Haunted Hawai‘i: My Personal Experience With the Supernatural and the Unexplained
Many say that Hawai‘i is full of ghosts and otherwordly beings–not just from one culture, but all of the cultures that live together in the islands. This is one writer’s experience with the supernatural.
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LOPAKA KAPANUI SHOWS OFF THE RUINS OF KANIAKAPŪPŪ, ALSO KNOWN AS KING KAMEHAMEHA III’S SUMMER HOME, IN NU‘UANU VALLEY.
Photo: Aaron Yoshino
In the midmorning daylight, the collection of plantation homes in Hawai‘i’s Plantation Village in Waipahu looks innocuous, almost inviting. This outside museum is a time warp back to life on sugar plantations in Hawai‘i from 1850 to 1950. The 50-acre village features restored buildings and replicas of plantation structures including a plantation store, an infirmary, a community bathhouse and homes of families from various ethnic groups.
These 25 plantation homes are filled with artifacts from real families who lived on Island plantations: framed photos, dolls in glass cases, copper pots, teakettles, quilts, crocheted doilies, crucifixes and statues of Jesus.
About half of these homes are haunted, say those most familiar with their history. The Portuguese house is said to be haunted by the ghost of a playful young girl. The Japanese doll encased in glass is often found outside its case in the Puerto Rican home. And one worker claims a choking ghost from the Okinawan house followed him home.
These tales have made the village a perfect location for a Halloween attraction.
In its 10th year, Haunted Plantation takes thrill-seekers on a tour of the village at night, slightly transformed with the help of a fog machine, spooky music and at least 50 costumed actors hiding in dark corners in the houses.
But, honestly, it doesn’t need the special effects.
“We don’t build haunted houses,” says Noa Laporga, the Haunted Plantation creator. “Our houses are already haunted.”
While that’s good for business—the village attracts between 300 and 1,000 people a night during its 10-night run—Laporga has had actors quit because of the hauntings. At least two have complained about feeling choked while working in the Okinawan home and others, including his mother, have experienced the kolohe spirit of a young Portuguese girl in the village. “My mom felt something in her pocket, her keys moving,” Laporga says, as we stand outside the Portuguese home with a cross hanging above the front door. “She was pulling out the Hello Kitty (keychain) in her pocket. It was kind of cute.”
These anecdotal spooky tales have only fueled the growing interest in Laporga’s Haunted Plantation. People are here to see the real ghosts, not to be spooked by actors in costumes.
“It’s a mystery for people, things that are unseen,” Laporga says. “It’s that curiosity. People are always going to be curious.”
Not everyone is curious. I’m definitely not. I would rather go through life without ever seeing a strange reflection in the mirror or a shadowy figure leaning over me as
Even as I write this, I’m acutely aware of everything around me. A soft breath against my ear, a whiff of perfume, the front door suddenly slamming shut on a still afternoon.
I wonder if I’ve confessed too much.
The rest of the night, as I pored over notes and flipped through books about ghost stories and Hawaiian folklore, I could sense the unrest. I snapped on every single light in the house, changed the channel on the TV to some innocuous cooking show, and kept my three dogs and burly husband close.
At the very least, I was going to survive the night. The rest of the week, though, would be a mystery.