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What I’ve learnt about Hawaii since coming to Yurihama 湯梨浜町に来てハワイについて学んだこと

2014.03.07 (Fri)
Image by bandita, via wikimedia

Image by bandita, via wikimedia

Since coming to Yurihama, I’ve learnt a lot of things about the American state of Hawaii, where our sister city is. Some of those things surprised me, so I thought I would tell you about them!

1. The State of Hawaii has no racial majority

While the majority of Americans are white, there are four American states where there is no white majority, and one of those states is Hawaii. When you look at the demographics of Hawaii, it seems you can create four large groups: the original Hawaiian peoples, the descendants of the many immigrants who came a century ago to work on the sugar plantations and so on, people from around the world who have emigrated to Hawaii since then, and then people who have born in Hawaii from parents belonging to all of those groups. It is really a very mixed place, and no one group is a majority.

2. One in every six people in Hawaii has Japanese ancestry

I knew that in Hawaii, there was a lot of Japanese language, food and culture, but I didn’t know that 16%, that is, one in six people had Japanese ancestry. I was also surprised to find out that in the 1920s, 43% of the Hawaiian population was Japanese.

3. Spam musubi actually has a long history

Recently, rolled sushi and onigiri have become popular around the world, and of course, their contents have been influenced by the food culture of those various countries. California rolls are one example, but there are lots of things, like avocado and cream cheese, that turn up in sushi rolls all over the world that you wouldn’t see much in Japan. I had thought that spam musubi was just another example of this recent unusual “sushi”, but I have found out that it’s actually been around for over 60 years, since just after the end of the second world war.

4. In Hawaii, it’s not “spring summer autumn winter”, but “spring summer spring spring”

Of course there are lots of places around the world that have four seasons just like Japan, but in Hawaii, apparently it’s more like “spring summer spring spring”. In a typical year, there are nine months that are basically around the same, and then a short period when it is hotter. Digging a little deeper, with mid-winter temperature ranging from 18℃ to 28℃, and mid-summer from 24℃ to 31℃, it seems like a pretty pleasant climate all year round, without much change in temperature or humidity.

湯梨浜町に赴任してから、姉妹都市関係にあるアメリカハワイ州のことをたくさん学んできましたが、その中でも驚いたことをいくつか紹介したいと思います。

1.ハワイ州では過半数の民族がないこと

アメリカ人の過半数は白人ですが、白人が過半数に満たない州が4つあり、その中の1つがハワイ州です。ハワイの人口構成を見てみると、原住民、百年前ぐらいにサトウキビ畑などで働くために移民してきた人々の子孫、世界各国から移民してきた人々、そして、多数の民族の間で産まれた子供たちと、大きく4つに分けることができます。本当にいろいろな民族が暮らしているんですね。

2.ハワイの人口の6人に1人は日系とのこと

ハワイでは日本語をはじめ、日本食や日本文化がたくさんあることは知っていましたが、ハワイの人口の16%、つまり、6人に1人が日系人であることは知りませんでした。1920年代、ハワイの人口の43%が日本人や日系人だったことにも、驚きました。

3.スパムむすびには長い歴史があるということ

最近、巻き寿司やおにぎりが世界中で流行していますが、当然、その中の具はその国の食文化に影響されますよね。カリフォルニアロールは一つの例ですが、アボカドやクリームチーズなど、日本であまりみかけない食物もたくさん巻き寿司の具になっています。スパムむすびも最近できたちょっと変わったスシの一つだと思っていましたが、実は60年前の第2次世界大戦の直後に作られたものらしいのです。

4.春夏秋冬ではなくて「春夏春春」であること

世界中には日本のように四季がある国はたくさんありますが、ハワイは「春夏春春」といった感じに近いようです。1年の9ヶ月ぐらいはほぼ同じ気候で、短期間少しだけ暑くなるときがあるようです。調べてみると、真冬の気温は18℃から28℃、真夏は24℃から31℃なので、気温も湿度もそれほど変化もなく、年中過ごしやすい気候のようです。

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