A new documentary is capturing the music of Hawai‘i’s plantation history.
Japanese workers cutting sugar cane passed the time and dealt with difficult conditions by improvising songs called “Holehole Bushi”.
The name roughly translates to “dried cane leaf song”, and they became musical windows into the hardships of early plantation life
But the songs were almost forgotten as workers left the fields for the city. Their memory was preserved in recordings from a music teacher named Harry Urata who recorded hundreds of examples in the early 80’s.