Moanalua Garden and the Hitachi Tree

ハワイの歴史と文化 -この木何の木とモアナルアガーデン-

In this entry, I will introduce Moanalua Gardens and the famous monkey pod tree also known as the Hitachi Tree.

The Monkey Pod (Samanea Saman) is part of the pea family and although originally from Central and South America it now grows in many parts of the subtropics. Its branches have a long reach and its leaver are similar to that of a fern where they open at sunrise and close at sunset. It flowers twice a year in May and November.   

Moanalua Gardens, now a privately owned garden open to the public, contains many large monkey pod trees. This land used to belong to the Kamehameha royal family, who united the Hawaiian Islands under one rule. In 1884, this land was conveyed to Samuel Damon, a close friend to the royal family, who turned it into a park. Carrying out the royal family’s beliefs for desegregation and coexistence, Damon opened this park to the general public and wanted it to be enjoyed by everyone. Within the park, he incorporated aspects from cultures from around the world, including a Japanese tea house. Even to this day, along with Kamehameha V cottage, there remains a Japanese style pond and an oriental style building known as the Chinese theater.  As for the plants within the park, along with native Hawaiian species, plants from all over the world that were gathered and planted. The monkey pods were bought in from overseas during this time.

Among the monkey pods within the park, there is one in particular that brings thousands of visitors to this spot and is nicknamed the Hitachi Tree. The Hitachi Tree is estimated to be 130 years old, 75 feet (25 m) tall, 120 feet (40 m) wide, with a trunk around 21 feet (7 m) in girth.

In September 2009, the Hitachi Tree was recognized by the State of Hawaii in Exceptional Trees, which is a list of trees in the state of Hawaii that are considered to be exceptional.  The Exceptional Tree Act passed in 1975 by the Hawaii State Legislature was in response to fears that the island’s precious trees would be lost to development. The Act acknowledges unique trees and the value that they hold aesthetically and ecologically. To be considered for exceptional tree status, the tree or grove of trees must meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Historic or Cultural Value
  • Age
  • Rarity
  • Location
  • Size
  • Esthetic Quality
  • Endemic Status

In 2012 there were 163 trees listed as exceptional trees and the Hitachi Tree was listed as having the most value of all of them! This is because there is something extra special about the Hitachi Tree.  This tree has a high advertisement value.


Hitachi, a large global electronic company, has used this tree as a corporate symbol since 1973.  An agreement between the Damon Estate and Hitachi gave Hitachi exclusive worldwide rights to use the tree’s image for promotional purposes in exchange for annual payments of $20,000. After the last remaining Damon grandchild died in 2004, Hitachi negotiated with the new owner, Kaimana Ventures, and agreed to pay $400,000 a year for 10 years to use the tree in its advertising. 

The Hitachi Tree seems to be cared for well so I doubt there’s any worry of it being cut down for development purposes.


Exceptional Tree Act:

Hitachi Tree:

Hawaii Business:

Honolulu Advertiser:

Hawaii Facts: Location and Weather

自然 -地理・気候-

In 1959, Hawaii became the 50th state in the United States of America. Larger than Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island, it is 47th in size among the 50 states. With a population of about of 1,400,000 (in 2012) Hawaii is ranked 40th in population. Located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 2,390 miles from California; 3,850 miles from Japan; 4,900 miles from China; and 5,280 miles from the Philippines; Hawaii is the most isolated population center on the face of the earth.

With 137 recognized islands, the state of Hawaii extends some 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometers)  and has 750 miles (1,210 km) of coastline, making it the fourth-longest ocean coastline in America(after Alaska, Florida, and California). It is made up of  an archipelago of eight major islands, several atolls, numerous smaller islets, and undersea sea mounts. The most known are the major eight islands which are (from East to West): Hawaii (the Big Island), Maui, Kahoolawe, Molokai, Lanai, Oahu, Kauai, Niihau. Niihau, which is privately owned, and Kahoolawe, which is uninhabited and scattered with unexploded ordinances left by the U.S. Navy, are not open to tourism and there are no major commercial flights to these islands. 

With an average temperature at sea level being 85°F (29°C), the temperature in Hawaii is very consistent throughout the year. Average humidity is around 70% and with constant trade winds bringing a cool breeze through the islands, it is a very comfortable place to live.  These trade winds come from the northeast and collide with the mountains, creating clouds which produce rain. Most of the rain falls on the northeastern (windward) side of the islands, creating the rich forests and splendid waterfalls.  Due to this weather pattern, beautiful rainbows are often seen cast over the mountains and valleys, lending the nickname Rainbow State.