Naupaka: A Hawaiian Folktale

Yesterday, one of my coworkers saw me reading an anthology of Japanese folktales. She offered to tell me a Hawaiian folktale about a plant that grows in Hawaii. The story moved me close to tears and I want to share the folktale with you.

In Hawaii there is a kind of plant that grows, which has two varieties. There is a kind that grows by the ocean and one that grows by the mountain. But what’s striking about the plant is that its flowers only bloom in perfect halves. This is the story of why the Naupaka flowers only grow that way.

Some lovely Naupaka flowers.

Once there was a princess named Naupaka who fell in love with a man, Kaui. But Kaui was man of humble birth, and so the two of them could not be together.

This made Naupaka very sad, but determined to be together, both of them traveled to seek a solution to their problem. They climbed a mountain to see a priest in a temple. But the priest could do nothing.

Bereft of all hope, Naupaka embraced Kaui one last time. She picked a flower, tore it in half and gave it to Kaui. She then threw herself over the mountain. Miserable at her death, Kaui threw himself into the ocean. The plants saw their tragic love story and grew in halves ever since.

The two lovers in an embrace.

Isn’t that such a sad story? :( My coworker said that Naupaka story was like a story for my Doctor Flash and me. I sure hope not.

Have you ever heard a folktale that moved you? Or know of a story you never get to tell? Share it with me in the comments below. I love a great story.


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