‘Chicken Skin’ Stories Have Mixed Cultural Roots

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Big Island Now stock photo. July 2016

Big Island Now stock photo. July 2016

The Big Island of Hawai‘i is saturated with stories that will at least give you “chicken skin” (aka, goose bumps).

After hearing a kupuna speak of supernatural experiences just might leave you questioning whether or not that was just a shadow in the corner of the room or… something else.

There is a blending of cultures and customs here in Hawai‘i brought to the islands by those who immigrated here from many different places.

Traditions of their native land mixed in with those of the Hawaiian people have resulted in an abundance of unique stories—stories that one could easily say sound similar to some of the stories from other locations throughout the world.


There are tales of the beautiful hitchhiker up in the volcano area that is picked up and slowly transforms into an old wrinkled woman that eventually disappears into thin air in your car.

There are tales of night marcher and how one should never look them in the eye.

Then there is the story of the mischievous menehune who work throughout the night and make entire stone walls appear over night.

There is the tale of a certain whistle you are not supposed to follow if you hear it as you walk through the forest.


Paranormal activity is said to be found in every small town, village and neighborhood here.

Whether or not you choose to believe some of the stories you hear is entirely up to you.

The Internet is filled with stories of haunted Hawaiian hotels, hospitals, cemeteries, roads, forests and even beaches.

Ask just about any local if they have a spooky story that has been told in their family and they will tell you…


While it may seem like some of these stories are just folklore or legends, and many may be skeptical about whether or not the stories are real, our kūpuna advise us to respect the stories that are told and retold, passed from one generation to the next.

As a child, while sitting around at night in the garage or at the table in grandma’s kitchen, we were quick to ask the adults to share a “spooky” story.

Although we said or acted like we did not believe the story, all an adult would needed to do was ask one of us to go get something in the dark or in another part of the house—and suddenly we needed someone to help us or accompany us… not because we were scared of course… it was just because we suddenly needed help.

So while you may not believe in ghosts or may have never seen a ghost personally, keep in mind there is a long, multicultural history of stories in Hawai‘i that say otherwise.

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