WE DON’T KNOW MUCH ABOUT Takei Nekketsu. The proprietor of a dry-goods store, he was one of the many small business owners who made up the thriving Japanese community of early 20th-century Honolulu. But Nekketsu had a number of special talents. He wrote some of the earliest Japanese-language histories of Hawai’i, and he made maps.
One map in particular, from 1906, shows his skill. Census records don’t tell us if Nekketsu had formal cartography training, but the map’s precisely labelled lines, crisp angles, and delicate calligraphy reveal a practiced hand. And the contents of the map reveal a practiced palate.