We Accept Yen

Seen at a convenience store in Honolulu

Shops in Honolulu take Yen. Sales people speak Japanese. Signs and menus are in English and Japanese. The Japanese influence on this town is everywhere. A good example is Marukai market. It’s a club store, sort of like Costco. Members can stock up on Hawaiian-made snacks, Japanese home décor, and necessities like fans, altars, bamboo plants and Hello Kitty items. Never will you run out of rice if you live near Marukai. Fresh sushi and every kind of shoyu/soy sauce is also available.

Rice at Marukai

On a recent visit to my hair stylist, he placed a new product in my hair to give it sheen. I loved it and purchased a bottle. “Put a little in the palm of your hand and run it through your hair before you blow dry,” he said.

“About how much?” I asked. “The size of a dime?”

“Too much” he said.

“So, maybe pea-sized?” I asked. “Too little,” he answered.  He then nodded his head, and said, “Edamame size.”

Edamame size? Only in Hawaii have I heard people refer to something as edamame-sized. I really am out of the U.S.

But where exactly am I?

In Honolulu, the Japanese influence is strong, but what about the rest of the island?  In the less populated areas of Oahu, there’s another world, one before the Japanese culture landed on this island… it’s that of the native Hawaiian. Here’s a photo that illustrates their thoughts:

I make no political statement. I endorse no group. I am an American living in a land that is removed from mainstream American culture. Life has an ebb and flow here based upon the weather, the geography, and the mix of people. Hawaii has no majority ethnic group.  English, Japanese, Hawaiian and Pidgin (among others) are spoken here.  Baptist churches reside next to Shinto Temples. The Episcopal cathedral tower can be seen while standing in front of a Chinese temple. The Mormon temple and rural Protestant church live harmoniously in the country, while evangelical churches dot most neighborhoods.

What is important now? Appreciating the beauty of the land here. Even in the rain and clouds, the mountains are spectacular. They tell me a story every time I look at them. When they look angry, I wonder why. Is it my emotion being projected onto them or are the mountains trying to tell me something?

When the alternating blue and cloudy sky reflects upon the ocean creating flowing shades of turquoise, aqua and sea-foam green, I stop to admire the constant change in color as each wave laps upon the shore, then disappears. In those moments, I’m reminded of the constant change of life. Nothing stays the same. Each moment is unique and fleeting. Mother Nature reminds me to appreciate the moments life gives me. And that goes for the people. I’ve written before about the nature of human beings. Seventy years ago Japan was our enemy, now they are our friends. I’ve encountered native Hawaiians who have judged me by my skin color and others who have accepted me as another human, blind to the difference of skin color between us.

A friend asked me what my thoughts are of having lived in Hawaii for just over a year.  Mostly, I’ve changed my priorities. I don’t need the latest clothes by some designer or the latest upscale linens. I don’t need to rush. Nothing has to be done so quickly that my rushing it negatively affects another person’s serenity. I’ve learned I can’t assume the way a person is by their skin color or cultural background. I let the land dictate the way my day goes.

Sometimes the ocean calls me and I just have to stop at the beach to feel the water wash over my feet. As the last of each wave swirls around my ankles, I watch the clouds float by reminding me to live in the moment, to be a good person, and to accept all inhabiting this multi-cultural island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Let’s Help the Small Business During APEC

Shoppers are staying away from Ala Moana Shopping Center. Restaurants near the APEC Conference are closing their doors for the rest of the week. Small businesses have laid off employees for 4-7 days.Shopkeepers at Ala Moana Shopping Center are telling their employees to take a break and buy a cup of coffee to support other retailers.

APEC is hurting commerce in the Honolulu area surrounding the conference locations.

So, Mark and I decided to have dinner tonight somewhere in town, near the conference, but not in the secured zone. We want to help the local businesses. Anyone have ideas of where we should eat?

Let us know if you want to join us.

Update: The Chart House restaurant in Honolulu had an “APEC Stimulus Package” last night. We ate there when we saw the special – 40% off food! When have you ever heard of 40% off a dinner? I don’t think I ever have. My mahimahi fish dinner was $18. They took $36 off our final bill. That’s a deal!

Follow The Tourist Bus

We visited Punchbowl National Cemetery on Sunday. You’ll recognize the statue of Lady Columbia from Hawaii Five-0’s opening sequence. (Both the original and the new show.) She symbolizes all the grieving mothers.

Punchbowl is located in a dormant volcano crater. It’s green and peaceful, even with the tourist bus driving around. The casualties from the attack on Pearl Harbor were the first people to be buried there, at least in modern times. I’ve been told it was a sacred place for Hawaiians in the past. I’m guessing they used it as a burial ground also. If anyone knows the story, please let me know.

It looks as if they are refurbishing/landscaping there. Wait a few weeks, then visit.

Tantalus Drive is at the entrance to Punchbowl, so we took it to where it joins up with Round Top Road. Our goal was to reach the lookout point in the park. I felt a little woozy driving up in altitude along the curvy lane. The lookout point is spectacular and worth the drive. Here are photos which show Diamond Head, University of Hawaii Manoa, Magic Island at Ala Moana and downtown office buildings.

The North Shore was our next stop, where we again saw a tourist bus. We visited our Honu (Sea Turtle) friends and learned they eat the seaweed found on this particular North Shore beach. After the Honu eat, they rest upon the sand and let the sun and water restore them.

Of course, we had to eat at some point as well. Off to Kua Aina Sandwich Shop in Haleiwa for dinner. Yum! Go there. You won’t be disappointed.