Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | Hawaiian Eye – Pt. 9 (Aloha, Hawaii!)
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Hawaiian Eye – Pt. 9 (Aloha, Hawaii!)

We ended the week with a flurry of shopping at the famous Flea Market at Aloha Stadium.

Sat. Sept. 22

It’s our last day in Honolulu, but we’re now slowing down. It’s jam-packed, with a trip to the fabled Flea Market that Erin has been raving about since we’ve been planning the trip. It’s a sale that’s held every Wednesday and Saturday at Aloha Stadium near the airport, and it’s truly a treasure trove of inexpensive omiyage – gifts to take back to the mainland.

There are vendors with t-shirts as cheap as eight for $20; ties for $5; aloha shirts for under $10. It’s a shopper’s delight, and a negotiator’s training ground. Everyone haggles for a better price.

In my case, I was proud to have talked a woman down on her Hawaiian print ties, only to find a vendor a few booths down who had them even cheaper. C’est la vie.

We spent several hours and bought gifts for everyone (we’d been shopping all week for things to take back to Colorado, for family and friends). The only regret I have is that I didn’t but a $7 (or $5, depending on which booth) dashboard hula dancer doll with a bobble head. Next time.

Coconut shell purses, just one of a zillion ways we could take home a bit of Hawaii from the Flea Market.

We got to rest for a bit, although we even squeezed in a quick run to a Longs Drug near Richela’s – even the drug stores in Hawaii sell lots of Asian and local Hawaiian items, including food and gifts. We took the opportunity to buy some Hawaiian “thank you” cards to send off when we returned.

Then our final preparations: packing up our considerable loot from the week’s worth of shopping, and the gifts we received from my wonderful Hanzawa family. Richela let us borrow a huge duffel bag suitcase that we stuffed with our clothes, and we stacked the rest of our stuff carefully into our two large suitcases. We said our goodbyes to Richela and the cats, called my family members to thank them for their incredible generosity, and then headed out.

A surreal shot at the Flea Market.

We had one more food stop, though (of course!): We picked up some meals to go at Zippy’s along the way to the airport. Richela had clipped a coupon for a discount on ZipPac combinations meals from the takeout menu, which were perfect for us to take on the plane for the long flight to the mainland.

Taking off from Hawaii, it seemed like we’d spent a week living in a dream. Now, weeks after we’ve returned, it still feels like a special, life-changing moment in our lives. I’ve been in touch with my cousins, and had a brief phone call with Auntie Jean. I look forward to having a full conversation with her, and to filling in the rest of the blank spots in my family history.

Now, my responsibility is to learn not about the Asakawa side of the family, but the Hanzawa side… and especially, to learn about the kind of woman that my grandmother was.