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. Continue reading

Hawaiian Eye – Pt. 8 (Researching the past)

We didn’t see many geckoes during our visit, but here’s one tiny one we saw next to a sculpture of a gecko, outside Richela’s front door.

Friday, Sept. 21

Another big food day. We’re eating our way across Oahu.

It was also a day of hunting history.

We began the day with Richela, who joined us in a drive downtown to the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai’i.

It’s a very nice facility in a nice building, with a museum, gift shop and research library dedicated to the history of Japanese Americans in Hawaii. Continue reading

Hawaiian Eye – Pt. 7 (Laughing with Bill Rose)

Tamashiro Market, a jam packed shop on a busy street corner. Bill took us there for corn flake cookies, which were, as promised, fantastic.

Thursday, Sept. 20

This was a food and friendship day. We got up and had a leisurely morning, hanging around Richela’s condo. Then Erin and I drove past downtown to meet up with Bill Rose, one of the more intriguing people I know.

So let me tell you about Bill Rose. Continue reading

Hawaiian Eye – Pt. 6 (Coasting with Richela)

One of the beaches Richela drove us to along the eastern shore of Oahu.

Wednesday, Sept. 19

It was sad leaving Laura and John’s in Mililani – it’s a beautiful and comfortable home, and they were so gracious and generous, it felt like we’ve known them all our lives.

At the same time, we were looking forward to seeing Erin’s friend Richela, who we knew from the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival. She’s half Japanese, half Chinese, and she volunteered and helped Erin with the festival’s performing arts stage. She moved from Denver to Honolulu several years ago; she’s a native of Hawaii who lived in Colorado for over two decades.

She now lives in a condo along the marina in an area west of downtown Honolulu called Hawaii Kai, with two cats, Sporty (who looks like a mature, heavier version of our black-and-white, Rufus) and a handsome gray and tan cat named Tokyo.

We reserved the day for sightseeing, nothing else. No shopping (!), no family research. Of course, eating was allowed. Continue reading

Hawaiian Eye – Pt. 5 (A day with Regine)

Hawaiian specialites at Helena’s: (from foregournd, left to right) poi, kahlua pork, a bit of Hawaiian seasoned salt, lau lau, lomi salmon, fried ahi tuna, haupia (with sliced onion, which we ate with the salt), tofu, beef stew and more lau lau.

Tuesday, Sept. 18

We spent the day with Regine, Laura’s twin sister, and the evening with Laura and John. She lives just a few minutes away in the older section of Mililani, land of rusty dirt. She came to pick us up but we headed straight back to her house because I needed her son William, an extremely tall (for someone who’s 3/4-Asian) handsome lad who speaks flawless Japanese and is some sort of young genius studying Japanese and poli-sci in college, to scan a few pages out of an old yearbook for me.

The yearbook is for McKinley High School, the imposing campus right in downtown Honolulu, not far from the state capitol and royal palace grounds. It’s the school my oldest aunt attended, and so did some of the Hanzawa family members. Auntie Harriet had borrowed the McKinley yearbook for 1939 from a friend of hers who remembered my Aunt Miki, the one everyone says was “the smart one,” and the one who would have attended the University of Hawaii if my grandfather hadn’t taken the entire family back to Japan.

Miki, or Michiko, shows up on a list of students who were inducted into the National Honor Society. The page with her senior portrait lists her accomplishments:

“Asakawa, Michiko – McKinley Government Magazine & Map Chairman; National Honor Society; Torch Society.” Continue reading