Note: Hale Pai is no longer being published. These archives of passed issues will remain available as long as there is interest. - Courtesy of San Jose Web


Hale Pai
Pacific American News Journal

Mei-May 1996 Volume 2 Issue 5

Do You Know The Way To San Jose?
Part 2

W.B. Laronal, Jr

On March 6, my friend Seiji Yoshinobu (you know the bald headed guy at the airport) offered to give me a ride to visit more "local" places.

When I started this story I wanted to get a "feel" for what locals were up to in San Jose and communities. Well, as it turns out it's an active community. Many former islanders have made it a point to keep a part of Hawai'i in their daily lives, by taking personal ownership. For instance, Seiji and I visited on an Asian grocery store in San Mateo. The sign on the store read "Takahashi Market, Japanese, Asian and Hawaiian Groceries." It's located on a nondescript corner in downtown San Mateo. Well, much to my surprise, it had many food and dry goods items you would find in a typical store in Hawai'i. Bentos were available for take out. There were assorted bottles. of kim chee, daikon, etc. There were also sweetbread, guava jams and jellies in family size bottles, passion, guava, liliko'i juices with labels of companies from Hawai'i. The store gave me an overall feeling of being transplanted back to Hawai'i. No fancy glitzy fixtures, just a well frequented store. It was clean and fresh with smells familiar me.

I spoke with the Manager/Owner Gene Takahashi. Gene said, "Well, my grandfather started this business and it has been in the family for over 100 years. He was originally from Hawai'i. I could remember as a child my grandfather serving poi at our meals. I've grown up eating poi and still do. It's a part of my diet. I'm mainland born of Japanese ancestry. People, sometimes people use the term 'Katonk' meaning Japanese born on the mainland." I asked if he thought that was derogatory. He said no, it's just a term used to describe someone born of Japanese ancestry born away from Hawai'i.

He was called away to the phone. We said our good-byes. Seiji and I walked out of Takahashi’s to his car. A Hawaiian looking guy was loading some groceries into his car. You know sometimes you just assume people are local I was lucky, he was local. A firm handshake and we were talking to the owner of Da Kine's, Mr. Correa. Da Kine's is a restaurant which features Hawaiian and Puerto Rican food in Hayward California. Correa said, "We make the best pasteles!" We talked story for a few minutes. On his invitation we agreed to try and make it to Da Kine's.
We got on the road again and headed north to Mill Valley. We went over the Golden Gate Bridge where last summer thousands of flowers were dropped on the Hokule'a double hulled voyaging canoe when it sailed under the bridge as it came into San Francisco.

We had a few minutes to spare before our next appointment. I asked, " Seiji how about a Latte or Mocha coffee? "Seiji response, "Okay." We dropped into Peet's, a Mill Valley espresso coffee shop. I ordered a single tall mocha for Seiji and a triple maccihatto for myself. The place was starting to fill up. The coffee had a good taste.

It was now ll o'clock. We walked five minutes over to Ikaika Exotics (they donated the flowers that were dropped off the bridge). They had a great looking store front. A woman came around the corner of the store saying," Pila, HI! I'm Rebecca Keli'iho'omalu. Let's go upstairs to my office." ( Seiji and I followed.)

We stayed about a half hour. Ikaika Exotics started as a mail order business but has now grown to include the store downstairs. On selected Saturdays her husband Sam has a Hawaiian group perform in the garden court. The overall feel of the place was upscale but with lots of Aloha. The products they carried were wonderfully done and represented the best of Hawai'i's artisans. I had a feeling of going into a combination art gallery/local store where I would want to take my family and friends. Rebecca said, "Ikaika Exotics represents the best Hawai'i has to offer in products. But more than tropical flowers, gifts, music, and fine arts, we provide genuine service with the Aloha spirit."

Our next stop was the The Hawaii Store in San Francisco.

Our twenty minute drive took us to Judah and 32nd Ave. We parked across the street from the store. We introduced ourselves to owner Myles Ibara. The store started up recently and he hopes to increase his product line. As we spoke, a number of customers came in, and he received his Thursday order of fresh Hawaii products by delivery service. We were late, so we said goodbye and that we'll be back.

The next few days were a whirlwind. There was the graduation for the Hawaiian language class, the Polynesia Polynesia! meeting, and I was introduced to David Ching, Kalani grad. He's organizing the Dragon Boat races in San Francisco. Dave is Manager of Computer Services for PIXAR, the company that produced Toy Story. Next we played music and talked story at Richard Ponce's house. Richard and his son Micheal played music at The 3rd Annual Ukulele Festival in Hayward. One of the premier ukulele and guitar builders Leonard Young, from Oahu, who is now living in Idaho was Ponce's house guest. The next day we got up bright and early. We had breakfast. It was the last day of my trip. Well, I got a more than I bargained for. The people of San Jose and surrounding communities made me feel right at home with all their aloha!

I can't say enough to Vern and Betty Chang for putting me up. Mahalo plenty. Mahalo Rochelle, Betty and the kids for transporting me around. Mahalo Rochelle for getting my coffee fix at the local espresso store. Seiji for our trips up north and good conversation in between. Yes, Seiji maybe if all the locals got together we could start our own bank or credit union. Mahalo anyone I missed for a great time.

It's not over yet.

We went to the 3rd Annual Ukulele Festival Of Northern California at the Princton Adult Educational School, Hayward. The festival was well attended. Food and craft booths were located outside the concert hall. Ukuleles of all shapes and sizes were played by people from every conceivable ethnic and age group. Nonstop from 1lam to 6pm.

The quality of the music varied, but what was apparent was the packed house of over a thousand people who thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

John Ogao and Hollis Baker were our organizers of this event. Their crew helped to make things run smoothly. If you missed this year's event, there's always next year.

The next evening I was on my way to the airport. I looked forward to getting home to Seattle.

What city can I visit next?

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Copyright 1996 Hale Pai Pacific American-News Journal
Last modified: February 28, 1998

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