Pacific American News Journal
Mei-May 1996 Volume 2 Issue 5
Do You Know The Way To San Jose?
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
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 Takahashis 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
Our next stop was the The Hawaii Store in San
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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