Louis Wai
Hawai‘i Herald Columnist

Not just another Q-tip. Here’s something I never saw or heard of until I moved here. Did you know that Japanese Q-tips are different from American Q-tips? Japanese Q-tips — the stick, as well as the tip — are quite a bit harder, and they’re black, something I never saw in America.

“Why would they have black Q-tips?” I asked myself. Or maybe the American in me should be asking, “Why don’t we have black Q-tips in America?”

Haisai=Black Qtip
Ever see these black Q-tips in America?

On a recent yakiniku outing, they were free for the taking in the restroom, so I snapped this picture of one. By the way, if you look carefully, you’ll notice that one of the tips is ribbed, although I don’t know why that is so.

I’m finally spotting coconut trees in Okinawa. (Photos by Louis Wai)
I’m finally spotting coconut trees in Okinawa. (Photos by Louis Wai)

Home sweet coconut tree! I mentioned a while back that in spite of Okinawa’s tropical climate, I had yet to see a coconut tree since moving here. If I had looked closely around my apartment here in Aja, I might have spotted the nice, tall coconut tree at the top of a hill, about 200 yards away. Here’s a photo of it.

Since then, I’ve begun noticing more coconut trees, like on the median along Route 58 in Chatan, where the American Village shopping area is located. But those trees were planted only recently. Hey, I wonder if someone in Okinawa read my column about the lack of coconut trees and decided to plant some.
In the land of the lion-dog. Everywhere in Okinawa, people have pets, mainly dogs. There’s one noticeable difference, though. Most of the dogs here are small, maybe because of the lack of yard space and because houses in the city are smaller.

There are exceptions, however, like one of the families in my neighborhood that has a large Rottweiler in their yard. They have a big house and a big yard for their big dog. Another neighbor across the street has a small dog that barks at me whenever I walk by. Actually, he goes ballistics whenever he sees me. That dog reminds me of the one that used to bark at me when I practiced dribbling my basketball while jogging on Owäwa Street in my small kid time neighborhood in Kalihi.

Steamy “heat” and plain old hot heat. Back in the day in Hawai‘i, when I was much younger, I remember the inside of my car getting fogged up when I went “parking.” It was generated by the “heat” inside the car, not the temperature outside.

And then there’s the other kind of heat. It was 85 degrees here at 1 p.m. on Aug. 8, the same day Tropical Storm Iselle hit Hawai‘i, so it must have been at least 150 degrees Fahrenheit inside a parked car facing the sun. The humidity was about 90 percent when a violent thunderstorm struck. When I went to my car, the windows were all fogged up, which reminded me of the “heat” from those nights in Hawai‘i long ago.

Foggy car windows brought back memories from my younger days.
Foggy car windows brought back memories from my younger days.

The weather has been different every year since I’ve been here. I’m not referring to the entire year, but rather to the different seasons of the year. This past summer was a little bit cooler, although the humidity made life uncomfortable. Still, I don’t think we had many days when the temperature was more than 90 degrees.

One difference is the late afternoon rain. Japan has what it calls “the rainy season,” which usually lasts a few weeks in the early part of summer. The rainy season usually starts in Okinawa in May or June. This past summer, the rainy season came and went and then transitioned into monsoon-like weather, the kind I experienced in the Mekong Delta of South Vietnam during the war. In the summer, the rains would roll in in the late afternoon, around 4 or 5.

Here in Naha in August, the mornings were nice and sunny; by mid-afternoon, however, the skies turned gray and it rained for a few hours before clearing once again.
And so I end this month’s column with a few words about rain.

Okinawan word of the week: ami, meaning, “rain”; raindrop is amichibu. In Japanese, rain is ame.



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