Louis Wai

Hawai‘i Herald Columnist

One of the most gratifying things about writing this Hawai‘i Herald column is the feedback I get from readers. Most of the people who contact me are Nisei who tell me that things I write about bring back memories for them. Well, I was blessed once again by a reader named Clarence Hirata. Clarence is 84 years old and he sent 12 cans of macadamia nuts for me with his daughter, who visited Okinawa recently. Clarence remembered reading that I shared macadamia nuts with my students, so he was generously sent me 12 cans. My English students were so happy and said, “Arigato!” So sweet! I mean Clarence, not the nuts!

Drive around bentö shop. They have drive-ins here, including an American name-brand car-hop drive-in, where you can order from your car, just like in the good ’ol days in Hawai‘i and America. You park your car in a stall and order your food throug

The Hiroshima Peace Dome stands as a reminder of the horror that was unleashed on Aug. 6, 1945.
The Hiroshima Peace Dome stands as a reminder of the horror that was unleashed on Aug. 6, 1945.

h a speaker and then a server delivers your food to your car.

But there’s also competition from a “drive around” bentö shop on Route 82, near my apartment. It’s very popular. Mind you, this is a two-lane street in both directions and all kinds of vehicles travel on it. The shop is situated on the east to west direction of traffic along a bend in the road. If a car stops in the left lane to buy a bentö, then the left lane is partially blocked. Cars in that lane then have to drive around the cars parked in the left lane, usually driving partially into the next lane. Sometimes even big trucks stop in the lane, completely blocking it and forcing drivers behind them into the next lane.

What’s more, occasionally, vehicles stop at the bend on the opposite side of the street. The driver will get out of his or her car and jaywalk across Route 82 to get a bentö. Now that’s “No Fear.”

Snagged! In the past, I’ve written about crossing guards who are stationed at construction sites to guide traffic and pedestrians through and around construction projects both on streets and sidewalks. Last night, during my exercise walk, I saw a police checkpoint. A police officer stationed at an off-ramp and crosswalk was looking for drivers who were talking on their cell phones while driving or were not wearing their seat belts. Further up the block, the drivers who were caught by the “spying police officer” at the off-ramp were ordered to pull over and issued citations. As I entered the crosswalk in front of this police officer, he stepped into the street in front of the crosswalk and stopped the oncoming traffic from entering the crosswalk I was using. How’s that for my tax dollars at work!

Ösaka, Kyöto — and Hiroshima for a special man. I met my niece, Lois (Mitsumori) Rush, and her

The iconic Miyajima Torii in the distance.
The iconic Miyajima Torii in the distance.

family for a vacation in mainland Japan. My son Brenner joined us in Ösaka and Hiroshima. I wanted to go to Hiroshima because Lois’ dad, Gilbert Mitsumori, my oldest sister Annie’s husband, is from Hiroshima. Actually, he was born in Hawai‘i, but moved to Hiroshima with his family when his parents decided to return to their homeland. Gilbert was in the countryside when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. Two of Gilbert’s sisters were within a kilometer of the epicenter. Although both miraculously survived, neither was able to have any children. After the war, the Mitsumori family resettled in Hawai‘i and lived in upper Liliha. I still have fond memories of visiting their mother and the family when I was little. I think Gilbert is one of the reasons I am so fond of Japan. He epitomizes all that is good about the Japanese. But he also is, for lack of a better adjective, a “golden man.”

So, on my recent trip to Japan, the one place I was determined to visit was Hiroshima, because I wanted to honor Gilbert and all that he means to me and taught me.

Another place I really wanted to see with my own eyes and experience in Japan were the torii (gates) of the Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine in southern Kyöto. The Fushimi Inari Shrine is known for its thousands of vermilion torii gates that straddle a network of trails behind the shrine’s main buildings. The trails take you into the wooded forest of sacred Mount Inari.

As I was leaving the Fushimi Inari Shrine, I thought to myself, “I have seen everything I have always wanted to see.”

More in next month’s column . . .


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