Karleen C. Chinen
Each year, one of our goals in publishing this Hawai‘i Island edition has been to bring you stories from all over the BIG Island. Hawai‘i Island really is a big island and the Herald has been so, so fortunate to have a team of writers who have been willing to share stories of their island home with you, in spite of their hectic schedules.
Most of our writer-friends happen to live on the east side of the island, however, which made sharing stories from West Hawai‘i especially challenging when you don’t have a travel budget. I’ve tried to be creative — sometimes tapping an O‘ahu-based writer to do a Hawai‘i Island story from O‘ahu.
Fortunately for us this year, we were able to bring you stories for this sixth Hawai‘i Island edition from a variety of locales. So, starting in Hilo, we share a short fiction piece penned many, many years ago by the late Shiho Shinoda Nunes, who grew up in Hilo. Her daughter, Susan Nunes, who now lives in Berkeley, shared it with the Herald. It is the perfect story to begin this trek around Hawai‘i Island.
Former Herald editor and current Hawaii Japanese Center executive director Arnold Hiura shares the heartwarming story of Naoki and Rose Honda, the true grit husband-and-wife team who are adding so much aji (flavor) to people’s lives with their tsukemono products. The photos by Arnold’s wife, Eloise, add another does of charm to this story.
We then travel south, still on the eastern side of the island, to lush green Glenwood, where former Herald writer and current UH Hilo instructor Patsy Iwasaki invites us to celebrate the small-town charm of Hirano Store, which celebrated its 100th anniversary earlier this year. The store was founded by issei Naojiro and Shige Hirano and is now led by sansei Eric Inouye and his wife Lisa.
Still traveling south, we stop at Volcano and meet everybody’s mischievous little brother, gosei Kevan Kamibayashi, who has the face of today’s Japanese American in Hawai‘i. I was impressed by what I saw of Kevan in an episode of PBS’ “Road Trip Nation” and pitched a profile on him to contributing writer Margaret Shiba. Little did either of us know how timely a story on Kevan and his work at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory would be, as scientists are now keeping a watchful eye on the major increase in seismic activity at Kilauea Volcano, warning residents to prepare for possible evacuation.
Continuing south around Hawai‘i Island to the west side, Arnold profiled KTA Superstores’ newest and most innovative venture, KTA Express, a full-scale supermarket — just a little smaller — which president Toby Taniguchi guided all along the way.
We then head back up the Hawai‘i Belt Road, past Waimea and begin the drive down the Hamakua coast, stopping in Honoka‘a Town, where Honolulu-based writer Kevin Kawamoto tells us about the specialness of this old plantation town whose residents, businesses and friends are determined to keep it alive and thriving as a community hub. The specialness of Honoka‘a Town is highlighted in a book by Laura Ruby and Ross Stephenson, both of whom share a love for the preservation of old towns and buildings.
So there we have it — a road trip around Hawai‘i Island and a peak into each of these communities and the stories that make this island so special.
Of course, this issue would not have been possible without the support of our advertisers. I’ve been saying it now for six years — and I mean it. The day they say “no” to our advertising manager Grant “Sandaa” Murata is the day this issue ends. So, it is with a very grateful heart that I say “Thank you.” Truly, okagesama de . . . this issue is because you always say “yes,” and sometimes even, “Yea, OK; bigger size OK, too.”
If you are traveling on the Big Island, please support our advertisers and thank them for advertising in the Herald.
I would also be remiss if I did not thank the team at KTA Superstores for continuing to carry the Herald on the stands of all of their stores. Your support is priceless and it tells us a lot about why KTA continues to be so successful in such a competitive business landscape. Mahalo to Barry and Toby Taniguchi and Team KTA. And, once again, mahalo nui loa to these advertisers.
Alumside Products, Inc.
Amano Fishcake, Inc.
Big Island Delights
David Ige for Governor
Dodo Mortuary, Inc. & Crematory
Green Point Nurseries
Hawai‘i Printing Corporation
Hilo Lunch Shop
Hilo Termite & Pest Control, Ltd.
Japanese Community Association of Hawaii
Kadota Liquor/K’s Drive In
Kimura Lauhala Shop
KTA Super Stores
S. Tokunaga Store
Two Ladies Kitchen
Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home