SPAM® décor. The counter of the store is lined with cans of Hawai‘i’s favorite meat, SPAM®. (Photos by Colin Sewake)
SPAM® décor. The counter of the store is lined with cans of Hawai‘i’s favorite meat, SPAM®. (Photos by Colin Sewake)

Colin Sewake
Hawai‘i Herald Columnist

“Okinawa is such a beautiful place, not just the ocean and scenery and culture, but the people. I’ve been treated well and taken care of by many people here in what has become ‘My Hawai‘i.’” — Colin Sewake


Location: Domestic Terminal, Naha International Airport; July 2018

What’s known in Hawai‘i as “Spam musubi,” a slice of cooked Spam meat placed between rice and wrapped in nori seaweed, is called “Pork Tamago Onigiri” here in Okinawa — just like Hawai‘i’s Spam musubi, but with a piece of scrambled egg added for good measure.

One of my Hawai‘i friends who lives here got stuck in Tökyö due to Typhoon Prapiroon, a small storm system that forced the cancellation of several flights. He finally made it back to Okinawa on July 2, so I picked him up at the Naha Airport Domestic Terminal baggage claim.

Okinawa’s version of Hawai‘i’s popular SPAM® musubi.
Okinawa’s version of Hawai‘i’s popular SPAM® musubi.

While waiting for him, I noticed a long line of customers formed outside the “Pork Tamago Onigiri Store.” The line took a while to go down and grew long again as I waited for my friend to come out. The majority of the customers looked like mainland Japanese to me. When I thought of how I used to eat Spam, scrambled egg and rice as normal bentö-type food that my mom made for us whenever we went fishing or on picnics, I thought it was funny to watch so many people line up for a food item that I wouldn’t even think of waiting in line for.


Location: Naha, June 2018

It’s been over 23 years since I left my island home of Hawai‘i to settle here in Okinawa. Over 4,600 miles of ocean separates me from my two home islands. And yet, there are signs of Hawai‘i in Okinawa that narrow the distance quite a bit.

After returning from six weeks in Hawai‘i following my father’s passing and funeral services, I stopped by my workplace, Hotel Sun Palace Kyu-youkan (, to check in with some staff members.

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Colin Sewake is a keiki o ka ‘äina from Wahiawä, O‘ahu, who was assigned to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa in December 1994 to fulfill his U.S. Air Force ROTC commitment. He met his future wife, Keiko, within a month and decided to make Okinawa his permanent home. Colin retired from the Air Force and, recently from the Air Force Reserves. He now works as a customer service representative for Hotel Sun Palace Kyuyokan in Naha. Colin and Keiko have two teenaged children and make their home in Yomitan.

Hilo Kume with his paintings.
Hilo Kume with his paintings.


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