Saturday, April 30, 2011


My favorite family vacation was our 2-week stay in Hawaii (Oahu/Maui) back in 1982. My dad worked really hard as he was running his own pharmacy, so until then, he had never taken more than a week off. The next time I visited Hawaii was in 1993. I had just finished teaching a year on the JET Program in Okayama and wanted to stay in Hawaii for an extended period of time. I got a job working on the Waikiki Trolley. I started as a conductor (glorified ticket puncher). Then suddenly the bi-lingual Japanese/English staff quit and they needed a "Japanese Liason". They asked me if I could speak Japanese as I had just come from teaching in Japan. I said, "yeah sure" hahaha. When I think back to how bad my Japanese actually was at that time it makes me laugh (not that I'm any good now)! :) Anyway, my pay was raised to 10 bucks /hour and my hours 9 to 5. I wasn't making much but didn't have to spend much either (except for rent). I rode my bicycle or took the bus everywhere and my entertainment was bodyboarding or hanging out at the beach. I call the time I spent there my "working holiday" as every day, even working days were spent very happily.

Earlier this month my family returned from a one-week vacation in Hawaii. It still holds all the charm that it had for me in my teens and 20's. I love the sun, the nice breeze, the daily rainbows, good local food (L & L Barbecue, Matsumoto Shave Ice, Crack Seed Center), North Shore beaches, local people and their friendly casualness, Ala Moana Center and the beautiful sunsets. What made this vacation even more special was that my parents met us and we stayed in a nice hotel/condo together. Taiga could enjoy time with his grandparents and Aki and I could enjoy some time to ourselves too.

The panic from the terrible disaster has gone and life is just about back to normal for those of us lucky enough to live far away from it. We still feel the aftershocks but they're getting weaker. Rolling blackouts have stopped until summer when the use of A/C will probably force them to start up again. Everyone has been cutting down on energy consumption. Self-restraint is being preached by some politicians and many festivals and other events have been cancelled or toned-down. I'm not sure if this is for better or worse. It is part of Japanese culture and I respect it (self-restraint), but, on the other hand, people do need to let out their stress. Businesses also suffer when people stay home. Golden Week just started and I hope people will go out and enjoy life. :)