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Home in Hawaii

June 11, 2009

my family
Family portrait – guess who didn’t pack black slacks for the last minute color scheme change

I was home in Hawaii for one week and it was just as I expected. Absolutely wonderful with a heavy dose of not enough time. It was traumatically short, yet Yoko and I packed in a hectically full schedule.

We took a Korean Airlines flight (Great food considering the cheap tickets! Then again the coffee was so-so) from Fukuoka to Incheon, and eventually to Honolulu. Went thru various forms of security and health checks.

This is not a blurry picture of me or of Incheon Internation Airport. It’s a picture of Korean newlywed couples. They’re easy to spot.

I understand the overkill on the security checks (not really) but the health ones? Jeez, there are worse infections and diseases out there yet one little virus gets all the current media attention. In addition to all the other restrictions it’s like you can’t sneeze and travel now. Nice. 

I sneezed right in front of the health temperature guys, boy, did I get hard looks after that.

And having been to three different international airports with three very different procedures I can say that I neither of them have a clue on how intensive the process is on the other side of the plane ride. I believe if they knew how well the other airports do things there might be an easier way to make things more efficient while being just as, if not more so, secure.

First thing I noticed when I got home? Hawaii is hot.

Second thing? Jeez, everybody like large trucks in Hawaii.

My family has three of them. The other vehicles? SUVs. Sad, being we’re an island state with limited space and highly dependent on resources that must be brought in I figured we’d be better off using more hybrid cars or smaller vehicles but no.

After more than three years I finally got to see my parents again. My brother Nick, who I saw two years ago, had dreads the last time I saw him. They were gone two months before my arrival.

Met my brother’s girlfriend Tina and their daughter, my niece, Lyric for the first time. Being officially the “baby” (the youngest) in the family Lyric is the cutest one around.

Isn’t she a cutie?

Our first meal in Hawaii was lunch. A home cooked Filipino dish called Sari-sari, which Yoko loved and ate tons of for her size. Our first day was also recover day as the jet lag kicked in around four in the afternoon Hawaii time. Dinner was pizza, which I ate tons of. Afterwards everyone enjoyed Paul Blart: Mall Cop and Yes Man (RED BULL!!!). And to cap the day off I gave my mom a massage, which in turn gave her the best sleep she had in a long time.

One of the main reasons I wanted to go back home was to see my grandparents while they’re still around. My grandparents (on my mother’s side) have nine children, 23 grandchildren (I’m the oldest) and five great-grandchildren. We’re really big on family so everyone is super close.

This is NOT everybody. It’s not even half of my uncles and aunts.

Meeting my family (only a handful of them – there’s more) for the first time and seeing how we interact impressed my girlfriend, Yoko. She envied how close we were and told me how she wished her cousins were as close to her as I am with mine.

Aside from family, I wanted to touch base with all my friends and unfortunately had time for a handful of them. I got to see (albeit short) all the people I wanted to see. It’s true you know, you make time for the important things in life. The people that are really important to me I made sure I saw.

And although I couldn’t train, the call of my jiu-jitsu was too strong to ignore. In an effort to stay on topic and not make it seem like I’m showing off my unique status as a Hawaii boy living in Japan having the best of both worlds – okay, I’m showing off a bit – here are my brief episodes using the jiu-jitsu back home.

Standard “hang loose” shot absolutely necessary when in Hawaii or posing in a jiu-jitsu gi or surfing or in Brazil doing jiu-jitsu and/or surfing

Jiu-jitsu Showoff pt.1
One of my friends, who outweighs me by 60 pounds, was feeling punchy and after having a few beers and enough of me making fun of his weight gain (in fact, everyone I know got bigger while everyone else said I got skinny – I’m actually the same weight I was in college) made the mistake of tying up with me in a clinch. I “gently” footswept him and went knee-on-the-belly. Surprisingly, my bad knee and my friend weren’t hurt.

Jiu-jitsu Showoff pt.2
The night following that, my brother and I had a squeeze contest as to who could squeeze harder. One of my brother’s friends was conned into volunteering. My brother did a slow powerful crush so his friend was ready for it. I did a sneaky one, asking if he was ready several times then said “on three” and ninja-quick death-squeezed on “one”. I won.

Jiu-jitsu Showoff pt.3
I taught my brother-in-law, who is a Army Combatives level 2 instructor, the benefits of the over-under grip while behind an opponent. That led to me teaching him few collar chokes to try out the next time he trains in Texas. He really liked the collar chokes. Then he taught me a few takedowns that were slightly different from ones I already knew, which we couldn’t really practice because of my knee. I think he got the better end of the deal.

There’s something else about going home too. For me it was finding comfort, the food and familiarity. And the food. Being able to small talk – and understand – with just about everyone. Did I mention the food? Yup, all that good stuff.

hawaiian plate lunchpizza

kua aina

Yeah, I know, pictures of food. Hawaii bred and made yummy! I can’t get these in Japan. The pizza and burger, okay sure, but everything else is a no way.

Being away from home for so long made me realize all the things I took for granted and I appreciated them even more than I would had I been home all along. Like – ahem – the food! Oh my gosh, the food! Yup, I gained two kilos.

There are a few things I could have done without.

The lack of sleep. I know now what a week of restlessness feels like, which isn’t that bad but… Let me tell ya, add jet lag into the mix plus no sleeping on the plane (I got to watch Inkheart, Bride Wars, 12 Rounds, and the Korean romantic comedy My Girlfriend is an Agent though) and you got the living dead on your hands. I have no idea how I made it through the week. When I got back to Japan, I crashed for a good 12 hours.

There were also several intrusive moments with relatives and friends of those relatives that irritated me to no end. I was never close to them before I left for Japan and suddenly I find we’re long lost best buddies. Although the first time I have to say was very enjoyable. Every meeting beyond that was a waste of time – I wanted to spend what limited time I had with friends, immediate family or doing things Yoko wanted to do. No one asked what we wanted to do, we just tagged along for the ride.

Anyway, those were only minor hiccups in an otherwise delightful and memorable trip. I felt completely energized and lucky to return home. And because we did only half of the things we wanted to do, it just means we’re definitely coming back for seconds.

And thirds. And fourths.

Of course, Yoko loves Hawaii. I don’t blame her. It is a rather nice place.

plantation village
A replica Chinese home in Hawaii during its sugar cane plantation era in Hawaii Plantation Village in wonderful Waipahu. Not fancy or cheesy attraction, but highly recommended if you’d like a glimpse into what makes Hawaii tick especially in terms of race relations.


lanikaijust a tree

royal hawaiian hotel

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