Staff Talk 

I will show you my local Hawaii / Ms. Chelsea

Hawaii is a desired vacation spot for everyone. People from all over the world travel to Hawaii to shop, eat and relax on the beach. Over the years Locals (people who live in Hawaii) have welcomed travelers with open arms hoping to share Aloha With Everyone. As someone who was born and raised in Hawaii, I would like to share some of the amazing reasons to visit Hawaii but also things to consider when traveling to the islands. In this post, I will talk about the Hawaiian culture and community, what amazing food you can indulge in while visiting, and lastly the state of Hawaii’s tourism and economy. I hope you read and learn some new things about the place I call home and open your mind to the nice and not-so-nice things about Hawaii!

I’m not Hawaiian, I’m Local

This is a picture of my friends and me holding two Hawaiian flags at Mauna Kea. Left: Kānaka Maoli Flag. Right: Hawaii State Flag.

While visiting other places, even in American, people refer to me as “Hawaiian.” I understand that I am from Hawaii but just like Japan there are people who have Hawaiian heritage. Being Hawaiian is very different from being from Hawaii. People who are from Hawaii are considered “Local” by others in the community. It is how we respect the Native Hawaiians while also showing pride for where we came from.

In Japan I’ve often had conversations explaining my identity. When I tell people I’m Japanese-American, people often think I’m “half.” When I tell them that my parents are both Japanese blood, they assume I’m Japanese (日本人). After telling people I am of Japanese heritage from America (日系人) they will always ask me where in America I’m from. When I say Hawaii, people usually say “Oh, so you’re Hawaiian!” I am not Hawaiian, I’m Local!

Melting Pot of Culture and Pidgin ?!

Not only does Hawaii have visitors from all over the world but also, people from all over the world move to Hawaii. Due to this, over the years Hawaii has become a melting pot of cultures. In Hawaii, there are many languages spoken other than English. Often times you will hear Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Filipino, Samoan, and Hawaiian being spoken on the streets. In the early plantation days of Hawaii, when agriculture was booming, people from all over the world traveled to Hawaii in hopes of Many people from China, Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Portugal, and many other countries came to Hawaii to work on the farms. My great grandparents (on both sides of my family) also traveled from Japan to Hawaii to work on the farms. Because everyone spoke different first languages Pidgin was created as a way for everyone to communicate with each other. Now, Pidgin sounds very close to English and is sometimes mistaken as “bad English” but it is considered an actual language. There are many cities in Hawaii that use Pidgin in their community, there are also places that don’t speak as much Pidgin. I grew up in communities that didn’t use Pidgin often so I can’t speak it very well but because I’m used to friends and others speaking it, I can understand it.

Some things to remember when visiting!

This is a Hawaiian Monk Seal resting on the beach. Beware of signs that tell you to keep your distance.

Here are some things to remember when visiting Hawaii:

  1. We take off our shoes when entering someone’s house.
  2. If invited to someone’s house, always bring a gift; it could be food or drink, but never come empty-handed.
  3. When the gathering is over, help clean as respect and thanks to the host.
  4. Even when on vacation people are expected to respect the land and keep the island clean and safe. Hawaii’s beaches are always suffering from garbage being forgotten on the beach.
  5. Try to leave the beaches cleaner than when you came.
  6. While in Hawaii you may come across black volcanic rocks, NEVER take lava rocks home. Taking lava rocks away from the Islands can cause a person bad luck until the rocks are returned. Even if you’re looking for a cool souvenir, please leave the lava rocks where they are.
  7. Lately, there have been many issues with people touching the native wildlife creatures. If you are lucky enough to see a turtle or seal while you’re visiting remember it is illegal to touch them. Please take pictures but do not get too close as they Hawaii is home to many native wildlife that have suffered and even gone extinct due to invasive animals and plants being introduced to the islands. We are desperately trying to protect the creatures we have left.

I’m glad that many people love visiting Hawaii but it has been difficult for the native wildlife. In Hawaii we always talk about our “Kuleana” which means responsibility. This can be interpreted many ways but we have a responsibility to protect the islands and to be kind to others. Sometimes people forget their kuleana but the reason why people think of “Hawaiian Hospitality” when they visit Hawaii is because we try to be nice to strangers.

Awesome to visit but living in Hawaii is hard.

Hawaii has become dependent on the tourist industry and relies on visitors coming and spending money. Hotels and travel agency provide many jobs to residents. Hawaii has a great mix of culture and hospitality which causes many people to want to live in Hawaii. This causes many problems for current residents. Hawaii is the smallest state in the United States but is home to over 1 million people. Due to the increase in population, properties have increased in value and the cost of living has become one of the highest in the country. Many people who were born and raised in Hawaii are forced to move to other places.

I really miss home, and I would love to be with my family and friends but I wouldn’t be able to survive on my own in Hawaii. One of the things I love about being in Japan is that I can live on my own. If I moved back to Hawaii I would have to live with my parents. A one bedroom apartment costs at least $1500 USD per month and the minimum wage in Hawaii is $10.10 per hour. It is also very hard to find a full-time job because many companies do not want to pay for medical insurance. Many of my friends have multiple jobs 2-3 different jobs. While I was in college, I was a full-time college student and worked 2 part-time jobs to get by.

So many delicious foods! Here’s a short list!

In Hawaii, you will find a mix of different foods as well as fusion foods. Some of the tastiest dishes in Hawaii are thanks to various cultural influences. In this section, I would like to share with you some of the amazingly ‘ONO (delicious) ) food you can find in Hawaii !! I can’t list all the foods because there are too many! Here are some of my favorites!

1. Poke

Poke my favorite food from Hawaii. It has recently become super popular all over the world. Mostly made with ahi (tuna) but can often be made using octopus that we call “tako poke” (we) use the Japanese word for octopus). My favorite type of poke is called Spicy-Ahi. It is made with Sriracha, Mayo, Tobiko, Sesame Oil, and Shoyu. My favorite place to buy Poke is from Foodland (the picture above).

2. Lau Lau

Lau Lau is a traditional Hawaiian dish made with pork and fish wrapped in a taro leaf and then steamed in banana leaves. It is a dish I can’t get or make in Japan and it makes me miss Hawaii so much! It is super delicious and one of my favorite foods to eat with some Lomi Salmon!

3. Spam Musubi

Spam Musubi is Hawaii’s take on Japan’s musubi. In Hawaii, SPAM is commonly eaten and so it’s been added to the musubi to create the best salty savory meal or snack! Everyone from Hawaii has eats this and even though it isn’t good for your health we all crave it at some point!

4. Meat Jun

Meat Jun is what I always order at a Korean restaurant but it’s not actually a traditional Korean dish. It is made with tender beef that is coated in egg and flour then fried. It is marinated in sauce and is a delicious meal you’ll never forget!

5. Butter Mochi

Butter Mochi is a sweet, buttery, coconutty snack that gets my mouth watering just thinking about it. You can often find these in local supermarkets or at someone’s house party. It is quite easy to make and tastes so good!

6. Shave ice

Shave ice is a must-have on beach days. In other places, people call it “shaved ice” or “snow cones.” You can customize which flavors you want and which toppings you want to add. I love getting strawberry and blue vanilla,  snowcap (condensed milk on top), ice cream inside, and mochi balls!

hope you have the chance to visit Hawaii!

Hawaii is an amazing place. It has a unique culture, nice people, delicious food, and more! Like every place, it has its negatives but it’s the place I call home. I hope I gave you so me interesting information about Hawaii and I hope you learned something new. I’m glad I got to share a part of my life with you and hope you have the chance to visit Hawaii!

Mahalo Nui Loa for reading!

A Hui Hou!

Say hello to me when you see me !!

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