Shuji Akiyama

While working here in Honolulu, we received a call from one of our client's granddaughters who would be bringing her grandfather for some personal business.

I have no idea why but after seeing him on the appointment calendar, I Googled his name (Shuji Akiyama) and low and behold I found myself looking at a notable part of American history. 

Mr. Akiyama is a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient who had fought in World War 2 in the European theater.  Born November 25, 1921 on the big Island of Hawaii, he came to Honolulu to continue his education.

Here is a nice video narrative in his own words.     https://vimeo.com/50815876  

Shuji was 20 years old when, on December 7, 1941, 353 Japanese fighters and bombers attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, severely damaging 4 battleships and sinking 4 more along with 3 cruisers and 3 destroyers.  Over 2,400 Americans were killed in the attack.

Along with several more Japanese-Hawaiians, Mr Akiyama volunteered for the U S Army and found himself traveling across the U S mainland headed for Camp Shelby, Mississippi for training and later on in fierce fighting in France with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

"The 442nd fought their most famous battle in France where they rescued the "Lost Battalion" breaking through the line to rescue 211 men that were cut off by German troops. The 522nd FAB also participated in the drive into Bavaria which freed inmates from Dachau prison that was being marched to their death. The 442nd, including the 100th, was the most highly decorated unit in the history of the United States for its size and length of service."  Source at http://www.cpf.navy.mil/news.aspx/030437 .

 He was honored in France as well.

I am sure he never dreamed in his youth that he would be thrust into such a role in life.  It was a role he never planned and during battle, probably had only one goal and that was to live another day.  We can not control what life throws at you but you can control how you respond and he tesponded with courage.

Mr Akiyama is very hard of hearing now and had some difficulty understanding me but his granddaughter would lean to his ear and reiterate my questions.

Still, I was very honored to meet him.


Oahu Lighthouses

(clicking on the photos will increase size and resolution)

 Over the past couple of weekends, I have taken some hikes to Oahu's lighthouses.  Although there are a some beacons, the basic scenic choices are three (well actually 4) that I had an interest in seeing.

The Aloha Tower Lighthouse, or Minor Light of Oahu, which has had it's beacons moved to a tower is still a landmark that greets cruise lines.  During WWII, it received hardly any damage during the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  However, it's glowing white surface was painted in camouflage so that it could not be seen at night.

The most difficult thing in getting to this lighthouse is finding a parking spot down near the end of Bishop street.  The shopping area around it controls the paid parking lot.  Yeah I know, I'm cheap.

 Another is the Diamond Head Lighthouse.  A lot of people choose to see it from atop Diamond Head itself which requires a little hike.  Instead, I opted for parking on Diamond Head Road and popped over a little stone wall and make my way through the weeds (there are no snakes here) to find a nice location not blocked by trees so I would have access to it and the setting sun.  One tip I'd pass on is don't go too deep into the brush because there are some homeless encampments hidden in there.  While they may be on public land, there is no need in antagonizing them and risk a confrontation.

 Makapu`U (Makapuu) Point Lighthouse built in 1909.  If you're paying attention, you can get a slight glimpse of this lighthouse if you're traveling southwest on the Kalanianaole highway between Sandy Beach and Hanauma Bay but you have to be really looking.

There is a parking lot below the Makapuu overlook where you begin the 1 mile hike up a 10% grade.  Fortunately, the trail is actually paved which makes it nice.   The trick for me is to stop and take pictures often to catch my breath and not let the other visitors hear you wheezing.  Plus, you do get some magnificent shots after your heart stops shaking your hand with the camera in it.

Anyway, this hike does take on quite a few visitors, some kinds you expect to see such as the casual hiker with the aluminum walking sticks or couples taking their time strolling hand in hand.  I admired the tenacity of a young woman who was pushing a stroller full of baby and maybe a 3 year old in a backpack style child carrier.  

One guy in particular had his own fitness quest I found amazing if not somewhat crazy.  He had made his way all the way to the top of this hike and on his way down while carrying a 200 pound bag of sand.  Even on his way down, he had to drop that bag of sand every couple hundred yards and catch a breath.  I admire a man's resolve and determination but It's not my (pun intended) bag.

 So another quarter mile to the top where the state has blocked access for repairs, I was at least able to get somewhat of a shot at this lighthouse.  On a good day, you can also see a faint sight of Molokai, the smaller island just east of Oahu.

The Makapuu Lighthouse trail was closed up until a month ago so that accounted for a lot of people on the trail.

Named after Captain Henry Barber who shipwrecked near this point, the Barbers Point Lighthouse on the southwest side of Oahu, is just a short walk from a beach park.  The sand is deep and the little trail is bordered by private property and a rocky sea edge that is even more narrow when the tide is up.  As I understand it, like the others, it is totally automated and does not have a person living on the property.

This was in the middle of the day but from this direction, I would bet it makes a dandy sundown shot.  Maybe I'll get a chance to try that out one day.


October 31 - Northshore

It was storming in Waikiki this morning but had planned on going to the north shore unless the waves were crashing on the road up there.  As I made my way out of town and onto the Interstate H1 and H2 (technically, I think you have to be able to drive OUT of the state for it to be an INTERSTATE) and actually saw lightening. Oh well, what else could I do.

So, I did make it back up to the Banzai Pipeline.  Parking a couple hundred yards away from the beach park I slipped through a lesser known path to the Pipeline where I had watched the Backdoor Shootout surfing competition several years back.  Apparently, it's still ongoing.

There was a lot of misty element to the air and the sun didn't come out regularly so it was pretty hit and miss for the right light.  Red flags lined the beach but that's pretty much an every day occurrence up there.

Anyway, here's a few surfer pictures I took.


Full Moon

No, it's nothing to do with some tourist in a thong.

We just had another full moon here and couldn't resist going out on the Ala Wai Canal again in hopes of taking a different full moon shot.

These are not the best in the world but I'll keep on until I get what I am hoping to achieve.

Behind the clouds more than out



The End Is Near

On Darlene's last day here, we spent time walking around in Waikiki, had breakfast at Eggs N Things and enjoyed watching the huge variety of people all over the place.

At one time, we discussed how skimpy bathing suits have become over the years and talked about how we did not see that back home.  I remarked that it wouldn't surprise me if in the near future, men would start wearing a male version of the thongs that were in such abundance here.  Ms Darlene dismissed that notion and the subject was dropped.

We made our way down the street to the Moana Surfrider hotel where you could sit out under a giant Banyan tree and have dinner, drinks or just sit under a hundred year old Banyan tree and enjoy the ambiance.

Admittedly, I have the attention span of a lightening bolt and so Ms Darlene and I decided to take one last tour up the beach before going back to our room, collect her bags and make our way to the airport.

Since I had not brought my Nikon and had played on my cell phone until the battery was down to zero, I had no way of taking a picture but that was no big deal...right?

Well, as we were making our way out onto the sand I looked up and saw this dude in the tiniest thong I'd ever seen.  Darlene had not noticed so I motioned for her to look (as discreetly as possible) in a certain direction. 

"Take the picture!", I exclaimed.  "My phone is dead and can't take it!"  She fired off this beauty.

So, our final and parting shot should be entitled, "The End Is Near".

News from Oahu

Ms Darlene has been with me over the past 9 days.  While I would be at work, she shopped, walked the beaches and pretty much found her new favorite spot in the world.

One Friday evening, we went down to enjoy the weekly fireworks at the Hilton Hawaiian Village under a clear moonlit sky.

The place was wrapped up with locals and visitors alike.  Honestly, the fireworks did not go off at the appointed time so we were headed back to the car when the place just lit up with pyrotechnics.  They had delayed setting them off because of the police helicopter nearby that had assisted in the rescue of a capsized yacht.  Fortunately there were no injuries.

Over the two weekends she was here, we pretty much kept the roads hot trying to absorb as much of Oahu as possible.

Her spots as well as mine tended to be away from the crowds checking out the beaches and fabulous scenery stopping from time to time to digest it all.
 But each evening we would return back to town and take in Waikiki Beach again and do some serious people watching. 

There might have been some shopping involved as well.

Both weekends, we were a little disappointed that the waves were not as large as we had hoped.  Last Saturday, we went up on the north shore to the Pipeline thinking it would be terrific but when we arrived, the place almost looked like a lake.   Only a few surfers were out. 

Still, the drive was great and stopped to snap a few pictures of places we'd always seen but never really stopped long enough to enjoy.  Here's a different view of Chinaman's Hat near the ranch where Jurassic Park was filmed.

We stopped in amazement to see a half dozen young men make their way down through the rocks to do some diving from the cliffs.  It was a dangerous thing to do but when you're that age, you think you're bullet proof and the world is all Disneyland.  They probably did not know, but someone was killed doing the same thing a couple miles around the island at a place called Spitting Caves.

The Blowhole has been the demise of many as well.


I'm really glad she was able to come over for a week and a few days.  I know she enjoyed it and I appreciated her being here with me.


The Northshore Pipeline

We took a little drive up to the north shore of Oahu to see how the waves were.  For the most part, the Bonsai Pipeline was pretty tame but still, it was nice to see surfers out there.  In the late winter and early spring, the waves can be awesome and the dream of serious surfers everywhere.

A few years ago, while working here on the island, it was a favorite place of mine and visited it and the nearby town of Hale`iwa  (pronounced "Ha-lay-ee-vah") often.  You pretty much need to be looking for it to find because there are no glaring signs pointing to it saying "TURN HERE".  In other words, just Google it and click on the map.

Here's a few pictures.


Pool close....open 8 o'clock

My daily routine it get up around 5:45 A.M., make myself a really sturdy cup of espresso roast coffee in a french press, watch a little local news and check my email before getting ready for the day.

As I start the day, I go down to the first floor at 7:00 A.M. to take part in a hotel's continental breakfast at the Aqua Aloha Surf.  Well, this morning I got a few minutes late start so when I arrived, the place was wrapped up with Japanese tourists and seating was pretty sparse.  With virtually no place to eat my breakfast, I headed for the pool area where I'd eaten several times before.

A pool guy was inside the gated area wiping the tables after just hosing them off.   As I reached for the gate to go inside, he looked up and said, "Pool close...open eight!"

"No sir, I am not swimming.  I just want to eat my breakfast at the tables."

 "Pool close...open eight!"

Clearly he could see I was dressed in business casuals (aloha shirt, slacks, brown leather shoes, etc.), definitely did not look like a swimmer and sorta important.  Besides, I didn't even have a towel.

"No sir, I'm not going swimming. I only want to sit at the tables," I said forcefully and reached for the gate latch again.

"Pool close...OPEN EIGHT!"

There is no argument if the one you argue with isn't speaking English and I don't know Portuguese, Micronesian or Whatever so I just gave him a blank stare, rolled my eyes and chose to eat my boiled eggs and orange slice standing.

He was simply doing his job, was effective at it and honestly, I can appreciate his boldness to stand by his instructions and not be swayed or bullied to abandon his mission. 

I mumbled, grumbled and sulked in English though.


Oahu - Honolulu

A couple of weekends ago, before the rain, I checked out Manoa Falls here on Oahu.   From the parking lot, it's just less than a mile up to the falls through groves of bamboo and a rocky and somewhat muddy trail.

Well visited by locals and visitors alike, it's not all that difficult and little keikis (local word for children) running ahead of their parents who continued to yell at them to be careful.

Honestly, I pretended to stop a lot to be courteous and let other travelers pass on the narrow trail so I wouldn't appear out of breath.  I was grateful I had brought along my tripod to stabilize myself in fear of slipping on the rocks.  They had gotten very greasy after hundreds of muddy feet had plastered mud on them.

I won't even try to tell you it was the most outstanding thing I've seen on Oahu but it was a better venue  than hanging out with the tourists on Waikiki.

Also, on the trip back, I stopped off at a couple of waysides to get down and visit some small flowing streams.

I had planned on visiting the arboretum near there but ¾ the way down, it began to rain so I opted to speed up and visit the Treetops Restaurant adjacent to the parking lot.  The food was a so-so buffet of Asian/Fusion dishes with some good old mainland bread pudding as a comfort food.

This weekend, I took a tour around the NE side, trying to see if I could find the old Magnum PI TV show location.

Failing to find the home of Magnum and Higgins, stumbled onto several hang gliders working the cliffs.

A couple of them really got off on buzzing the half dozen bystanders positioned by the road overlooking the bay.  While looking toward the sea, you could hear a little breezy sound and look up just in time to see them zip over you.  Sometimes they approached head on.

So, after church Sunday, I felt a little guilty just sitting around at the hotel so I strolled on down to Waikiki to see if it was still there. Sure enough, it was crowded with the usual surfers coming and going, old tourists trudging around in shorts, flowered Aloha shirts and sandals with socks on them.

I know I will not get a lot of sympathy from anyone but the temperatures were in the low nineties with high humidity making the real feel at 103°.

So I headed back to the hotel to sit under the air condition until late in the afternoon when I would go out.  The light will be better for photos later...yes, that's it.  The light's better.

So just east of here is Hawaii Kai.  Nice sunset.


Early on the Ala Wai

I'm living at the Aqua Aloha Surf hotel on the corner of Kanekapale and Ala Wai Avenue in Waikiki.  That's a mouthful, huh?

Anyway, I woke early and looked out to see a crescent moon reflection on the Ala Wai Canal and it seemed right and just to grab my faithful Nikon and take a short stroll.  At 4:30 in the morning, I pretty much had it to myself, save a few other insomniacs, joggers and walkers.

Hard as I tried, I couldn't make the camera produce the beauty I saw with my own eyes.  As the morning brightened, more and more walkers and runners began to take advantage of the early morning beauty.   Being careful to keep my lens pack on my back rather than putting it on the ground so I wouldn't be an easy target for purse and pack snatchers (we have to have our stuff), I squeezed off a hundred or so images hoping to produce "the one" that I was looking for.

I was so enthused about the crescent moon and later the sunrise that came from the same direction and I began to reflect on how God produces miracles served up daily and our only job is to recognize them.  It's like an Easter egg hunt where many eggs are hidden and the children have to search for them, occasionally asking the father or mother for hints to where they can be found.

After feeling all holy and blessed, I observed a man still sleeping on a bench and wondered if his observance of beauty and miracles would be like mine.  I just don't know.