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Traveling Angel: A taste of Japan in Hawaii

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The Yataimura food court, part of the Shirokiya Japan Village Walk, offers delicious Japanese bento style lunch boxes, tradtional hotpots and “street” foods – All of which have become an integral part of Hawaii’s Regional Food Culture.

Tucked away in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Honolulu’s Ala Moana Shopping Center is what seems like a market place a world apart – The Shirokiya Japan Village Walk.

It doesn’t take long for a traveler to the island to see that Hawaii’s Japanese roots run deep. You can order a mochi sampler platter at any local 7-11 convenient store for goodness sake – and it isn’t half bad either. Though I know the Japanese contribution to Hawaii’s cultural identity is so much more than that – I’m not complaining about the delicious mochi to be found almost everywhere you go. Just sayin. Mahalo Japan.

This isn’t the last time you’ll read about Shirokiya in the course of this blog. Its one of my favorite spots downtown. While I hardly advise travelers to frequent a mall of all places when traveling to some place new – especially in Hawaii, with no shortage of natural scenic beauty,  Shirokiya and the Yataimura Food court are the rare exceptions.

Hawaii’s a melting pot if you didn’t already know. Don’t let the leis and chocolate macadamia nuts fool you. Just ask any local what some of their favorite local food fare is and most likely you’ll get responses that vary from Filipino lumpias, Korean barbecue and kimchee, and of course, one of Japan’s gifts to the world – Sushi, in all its wonderful forms, can be found in Hawaii among all the other international offerings.

Shirokiya offers visitors to the island a chance to take two trips in one so to speak, letting you stroll through a little piece of Japan without leaving Honolulu. With Shirokiya’s convenient central location within the Ala Moana shopping center why not check it out?

I Digress.

While I frequent Shirokiya Village walk for my favorite takoyaki (octopus fritters mmmm) bento lunch and katsu chicken curry – almost on a weekly basis – I decided to head down this first week of January to check out the Takasaki Daruma Doll Festival.

Daruma Dolls are a symbol for perseverance and good fortune within the Japanese Culture.

While these little guys whitedarumaare produced in every region of Japan the city of Takasaki has become the headquarters for this New Year Tradition. Takasaki Daruma dolls are unique because of the artful details in the doll’s eyebrows and mustache. If you look closely you might even see that the eyebrows resemble the graceful Japanese crane and the mustache is painted in the motif of the turtle. Each of these animals are symbolic of longevity.

Daruma are sold without the pupils of the eyes drawn in. The right eye of the doll is filled in by the patron once they set a goal or make a wish for the upcoming new year. Only when the goal is achieved is the left eye drawn in!

 

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The dolls come in a variety of colors with different meanings for each hue. Red Daruma emphasize the well being of a family, an increase of luck, good health, safety and success. Yellow dolls bring luck in financial affairs, and protection from disaster – who doesn’t hope for that in a new year right? Pink Daruma are popular among couples and newlyweds for their blessings in love, marriages, and giving birth. White bring promises for relaxation, while Black Daruma are said to ward off evil. Starting a new semester? Learning something new? Try a blue Daruma doll for success in educational pursuits and increased talent. Pretty cool right?

 

12511743_1262372207111471_1283977039_n12511767_1262372153778143_70138144_n Last years Daruma, representative of goals achieved and blessings given through out the year are collected and taken to the local shrine in the traditional New Year “Expression of Gratitude” Ceremony.

It was nice to visit the different stalls, talk with the vendors and be reminded to make my own new year goals. but planning for the future can work up an appetite!

Shirokiya is home to a couple of bakeries and a number food stalls that offer everything from fluffy chocolate cream puffs, dense Japanese style cheesecakes, handmade gyoza, jelly lattes and colorful fresh sushi bentos. Vendors also sell unique Japanese food items and beautifully packaged gift sets of Japanese treats.

I decided to sample a few offerings from the KuluKulu Bakery. Japan is known for their impeccable presentation, attention to detail and use of color, as is evident in different aspects of the culture like delicate, balanced flower 12516092_1262372127111479_64223432_n arranging, precise tea ceremonies with calculated, graceful dance like movements – food is no exception to the Japanese aesthetic. Everywhere I went, something as simple as dikon radishes and ginger were color coordinated packaged in perfect symmetry alongside each other. There was golden brown squid grilled in a light savory sake teriyaki sauce nestled near deep purple octopus and pillowy tempura vegetables …. any takers? no? just me? Shirokiya also has a tasty selection of sandwiches and fresh made smoothies and juices too if you aren’t feeling that adventurous. Its a new year – baby steps.

At KuluKulu Bakery I tried their popular diamond head custard cream puff which was – well … perfection. Airy cream puff pastry full of a delectable cream cheese, whipped cream wonderful vanilla hybrid. Be carefeul. They’re addictive and I can tell might be something of a problem for me in the future. I also had a dainty little blueberry cheesecake tart – fresh and not overly sweet to say nothing of the simple lovely presentation. I also tried mini kulukulu waffles … mini bear and heart shaped waffles individually poured, and filled with a variety of fillings that range from macha green tea, strawberry, and sweet red bean paste. Of course – only for the sake of the cause –  I tried every flavor …. man. The things we do for the sake our jobs …. am I right?

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Everyone will tell you there’s a lot to do in Oahu – and that’s true. What places like Shirokiya offer are a chance to have an adventure  that you might not have thought to have while visiting downtown Honolulu. Hula dancing? Snorkeling? – of course those things are one on your Hawaii “to do” list – as well they should be – but cmon … Sampling Japanese barbecue squid, chit chatting with aunties and uncles from the community, and checking out a New Year Daruma Festival? It doesn’t get much cooler than that. Not without catching another flight I mean!

Happy New Year Travelers! Get out there – Do something new – and All the best wherever it is that 2016 takes you!

Angel for Sit Vacations

Aloha! I'm Angel! a little about me: travel blogger, resident of Oahu's beautiful North Shore, owner of two fat lazy dogs :)

Aloha! I’m Angel! a little about me: travel blogger, resident of Oahu’s beautiful North Shore, owner of two fat lazy dogs :)

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Off-Topic: Hashtag Success

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This holiday season we at Sit Vacations want to make sure that you get inspired to do what is right and get the success you deserve in the coming years!

Here are some off-topic quotes we found online that can help you get the success that you want.

 


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Hawaii Island Facts

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Before enjoying your Escorted Tours to Hawaii, we have some information for you regarding the islands of Hawaii.

Read them and Enjoy!

 

 


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Move to Hawaii or Just Vacation There?

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WISH YOU WERE HERE!
and there’s a chance you wish you were here too!

With SIT VACATIONS’ NEWEST PROMOTION FOR 2016 its never been easier to see all that Hawaii has to offer in one trip at one affordable all inclusive rate.

See four islands – over two incredible weeks!

There’s something for the lone explorer, the love birds, families and friends … every kind of traveler can find something special here in Beautiful Hawaii.

Hele Mai. Come See Us Soon.
Let SIT VACATIONS take you there.

We found this infographic about moving to Hawaii on one of the people we follow on Pinterest. Read and enjoy.

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Zoom in if you want the image bigger.

 


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Soak, Swim and Float in Water in your Next Samoa Vacation

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From the moment you arrive at Samoa, you realise that’s what you were looking for holidays. The beautiful beaches, lush green environment at perfect stretch of cliff-backed turquoise lagoon and friendly locals give you a warm welcome to spend some time at pacific paradise. Thanks to absence of any real industry in the beautiful island and its extreme isolation, which has turned Samoa vacation, a perfect choice of nature lovers, vacationers and adventure seekers.

Water is known as elixir for life due to its endless virtuous in keeping you fit and healthy. Not just by drinking water, water activities are also great way of staying fit. No matter what is your reason to soak in water, Samoa is a perfect holiday destination for swimming, snorkelling and soaking in water. Travellers here love to get indulge in a variety of water activities. Samoa travel gives you chance to get immersed in crystal clear water and enjoy some of the most enchanting under-sea adventures:

Surfing

Samoa is increasingly become the favourite destinations of surfers around the world. Its two popular main islands of Upolu and Savaii proffer a diverse surfing experience that no surfer wants to miss. Some of the popular surfing spots in Savaii are Lano and Ananoa Beach in the southwest, and Manase and Fagamalo in the north. There are also several resorts to catering to surfing lovers in Upolu and Savaii.

Diving

Upolu and Savaii are the popular dive sports where you can get chance to play with spinner dolphins, stingrays and whales and almost nine hundred fish species. With its protecting reefs, it provides easy way to dive inside as well as outside the reefs. These dive spots are perfect for all certification levels and also for dive training. Located at Vaiala beach, Apia’s Palolo Deep National Marine Reserve is one of the safest spots for diving. Besides it, Fish Bowl near the airport also offers a wide marine life to explore.

Snorkelling

Palolo Deep Marine Reserve in Apia town is a popular snorkelling destination. In the South East area, Lalomanu is the perfect place for those wishing to explore the underwater world. One thing to be recommended here is not forget taking along an underwater camera to capture the clicks for a lifetime memory.

Fishing

If you love fishing, Samoa is a perfect Pacific destination for you. Samoa’s surrounding reefs are underwater playground for a variety of fishes and coral reef species including masimasi, marlin, albacore, wahoo, sailfish, giant trevally, dolphin fish, barracuda, dog tooth tuna and yellow-fin tuna. There also professional fishing operators and charters in Samoa. You can join them for few hours to enjoy fishing at the shore or you can also opt for an adventurous charter to idyllic fishing destinations.

If you are planning for Samoa vacation, get Samoa travel deals and don’t forget to prepare yourself to indulge in playful underwater and activities to explore the beautiful world under the sea.

Divers, snorkellers, surfers, kayakers and paddleboarders may even spot turtles near the edge of the fringing coral reef.


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Exclusive Hawaii Vacation Package

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Hawaii 1-Island

Exclusive 7 days tour, full of luxury and comfort. Accommodation and optional tours also available. Book now!


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Welcome to SIT Vacations travel blog

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Hawaii & Samoa vacations is an exclusive trip provided by  SIT Vacations which ensures a hassle free and luxury tour.