Category Archives: lifestyle



The colorful flower cards are thicker than Western-style cards and players enjoy the “smacking” sound they make when slapped together.

In the 18th year of Tenmon (A.D. 1549) when Francisco Xavier landed in Japan from Europe the crew of his ship had carried a set of Hombre, 48-card Portuguese playing cards, which became extremely popular with the Japanese. Through a colorful history of being banned and declared illegal (which did not diminish cardplaying and gambling by the populace) the game of Hanafuda, which combined traditional Japanese games with Western-style playing cards, was developed in the late 1800s.

Entertaining and highly addictive the Hanafuda cards contain no numbers. Instead the 48 cards in the deck use pictures of flowers and plants. The deck is organized into 12 suites, one for each month of the year, and the types of plants represent the months in which they bloom. Hanafuda is commonly played in Hawaii and South Korea, though under different names. In Hawaii it is called Sakura, Hanafura, and Higobana.

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Just ask any local or longtime resident about this card game and you will likely invoke wonderful memories of fun that could go on for hours, and hours, and hours!


HINAMATSURI Celebrating Girls Japanese Style

Grandmother to mother, mother to daughter ~ the wish for a daughter’s happiness is both valued and treasured, and still celebrated in this spirit.

The 3rd of March is called Hinamatsuri (Doll’s Festival) and has existed in Japan since the Edo Period (17 – 19 centuries). On this day families pray for the happiness and prosperity of their girls, to ward off evil spirits, and to help ensure that they grow up healthy and beautiful.  

A girl’s first “Girls’ Day” is called her Hatzu-Zekku and it is very popular for her to receive a Hina-Ningyo (doll) display. This display can have up to seven tiers with dolls and small furniture. At the top are the dolls of the emperor and empress, with a miniature gilded screen placed behind them, very much like the imperial court.

The dolls are ceremonial dolls, a heritage of the household, many of them handed down from generation to generation. They are displayed for a few days in the best room of the house at this festival time then carefully boxed and put away until the next year.  There is a superstition that says that families slow to put away the dolls will have trouble marrying off their daughters!

In addition to displaying Hina dolls, special foods are included in the celebration. Hina arare (pastel-colored light rice crackers) and hishimochi (diamond- shaped rice cakes with pink, green, and white layers) are placed in front of the Hina dolls as an offering.

Shirozake, a sweet drink made from fermented rice, is also served. Similar to sake, but without alcohol, it is safe for children to enjoy as well.

The celebration of Hinamatsuri, brought to Hawaii in the 1800s by Japanese immigrants who settled here to work on plantations, is one of so many diverse cultural traditions that have become part of life here in Maui Nui.





He who plants a garden plants happiness.  If you want to be happy for a lifetime, plant a garden.  ~ Chinese Proverb 

U.S. Dept. of Agriculture poster promoting victory gardens. ~ 1942

VICTORY GARDEN is not only PBS’s longest running gardening show on television.  During World Wars I & II, also called war gardens or food gardens for defense, these were vegetable, fruit and herb gardens planted at private residences to reduce the pressure on the public food supply brought on by the war effort.  These gardens were also considered a civil “morale booster” because gardeners felt empowered by their contribution of labor and rewarded by the produce grown.

In 1943, 20 million private and public gardens were producing 8 million tons of food.

Today food travels thousands of miles over many days from farm to table, and the cycle of planting, fertilizing, processing, packaging, and transporting our food uses enormous amounts of energy and contributes to global warming.

Hawaii has less than a seven day supply of many foods, especially perishables. Some 90% percent of our food is imported.

Drawing from the rich history of World War I & II Victory Gardens, there is a growing movement giving a new meaning to ‘victory’.   ♦ fresher, healthier food consumption    ♦ independence from corporate food systems    ♦ self-sufficiency, sustainability, and good stewardship    ♦ more people involved in the natural environment


 43 million American households are expected to grow their own fruits, vegetables, herbs and berries this year.

That’s up 19 percent over last year, according to a survey conducted in January by the National Gardening Association.  About a fifth of gardeners this year will be new to the activity, the survey says. Most — 54 percent — said they will garden because it saves them money on food bills.  A slightly larger group said they garden because homegrown food tastes better.

In recent time the self-sustainability movement has brought back the good sense of home gardening, and today ‘recession’ gardens spotlight the value of gardening during tough economic times.  Thanks to Hawaii’s mild, year-round climate, it is a fertile place that sustains many types of crops.  New gardeners should start out slow, learn as you go, and seek advice from neighborhood growers who can be most helpful when it comes to learning about the local environment.

A family that spends about $100 on a garden will save $860 -$2,500 in grocery bills over the course of a year.

HOME GROWN mo’ bettah!


  • are fresher and taste better
  • are available year-round
  • have much less environmental impact
  • preserve green space & farmland
  • promote food safety
  • support our local economy
  • provide variety
  • create community

By eating foods that are grown and raised locally, with the same air and water that we breathe and drink, we connect to this unique environment and become part of the local ecosystem.

Think you can’t taste the difference between lettuce picked yesterday and lettuce picked last week, factory-washed, and sealed in plastic?  You can.  And fresh food lasts longer too.  The fewer steps there are between your food’s source and your table the less chance there is of health-threatening contamination.  And don’t forget that those thousands of miles our food imports are shipped creates a big carbon footprint.


If a home garden is not for you then buy local.  Almost 60% of MAUI COUNTY land is in agriculture with 1,096 farm and livestock operations producing cattle, hogs, eggs, honey, aquaculture, sugar, pineapple, vegetables and melons, fruits, coffee, macadamia nuts, and taro.  The highest vegetable crop production per pound is cucumbers, followed by cabbage, onions, taro, Italian squash and romaine lettuce.  Other diversified crops including flowers and nursery products are rapidly expanding and account for about 70% of farm revenue.

When buying locally produced foods we’re not only eating healthier, we’re benefiting our community, environment, and lifestyle.



MAUI NUI is world-renowned for magnificent beachfront, currently boasting a Makena beach property listed at $22 million.  But there is another reality to living on the beach…

According to the HOMELESS SERVICE UTILIZATION REPORT, HAWAI`I 2010, the number of Maui County persons served by Shelter and Outreach Programs has reached 1,161 — tripling since 2005.   11% of this population is employed, and 9% consist of families with children.  (

These numbers do not account for the hidden homeless, who sleep on a relative’s sofa, or in their cars, or camp in areas not as visible as the public beaches.  The housing boom and bust sweeping across the U.S. is displacing families nationwide, but the problem in Hawaii — where land costs are more than five times the national average — is particularly acute. Rents in Hawaii are among the highest in the nation. Both the inventory of public and affordable housing, and the availability of emergency shelter is limited.

 “If we don’t do something to address the crisis in affordable housing we are not going to solve homelessness.”

Nan Roman, President-National Alliance to End Homelessness

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KALA: Hawaiian Money Before the Dollar

The Hawaiian Islands once issued their own currency and coinage under their own rulers.

Hawai’i’s first modern government was established in the early 19th century, but it wasn’t until 1847 that they established a modern treasury and issued currency.  Before this, Hawaiians relied on various plantation tokens and foreign coins.   The economy was so small it was not difficult to trade in this manner. 

As the economy and population grew, it became more difficult to exchange disparate monies, so a new, local money was established.  The dala or dollar was the currency of Hawaii between 1847 and 1898.  It was equal to the US dollar and was divided into 100 keneta or cents.  The 1847 Kamehameha penny was the first coin issued by the Hawaiian government.    The penny was the smallest denomination with several coins in between paralelling the structure and value of the U.S. dollar of the time.  They were minted in copper and produced in small numbers by a private U.S. mint — just enough for the small population of the islands.

During his reign (1874-1891), King Kalakaua was committed to developing Hawai’i’s power in the South Pacific and bringing more income to his small nation.  He needed new money to improve his country’s economy.  The old coins were eliminated from circulation, and a new set of money was commissioned. The U.S. Mint (as it still does today for other countries) produced this new coinage for Hawaii, and in 1883 they came up with Hawaii’s four requested coins: 1 dollar, 1/2 dollar, 1/4 dollar, and 1/8 dollar.  Larger denominations were also produced as paper currency, up to a $500 bill, in the allegorical style of most Western Hemisphere money of the time.

In 1898, Hawai’i became a territory of the  United States, and eventually the U.S. dollar supplanted their local currency.  However, this wasn’t the end of special Hawaiian money.  In January 1942, one month after Pearl Harbor was bombed, the U.S. government fearing enemy invasion announced that “New Money” was on its way.  

Specially imprinted notes became the only legal tender and had no value outside Hawai’i. The new money consisted of $1, $5, $10 and $20 denominations. Brown seals and serial numbers replaced the green and blue ones and the word HAWAII appeared twice on the front and once really big across the back. The ‘old’ money would no longer be legal tender in Hawai’i.

Due to citizen resistance, it took 27 months to complete the transition and to have the new money in circulation. The government appointed a special committee to dispose of some 200 million dollars of old money.  The enormous quantity of notes was hauled to the Aiea Sugar Mill on Oahu and incinerated.

Today, old Hawaiian coin and currency is  highly valued by collectors around the world.




In 2008, voter turnout in Maui County was 61.1%, the lowest in the State — with Hawaii ranked the lowest in the nation.

                                                                                                                                                                 Soon some of us will head to the polls and vote. But based on history, most of us won’t. Voter turnout has been declining so stubbornly since the 1960s that barely half the electorate votes in presidential elections, and only 36 to 38 percent does in off-year elections such as this one. Actually, voters are America’s newest, most powerful minority.

Just how much do we value our constitutionally protected right to choose our own leaders?

In 2008, just 36 out of every 100 Maui Nui residents cast a vote. Did these voters represent your voice, and your choice in determining who would lead our county into the future? Did they share your vision for Maui Nui? Did they speak for you?

There is no right to vote in the United States Constitution, so each state’s standards have evolved separately. When the Constitution was written, only white male property owners (about 10-16 percent of the nation’s population) had the right to vote. And in spite of a successful, 200+ year universal suffrage movement the United States was one of the last Western nations to guarantee the vote to all citizens.  Yet Americans vote less than any other people in Western societies. 

 Low turnout is most pronounced in off-year elections for state legislators and local officials, as well as in primaries. And there are enormous disparities that exist in America across income levels in all forms of participation, particularly voting. Add certain barriers to voting, such as registration and the untimely scheduling of elections during the workweek, that further expand the disparity in turnout between low and high-income voters. It is clear that the removal of barriers has the potential to not only increase turnout, but also to narrow the gap in voting disparities.

However, turnout decline cannot be blamed solely on  barriers because voter motivation is by far the biggest factor involving participation. Rules like voter registration laws, early voting and polling place accessibility that affect voter access do matter. But when addressing motivation there are a range of factors, such as voter perceptions of the importance of the choice, how close the election is, and how much different potential outcomes will affect their lives – that matter more.  Even if those perceptions do not reflect reality.

The issues facing Maui County, and the State of Hawaii, like every other county and state in America, are unique. But as an extended ohana we are joined together as a nation, and depend on each other to be the best that we can be, individually and collectively. 

 Voter turnout is a necessary factor for a healthy democracy. We must do better. The schools can do more to give students a decent civic education and to help them register so that the first election upon graduation is a step toward lifelong participation. Other entities-including the churches, the news media, the universities, the nonprofits, unions, and corporations-must also use their power to assist people in the exercise of the vote. 

If citizens cannot be encouraged to participate more fully, our community, our county, our state, and our nation will face the far greater challenge of how to maintain self-government — of the people and by the people — when people don’t vote.





WELL-BEING: Hawai’i Ranks #1…Again

Among all 50 states, Hawai’i ranks #1 Overall for 2009.  

Interestingly, within the State of Hawai’i, rural Congressional District 2 (which includes Maui County) ranked higher than it’s urban Congressional district 1 (City and County of Honolulu) in only one category, ‘Life Evaluation’. 

Of note is the positive change  in Hawai’i’s ranking in the ‘Work Environment’ Index from #50 in 2008, to #5 in 2009. 

Maintaining it’s 2008 #1 position in both ‘Emotional Health’ and in ‘Life Evaluation’  Hawai’i’s 2009 ranking improved adding #1 in ‘Physical Health’ and moving into the top spot of  ‘Well-Being Overall.’

Implemented in January, 2008, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index is the first and largest survey of its kind. It is the official statistic for Well-Being in America, giving a daily measure of people’s comfort level at the close of every day. It is based on the World Health Organization (WHO) definition of health as not only the absence of infirmity and disease but also a state of physical, mental and social well-being. The Well-Being Index is already the largest behavioral economic database ever created and, over the next quarter century, will generate more than nine million individual responses.

The index includes six sub-indexes:

Life Evaluation: A self-evaluation of two items—(1) present life situation and (2) anticipated life situation five years from now.

HAWAI’I #1 (#1 in 2008) 

Physical Health: Includes nine items—sick days in past month, disease burden, health problems that get in the way of normal activities, obesity, feeling well-rested, daily energy, daily colds, daily flu, and daily headaches.

HAWAI’I #1 ( #3 in 2008)

Emotional Health: Includes 10 items—smiling or laughter, learning or doing something interesting, being treated with respect, enjoyment, happiness, worry, sadness, anger,  stress, and diagnosis of depression.

HAWAI’I #1 (#1 in 2008)

Healthy Behavior: Includes four items—smoking, eating healthy, weekly consumption of fruits and vegetables, and weekly exercise frequency.

HAWAI’I #2 (#4 in 2008)

Work Environment: Includes four items—job satisfaction, ability to use one’s strengths at work, supervisor’s treatment (more like a boss or a partner), and whether it is an open and trusting work environment.

HAWAI’I #5 (#50 in 2008)

Basic Access: Includes 13 items—access to clean water, medicine, safe place to exercise, affordable fruits and vegetables; enough money for food, shelter, healthcare; have health insurance, have a doctor, have visited a dentist recently; satisfaction with the community, the community getting better as a place to live, feeling safe walking alone at night.

HAWAI’I #9 ( #9 in 2008)

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