We ended 2006 and started 2007 in paradise, Maui to be exact. It was great seeing Dave’s family again, and helping out where we could with the family businesses.
Miyako Sushi is owned and operated by Dave’s brother Michael, but it’s definitely a family affair, with Dave’s parents Sadako and Douglas, nieces Cindy and Sandy, and sister-in-law Judy all pitching in year round. Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve are the two busiest days of the year, so former workers are called out of retirement to help and, yes, even two mainland computer geeks were put to use.
New Year’s Eve is by far the busier time of the two. Our shift began at 2am. We started out at miscellaneous stations, such as making cone sushi (fortunately the fried tofu, which they now import from the island of Oahu, is much less prone to tearing than the local brand). However, we quickly found our niche scooping out sushi rice for the rolled sushi makers.
The job couldn’t be simpler in concept- measuring out 10-ounce pans of rice for the regular sushi rolls, with the occasional 8-ounce pan for California rolls. But the ladies doing the rolling were incredibly fast, and there were six of them. Even with two of us constantly scooping, weighing, handing out, and retrieving rice pans, we could barely keep up. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are still finding our splattered rice on the walls.
Finally, after what seemed an eternity, they called for a rest. It was not even 3am! It turned out to be break time for the first shift, which had gotten there a few hours ahead of us. 13 more hours to go!
Our scooping did help out quite a bit, luckily, so production was able to complete before 11am. But there was still more work to be done boxing orders and arranging party platters. By the time we were excused, we were totally exhausted. I can’t imagine doing that as a full time job!
The other family business is Standard Furniture, built by Dave’s grandfather (literally, using recycled wood) and named after Standard Garage (his first business, which sold Standard Oil gasoline). Dave’s cousin Kyle is the store manager, with Kyle’s parents and brother Scott helping out. Dave is the computer support guy for both businesses, including software support. Jean actually wrote the Miyako Sushi business software from scratch back in the 80’s (the writing and supporting of this ancient relic is a saga unto itself).
A few days after the New Year’s rush, we took Michael’s family out for a Segway tour of Lahaina. The Segway is a two-wheeled, self-balancing, all-electric transporter. While it hasn’t revolutionized human transportation as it was originally hyped, it is still very cool technology. The tour lasted about three hours, including about a half hour of training in the parking lot. Our guide took us all around the back streets of Lahaina, including a run on the beach. Later models use a "lean-to-steer" handlebar system, but the Segways we rented used the earlier twist grip system, which was very counter-intuitive to operate and made for some exciting mishaps (injury-free, fortunately).
One of the goals of the Christmas trip to Hawaii was for Jean to make contacts at several kendo schools on Oahu and Maui for a potential trip by Norwalk Kendo Dojo in the summer. The legendary "aloha spirit" of the Islands came through, and the trip was on.
The 8-day early August itinerary was jam-packed with kendo practices, sightseeing, and activities. On Oahu, the group practiced kendo at Kaifukan Dojo in Kailua, Waipahu Seibukan Dojo in Aiea, Hawaii Kendo Federation Honbu in Kaimuki, and Kenshikan Dojo in Honolulu, as well as visiting Mitsune Dojo on Maui. Sight-seeing and activities included Kailua Beach, Sandy Beach, Dole Plantation, Shark’s Cove snorkelling, Waikiki Beach, Paradise Cove Luau, Kula Botanical Gardens, Haleakala Crater, Iao Valley, road to Hana and Seven Sacred Pools, Waianapanapa Black Sand Beach, and much, more, along with daily doses of delicious local food.
The hospitality of all of the dojos was amazing. We were treated to fabulous lunches, snacks, and desserts, along with our self-inflicted daily exhaustion. It was definitely a trip to remember for everyone!