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Christmas Postcard Story

December 1, 2018

Paris, France

Osaka, Japan

Machu Picchu, Peru

Matamata, New Zealand

I love receiving Christmas photo cards from relatives and friends during the Christmas season. But I was never able to reciprocate. Getting Christmas cards printed seemed like such a “family” type of activity. I decided to change that.

I started making Christmas postcards to mail out to family and friends in 2013. It’s a great way of keeping in touch and spreading Christmas cheer. The very first one was of me riding an elephant in Thailand. Since then, it’s been an annual goal to travel to different places. You could half-jokingly say that these cards fuel my passion for travel.

Occasionally, people will ask me, “What’s your passion?” I reply, “I make Christmas cards…” And then I tell them this story. And if you’re wondering, I actually do pack a Santa hat on trips.

I now give out these postcards in lieu of gifts. Am I being too “cheap?” Actually, these cards cost thousands of dollars to produce. 🤗 Merry Christmas.


Happy Thanksgiving & Happy Thanksliving

November 21, 2018

So thankful for each and every blessing! Here are the Top 10 things that I am thankful for in 2018:

1. Jesus.
2. I am thankful for my family and friends. I do not deserve them.
3. I am thankful for my health. I just need to get in shape. (Pears do not count.)
4. I attend a wonderful church, Inspire Honolulu. Consider yourself invited.
5. I am blessed to be at the Kamehameha Schools with an amazing team. I laugh everyday.
6. I live in the best neighborhood. #OurKakaako
7. I am blessed to sponsor a child in the Philippines. I was happy to sponsor Marla for 15 years, and now I sponsor Maekylyn. This is the most important thing that I do.
8. TED-Ed. Technologies will come and go. Great ideas never go out of style…
9. Travel. This is my passion. Seoul in 2018. Hopefully Hong Kong in 2019.
10. Life.

“Rejoice always,  pray without ceasing,  in everything give thanks…”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Seoul 서울 Trip

October 9, 2018

Just got back from a solo trip to Seoul. Had an amazing time! Here are some of the highlights in a 4½ minute video.


Punahou Global Educator Strand

July 29, 2018

Photo credit @rokada55

Excited to have attended Punahou’s Global Educator Strand this past week. My fave summer PD. Global Educator Strand was first developed for the chaperones of SGLI (Student Global Leadership Institute,) and is now open to anyone. I first attended Global Educator two summers ago in 2016.

Was able to reconnect with great friend Roddy from Japan, who facilitated this year’s event. And yes, it was great making new friendships from around the world. There were nearly 40 of us from 22 schools in 9 different countries. It was an amazing three days at the Wo International Center.

On Day 1, we introduced ourselves and our schools. We began to develop a working definition of global education. After lunch, we visited Jamey Clarke’s lab and learned about his teaching of physics through ukulele building and social conscience.

On Day 2, I had a morning meeting with teachers from Trinity School in NYC whom I had met at Global Educator in 2016. I missed Dr. Scott’s presentation, but was able to make it back for lunch and the afternoon breakout sessions.

Photo credit @Lausensei

On Day 3, we were treated to wonderful student presentations in the morning. I was later able to present on my TED-Ed journey. We ended our day with afternoon breakout sessions and the completion of our “Great Wall of Ideas.” We had our afterparty fika at the Study Hall in Puck’s Alley. It was great to spend time with these amazingly, awesome people.

The PD ended on Wednesday, but I attended the SGLI farewell picnic at Kaimana Beach (Waikiki) on Friday afternoon. A beautiful sunset, and a great way to end our time together.

Mahalo to Chai, Wendi, Lorelei, & Roddy, and congrats on another successful SGLI.


July 13, 2018

Received my makana for 15 years of service at the Kamehameha Schools today. 15 years went by really fast! So many good memories. My ETS ʻohana, Camp Erdman, Hoʻolauleʻa, Song Contest, field trips, sporting events, student admission interviews, conferences, the laughter, the relationships, and so much more.

Too many good things to mention in one post, but here are a few highlights…

2003 I had the best job in the world at Kapolei Elementary. Still, it’s always a good thing to try something new. I will always remember my very first day at Kamehameha Schools. (No matter how hard I try to forget.) It was a disaster. I flew over to the Big Island campus and laid an egg. An inauspicious debut to say the least.

2004 At first, I supported KS Preschools and Extension Ed. In the Fall of 2004, I moved to the elementary campus. Highlights were Camp Erdman, iMua Video, and my very first ISTE Conference in New Orleans.

2005 Went on my first 6th grade Big Island Huakaʻi. What a blast! Also got to go to ISTE in Philly. Played “hookie” one day and visited NYC.

2006 This is the year that I signed up for over 30 social media accounts. Launched iCan Café (informal professional development.) Our ETS Team also had an awesome retreat at the Punaluʻu Beach House.

2007 I volunteered for our Big Brothers Big Sisters after school program. Chaperoned our Hawaiian Astronomy Class in the summer with Judy. Tiana graduated.

2008 Presented at our first KS EdTech Conference at the Blaisdell. Joined Renee at the middle school. A definite highlight was leading worship for the 7th Grade Chapel. Celebrated 5 yrs at KS.

2009 My first experience as a club advisor. I believe that iMua Sports Network was the first of its kind at the middle school level.

2010 The highlight of the year was traveling to Australia for JEM. My homestay was with Deborah & Henry. Awesome life experience. Tris graduated.

2011 I attended ISTE. It was in Philly again. Also attended Blackboard World in Las Vegas.

2012 In the Spring, I tagged along on an EF Tour to Italy & Spain with Metz. My first time to Europe! In the summer, I attended ISTE in San Diego.

2013 Went on the Koa Planting trip to the Big Island. Moved to the high school to join the Bishop Boys. Celebrated a decade of service at Kamehameha. Presented at the iSummit at RDFZ Xishan in Beijing. Got to walk across the Great Wall of China. Wow!

2014 RDFZ visitation to our campus. Held our very first TEDxYouth@Kamehameha event! Went to ISTE in Atlanta. Serviced the Hawaiʻi campus middle school in the Fall (34 trips.)

2015  Established our TED-Ed Club and held an event. Had summer interns for the first time.

2016 Amazing, amazing trip to Machu Picchu and the Amazon. Bucket list stuff! Also participated in the Takahagi Friendship Exchange Program with the Japanese Club. Helped to bring EdCamp Honolulu to Kamehameha Schools. Incredibly, was selected to the TED-Ed Innovative Educators global cohort. Our Entrepreneurship Club participated in Kakaʻako Night Market @ SALT.

2017 Chaperoned our KES Children’s Chorus trip to Aotearoa. Attended the PL Summit in San Francisco. Was accepted into the Kealaʻula Innovations Institute.

2018 Attended SXSW EDU in Austin, TX. The following week, went on an R&D trip to the Bay Area with Kealaʻula. Capped off the school year with TED-Ed Club @ Hālau ʻĪnana. Phew.

The past 15 years have been an absolute blast! Very grateful for the blessing. Looking forward to the next 15. Imua…

Stories from My Childhood

June 16, 2018

“I remember days when we were younger…”

Growing up in the shadows of the old Honolulu Stadium in McCully was special. It was a place & time that no longer exists. I remember catching crayfish in Duck Pond, riding bike through my neighbors’ clotheslines, Checkers & Pogo, pinball at the Bowl-O-Drome, neighborhood okazuyas, Hawaiʻi Islanders baseball, Chunky’s Drive-in, Kikaida, and the manapua man. We would play all day and go to anyone’s house for lunch (oftentimes saimin & baloney sandwiches.) Ahh, memories.

“So long ago it seems it was a dream…”

Dad loved watching sumo on channel 13, KIKU tv.

Too bad for sis.

During commercial breaks, it was ON. I was Takamiyama. I would advance with hand thrusts while doing the referee’s call, “Ta dai, ta dai, ta dai, ta dai!”
Gale would say, “I’m not playing. I’m not playing.”
More attacks, “Ta dai, ta dai, ta dai, ta dai!” “Ta dai, ta dai, ta dai, ta dai!”
Out of frustration, Gale would unleash a combination of hand thrusts, slaps, and windmills at me.
“Woh,” I said. “I’m not playing.”

Kam School
Growing up, my best friend was Nathan (could only pronounce his name as “Natan.”) We’d play football, baseball, marbles, and burn beetle bugs with magnifying glasses. His sister was my first crush.

One day, looking sad, he said, “I’m moving schools. I have to go to Kam School.”
I said, “Then I’m going with you.”
He said, “You have to be Hawaiian. But all you need is a ‘pinky tip’ of Hawaiian blood.”

The next day, we came up with a plan. We would become blood brothers. I ran inside the house and grabbed two pins from mom’s pin cushion and dad’s cigarette matches. We crawled under the house and lit a match to sterilize the pins. We poked our pinkies and rubbed them together. Blood brothers!

Then I heard dad yelling, “What da h*ll are you doing?!! You trying to burn down da house??!”

Nathan ran, “I gotta go home.”

I stayed. I got dirty lickings. Dirty lickings with Hot Wheel tracks.
I cried, but it was worth it. “I’m going to Kam School,” I thought to myself.

Plumeria Tree
We had a plumeria tree in our backyard. It bloomed dark-pink flowers, almost fuchsia.

One day, sis and I were up in the tree. Being the inquisitive boy that I was, I pulled on a large branch, generating a ton of torque. I sorta let go. The inconsiderate branch then catapulted my sister over the fence and onto the sidewalk. She fell flat on her back. I turned pale. To my surprise, Gale instantly sprang to her feet and ran down the sidewalk (like hair on fire) and into the house. It was the loudest wail that our neighborhood has ever heard.

I slowly made my way across the yard towards the house, dragging my feet one-slipper-at-a-time through the grass. I heard dad yelling, “What da h*ll??!!” Tears started flowing down my cheeks. She came home later that afternoon from Queen’s with a broken collarbone. As for me? Not as lucky…

Postscript: Only a couple of years ago, sis and I were reminiscing about that day. I recalled every single detail as if it happened yesterday.

Gale said, “Wait a minute. You mean I didn’t just slip off the tree on my own??”
I said, “Um. Oh gosh. Y’know it happened so long ago. It’s all kinda fuzzy to me…”


(To be continued.)

We Did It!!!

May 12, 2018

TED-Ed Club @ Hālau ʻĪnana is a collaboration of students from public, private, and charter schools in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi.

Our TED-Ed Club Student Talks event was a success! Exhale…

After the cancelation from our leadoff speaker last night at 10:30pm, we scrambled to reset our schedule. Everything worked out well.

The talks were streamed live and can be viewed on Twitter @TEDEdHI.


• Project Kuleana performed beautiful pre-event music for about 20 minutes. We kept asking for another, and they kept delivering. They gave a powerful opening oli.

• Our awesome emcee Keely welcomed the audience, and we viewed an official TED-Ed Club video.

• Karen from ʻIolani got things started by speaking on career paths in the format of a recipe. Why not be passionate about something you’ll be “eating” for decades?

• Dayevin spoke on the current state of education. His solution? Project-based learning and passion. What school could be…

• We screened a video of Jason Tom at TEDxHonolulu. High energy and innovation in the arts.

• Next up was Hanai Makana, a team of students from Roosevelt who developed an app on endangered plants. Unfortunately, the lead presenter failed to show up, but the ones who did did a great job!

• A late entry, Gabriella from KHS, spoke on her passion of anthropology. Her passion lies in learning more about herself and in discovering more about her culture. She credits Kumu Curt Ai as being an inspiration.

• We viewed a video of Quinn Shiraishi from KS Maui at TEDxYouth@SeaburyHall. She offered a definition of what a “hero” is.

• This led to the interactive portion of the event. Everyone wrote the name of their hero on a sheet of paper, shared with their neighbor, then flew it at a target. This took us to intermission.

• Project Kuleana kicked-off the second half. They shared about how this class connected them to their culture, mele, and the land. Deep insights on how culture & innovation is not a contradiction, but a synergy.

• We screened a video of Jamaica Osorio and Ittai Wong on kauna at TEDxHonolulu. Our emcee Keely then shared about her deep connection to ʻōlelo.

• Kolaiah and Kaleolani from Hālau Kū Māna spoke about their cardboard planetarium and Polynesian voyaging. A video of the inside offered us a glimpse as to how intricate a project this was.

• Yoo Ra from ʻIolani spoke on the global issue of hunger. She pinpointed the cause to waste, and shared about how her club is making a difference locally.

• We watched a video of Jake Shimabukuro at TEDxHonolulu . A timeless classic.

• Our next speaker was Kayla from Waipahu High School. She told the story of her journey as a female student in the field of computer science and engineering. She credited Ian Kitajima from Oceanit as being a mentor.

• Our closing speaker was Madison, an elementary student from KES. She defined the qualities of a hero and then provided information about cancer. She spoke on the courage of her friend Ally who is battling bone cancer. An emotional and inspiring talk on empathy, friendship, and love. #AllyTamaStrong


• It was purely unintended, but the theme of “hero” emerged from today’s talks.

• The crowd was on the smallish side. I estimate that there were about 20 student presenters and 30 audience members. We usually average 40-60 audience members at these events. Could be that an unfamiliar venue impacts attendance.

• My essential question was, “Can world-class Hawaiian culture-based education be defined by student voices?” This question was not a literal one, but a guiding question for my school year. And it will continue to guide me and fuel me in the future.

• Felt drained at the conclusion of the event. Pleasantly surprised at some of the feedback. People were genuinely excited and started talking about next year. Huh? Next year? Maybe…


Our graffiti board was the bathroom wall. “What school could be”

10 All-Time Favorite Albums

April 23, 2018

An interesting survey has been circulating on Facebook. “What are your 10 all-time favorite albums?” A fun, but difficult question to answer. Record albums were a part of a very different era. An album was a collection of songs by an artist (at a particular point in time) that took you on a magical journey. The vinyl LP combined with cover art and liner notes was a delightful package of creativity & artistic expression.

I grew my vinyl collection from stores like Tower Records, DJ’s Sound City, House of Music, and Records Hawaiʻi. Here is my feeble (and nostalgic) attempt at a Top 10. (Intentionally omitting “greatest hits” from this list.)

1. Kalapana‘s first album. This was the soundtrack to my high school years. The reason why I picked up the guitar. I wanted to be like Mackey Feary.

2. Boston‘s first album. Music to cruise to. And more than a feeling…

3. Earth, Wind & Fire “All ‘n All” My fave band growing up. “They play so beautiful, don’t you agree?”

4. Climax “Climax Featuring Sonny Geraci” Precious & Few, Life & Breath, played over & over.

5. Journey “Escape” Another one from my high school days. Worked at the Blaisdell concession during their record-breaking sellouts.

6. Police “Zenyatta Mondatta” A different sound. So many good tunes.

7. Stevie Wonder “Songs in the Key of Life” Stevie Wonder is a genius.

8. Michael Jackson “Off the Wall” First heard it while working at Holiday Mart. Every song a hit.

9. Spyro Gyra “Morning Dance” My introduction to jazz music.

10. Chicago “II” The first album I ever bought. Special.

Left out so many fave records from my collection, but a fun time revisiting good memories.

The Climb

April 11, 2018

“Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
It’s the climb”

– – Miley Cyrus

All three elevators in 909 Kapiolani got shut down for a few days. Apparently, a broken sprinkler on the 36th floor flooded the elevator shafts. The Otis Company couldn’t do repair work until flood control crews dried the place out.

That’s a bummer when you live on the 33rd floor. Walking up and down from my parking space on the 4th added up to a 28-floor commute one-way (there is no 13th floor.) That’s half-way up Koko Head…

I felt especially sympathetic for our elderly residents and for those with small children (or large pets.) This unfortunate event even made the local news. Link to news report.

So what did I learn? Well, it took two whole days to finally switch from a briefcase to a backpack. Duh… But more importantly, I realized just how much I really do appreciate living here. From around the 12th floor, your legs start talking to you, “This building sucks.” Around the 24th, “Don’t cha hate it here?” But finally on the 33rd, I pull out a cold beverage and reply, “Nah. This is pretty good. Life is good…”

“I may not know it
But these are the moments that
I’m gonna remember most, yeah
Just gotta keep going
And I, I got to be strong
Just keep pushing on”

– – Miley Cyrus

“Just figure out what’s next.”

March 25, 2018

The Kealaʻula Innovations Institute Cohort 2.0 just returned from a very inspiring R&D trip to the Bay Area. We visited the Stanford, Google, Apple, and a host of innovative K-12 schools from Oakland to Menlo. The purpose of the trip was to glean ideas, inspiration, and resources to bring back and to hopefully transform our campuses.

Naming: Names imply and have parameters that are unintentional, subconscious, and  subatomic. The word “teacher” means something. Schools here call faculty “collaborators.” Grade levels are called “bands” and “stages.” A word makes a world of difference. We do similar things (i.e., SEL,) but they are undefined at our campuses.

Identity: The schools that we visited were very mission-driven. School leaders could draw a picture on a sheet of paper describing exactly who they are and what they do. Everything is aligned.

Our mission is incredibly noble, to preserve a culture, a language, and a people. It is our strength.

Attention to Detail:
Every detail is intentional. Every square inch of space has been analyzed. Every resource has been maximized. (We have a mountain full of  native plants and hiking trails that is considered off-limits.)

It was a dream-come-true to visit the Stanford I pretty much esteem the as the greatest thing since sliced bread. During the visit, I desperately looked for that “magic box” to unlock all of its hidden secrets. I couldn’t find it. Either it is hidden underground, or it doesn’t exist. What I saw were amazing things that we could emulate here at Kamehameha.

I believe that we have amazing potential to do amazing things. To be “world-class.”

My Hope
I noticed that these innovative schools that we visited were all small schools. I hope that we would launch an alternative/innovative school in Kakaʻako. (How many schools own/manage 9 city blocks like we do?)

We can transform our current campuses by revisiting & reimagining everything that we do. It is doable. I am filled with hope. Imua Kamehameha…

South By EDU

March 9, 2018

Blessed to have attended SXSW EDU in Austin, TX. South By was intellectually stimulating. It was about epistemology and world views. You don’t go to South By to learn how to reformat a Powerpoint slide. South By is about changing the world. Here are a few of my takeaways:

Accomplished people here are so passionate about their calling/purpose. Michael Sorrell said that his university is not a “school,” but a “movement.” Their mission is to end poverty. They are changing their community.

Juan Pablo Romero Fuentes wants to create a school in Guatemala that is so engaging that it keeps kids off the streets. He is up against the drug lords. When asked, “How do you account for different student levels?” he replied, “That’s an American thing. We respect everyone as human beings. We will work with every child.”

Then I thought about our mission at Kamehameha. Our mission is just as noble. We are trying to preserve a culture, a language, and a people. How often do I think about our mission when I’m at school? I bet that there is not a moment that goes by when they are not thinking about theirs…

Parallel Universe
I’ve always suspected that there was a “parallel universe” to these conferences. That the “real” conference starts after 6pm. It was definitely confirmed. Casey Agena asked me, “What are you doing tonight?” I replied that I signed up for the opening party. Casey said, “Me too. And I signed up for five more parties. Wanna come?” I said, “Shoots.” Apparently Google, Apple, etc. were all in town and had these meetups. I didn’t see any of it in the conference listings. Casey said that they’re not officially part of SXSW. They’re not “underground” events, but more like “parallel” events.

Casey introduced me to everybody. I got to hang out with David Ross from DC and Emma Peng from Beijing. David created PBL World. He even paid for my Voodoo doughnut. Got back to the hotel with a pocket full of business cards and a bunch of great memories that I can now barely remember.

The Ugly Stepsister
South By EDU might be the best conference that I’ve ever been to (both before and after 6pm.) That being said, it fell far short of my expectations. I was hoping that it would be more like the SXSW Music Festival. High energy, raw, cutting edge, in-your-face, etc., etc. Instead, South By EDU was an improved version of your traditional education conference. It was “hipster,” but not “gangster.” Wish I could stay in Austin for just one more week…

[re]Design Thinking

March 1, 2018

The lobby of Oceanit.

I’ve learned so much this school year, from so many different people. And I’ve learned a lot from Design Thinking guru, Ian Kitajima. He has a different mindset. Now whenever I’m in a meeting, I try to “bring Ian to the party.” I ask myself, what would Ian say?

Here are just two lessons that I’ll mention.

1. Innovation
If you’re redesigning a motorcycle helmet, don’t start with the helmet. You’ll only come up with a better version (i.e., better materials, more aerodynamic, Bose sound-system perhaps.) Instead, start with the rider. This will free your thinking. Find out where he’s going, his habits, his likes & dislikes. Empathy leads to innovation. The result was an airbag system that deployed from a collar.

2. Naming
What you call yourself matters. It effects how you see yourself and how others see you. If you call yourself a “school,” it comes with a set of parameters whether conscious, subconscious, or subatomic (teachers, curriculum, classrooms, etc.) My team at Kamehameha Schools is called Education Technology Services. I believe that the name implies that we are a service provider. But we are more. We are also leaders and innovators. My suggestion would be to drop the word “Services,” and keep “Education Technology.”

I feel like I’ve been given a new lens. I am also better at recognizing opportunities. Mahalo to Ian for helping me to redesign my thinking…

POW! WOW! Hawaiʻi 2018

February 17, 2018


Each February, I look forward to POW! WOW! Hawaiʻi. It’s one of the coolest events here in Kakaʻako. One of the cofounders is a friend who worked at Kamehameha, Kamea Hadar.

After an early lunch at Karen’s Kitchen (baked spaghetti,) I started to explore the neighborhood. Here are some of the new ones…

This one is in the parking lot of the former Fresh Café on Queen Street (currently Waikiki Brewing Company.) POW! WOW! first started at this exact location in 2011.

Here’s a nice backdrop to a Biki Station. This is at the Fitted Hawaiʻi warehouse on Pohukaina Street.

This mural is on Cooke Street near Honolulu BeerWorks. There are also a few new ones across from Mother Waldron Park.

This one is near the entrance of Lana Lane. The artist is from Vietnam. This event truly is a global collaboration.

This one by Tokidoki is in Lana Lane. Lana Lane is where all the action takes place. (Click to enlarge.)

Be sure to visit POW! WOW! headquarters at Lana Lane Studios. You can pick up the passport and some merch here.

Had an amazing time checking out the murals and meeting a few of the artists. Highly recommend visiting. You can also stop by at one of the many cafés in SALT at Our Kakaʻako. Cool vibe there.

This is one event that I will always support…

My Funny Valentine

February 14, 2018

Every year I get a Valentine’s gift for that special someone. Unfortunately, that special someone has always been me. Or perhaps fortunately…?

One year it was luggage (travel.) Another year it was golf clubs. And another year it was a longboard skateboard. Last year it was a regift. It’s become an annual tradition.

This year it’s a tea kettle. Yup, yup!

Blessed to have received an Amazon Gift Card from TED-Ed for collaborating on a TED-Ed lesson on Polynesian Wayfinding.

Let me tell you that it wasn’t so easy to spend this “free money.” I learned that I have pretty much everything that I need. It would be wasteful to upgrade on something that I already have (that isn’t “broke.”)

I decided on a tea kettle. I could use it for Yamamotoyama Green Tea or a Cup O’ Noodles. Maybe even some Starbucks VIA. And it also makes me look competent in the kitchen.

Chee! Can’t wait to see what I get (for that special someone) next year…

Chinatown Honolulu

February 3, 2018

Looking forward to taking our high school’s Mandarin class on a tour of Chinatown in celebration of Chinese New Year. (I was able to take our @KSEdTech Team on a tour back in 2016.)

Background: I started exploring Chinatown after moving to Kakaʻako a few years ago. What started out as exercise (urban hiking) transformed into a deeper sense of “place.” It’s become my Saturday morning ritual. I believe that Chinatown has the best food in Hawaiʻi. Now I want to share my passion for the sights, sounds, (smells,) and energy of this vibrant community…

History 101: Chinese laborers arrive in the 1850s when sugar replaces whaling as the prominent industry.

Chinatown fires: In 1900, there was the bubonic plague. 7000 people were quarantined. 40 controlled fires were set by the Honolulu Fire Department. One got out of control and lasted 17 days. Only a few buildings escaped the fire and still exist today.

WWII: Chinatown becomes a red-light district… ahem.

Statehood: The tourism boom and the opening of Ala Moana Shopping Center lead to the decline of Chinatown.

Revitalization: Chinatown targeted for revitalization in the 70s by Mayor Frank Fasi.

Today: Modern Chinatown flourishes as a hub for art, cuisine, culture, and creativity.

Parking: People have the perception that Chinatown has no parking and that it is dirty. Let me dispel this by saying that there’s a whole lotta parking. In fact, street parking is free on Sundays (however, not all shops are open on Sundays.) The best parking lot is underground, beneath Smith-Beretania Park (next to the old Empress Theater.) As far as being dirty… hmm…

Currency: The best restaurants here are cash-only, have sticky menus, and no one speaks English (not even the customers.)

Public restroom: The only one is on the 2nd floor of Walmart in the Fort Street Mall.

Chinatown is bordered by Bethel & River Street, and by King & Beretania.

Let’s start the tour…

The Hawaiʻi Theatre was built in 1922 by Consolidated Amusement. It closed in the 80s, but was renovated and reopened in the 90s.

Bozo: The sign and marquee were created by sign artist “Bozo” Shigemura. He was the only one in Hawaiʻi at the time who could bend glass for the neon signs. He created the iconic signs for Wo Fat Chop Suey and Club Hubba Hubba.

The ARTS at Marks Garage is more than a parking lot. It is a gallery and creative space for local artists to collaborate.

Here is the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Park at the entrance of Chinatown. Or at least this is what it used to look like before the water feature was filled in due to the homeless in the area. (Sun Yat-sen, the founding father of the Republic of China, was educated here at Punahou and ʻIolani.)

Maunakea Marketplace is an awesome place to explore. There’s a huge food court, souvenir stands, and a great open market. You can even find old Kung Fu movies on VHS. Mickey Café has the best bubble tea drinks in Chinatown. Instead of powdered sugar, they grind fresh sugar cane.

After exiting Maunakea Marketplace, cross Hotel Street to Kekaulike Market. Here you can get a Hamachi Poke Bowl from Maguro Bros. Amazing stuff! Along Kekaulike Mall, you’ll find the Ying Leong Look Funn Factory.

Cross King Street to Oʻahu Market, the oldest market in Chinatown. You can find the freshest meats, produce, and unusual things there. I saw hanging char siu, roast duck, live crab, beef tongue, pig heads, dragon fruit, and unrecognizable organ meats. Fong’s Meat Market has the best roast pork in Chinatown.

Chinatown is a great place to try a new cuisine, buy produce, and take pics.

Chinatown has awesome sweets and desserts. The Sing Cheong Yuan Bakery on Maunakea is a landmark. I like the gin dui (black sugar) & mooncakes, and I always go home with a bag of something…

The Chinese Cultural Plaza, built in 1974, is where you’ll find all of the dim sum restaurants. Fook Lam is my favorite. (Locals tend to gravitate toward english names like Legend’s and Empress.) You’ll find the older men playing mahjong on the benches along the river.

Our tour ends here, but read on…

Additional information:

For noodles, my fave place is the Hong Kong Noodle House in the Chinese Cultural Plaza. I usually get the Tossed (stewed) noodle. I ordered this one with pig’s feet. Another great place is Papa’s Café on Hotel, behind the bus stop.

Chinatown has the best pizza in Hawaiʻi. Yes, pizza. Only thing, they’re all in bars. JJ Dolan’s and Bar 35 are renown for their pies.

Chinatown absolutely has the best phở in Hawai’i. No need to go to “Phở Row” on River Street. My fave shops are Saigon Vietnamese Cuisine on King Street and Huang Lan in the Chinese Cultural Plaza. Pictured above is Pho My Lan (Rice Paper) which recently closed.

Desserts! Wing’s Ice Cream has homemade flavors. This one is Raspberry with dark chocolate chip. Of course, Lee’s Bakery has the most amazing custard pies.

It’s comforting to know that there are still places that I remember from my childhood. Char Hung Sut still has my favorite manapua & pork hash. Their best item is their pepeiao.

I especially appreciate the traditional ethnic foods in Chinatown. This is the Bún bò Huế from Kim An Vietnamese Restaurant. It comes with blood cake and pig’s trotters. This is my fave bowl of soup noodle in all of Chinatown.

This is dim sum from Happy Garden (made famous by Andrew Zimmern.) The chicken feet are on the way….

Mei Sum is another good place for dim sum. A good “contemporary Chinese” restaurant is Little Village Noodle House on Smith Street.

Chinatown also has the coolest, trendiest places. The Pig & the Lady is one of my fave restaurants. I also believe that it is the “most important” restaurant in Chinatown. Love the Bánh mì sandwiches with the incredible, crunchy bread. Try the watermelon soda.

Lucky Belly is another fave. I enjoy the Bao sandwiches (pork buns) and ramen here. The co-owner is a KS graduate. They also opened Livestock Tavern across the street.

Chinatown also has a great skateboard park, antique shops, boutiques, tattoo parlors, and tons of lei stands. Chinatown is where the creatives & makers set up shop.

Festivals: The Chinese New Year Street Festival & Parade is THE event of the year. Thousands gather for this amazing celebration. Chinese New Year will be on February 16, 2018. (This year’s festival, scheduled for Saturday, February 10th has been canceled.) Chinatown also hosts First Fridays, art events, and other block parties.

Definitely my kinda place. Find me in Chinatown.


Had a blast giving our Mandarin class a tour of Chinatown. Chinese Opera, dim sum, and a whole lotta fun…


January 15, 2018

On Saturday, January 13th, nearly everyone in Hawaiʻi received this text message. What a terrible, horrible mistake. And now everyone in Hawaiʻi has a story…

We were getting ready for a half-day of professional development at Island Pacific Academy in Kapolei. It was a little after 8am when all the phones went off. We were in shock. My initial reaction was that it was a hack. School leaders quickly ushered all of the teachers into a hallway. Everyone started texting their families. I couldn’t find anything on social media.

I stepped outside and looked up at the sky. What a gorgeous morning. I said a prayer. Then slowly, the reality of the situation began to sink in. I could hear the sirens. From initial disbelief, awful thoughts began to creep in. What a horrible feeling. My common sense (or perhaps my lack of processing the situation at hand) was telling me that this was not real. And yet, what if this is it? What if?

At around 8:30, we received word through social media that it was indeed a false alarm. It felt like forever. The crowd of teachers remained very calm throughout the ordeal. We went on with our event without a glitch. I had to regain my focus to emcee the event and deliver the opening remarks. The event was a success, and we celebrated as a team at lunch.

But this was in fact a “drill” for me. What did I learn? For a split second, I did entertain the thought that this was the end. I was calm. Still, it was a sickening feeling. I thought I would be more at peace, because of my faith. I now have a deeper appreciation for life and all the people I love. Life is a blessing. Life is also an opportunity to make a difference. Considering this a second chance.


My Top 10 Fave YouTubers

January 11, 2018

Increasingly, I find myself watching YouTube more than TV. There’s a lotta good content out there. You can choose what you want to see, when you want to see it. The old adage “There’s nothing good on TV,” definitely does not apply to YouTube. I am especially interested in travel vlogs. Here are my Top 10 fave YouTubers. (Channel descriptions are in quotes.)

10. The Food Ranger is a YouTuber who has amazing adventures around the world. He has great rapport with everyone he meets. A really good guy. “My name is Trevor James and I live to eat and travel. I live for street food and local food, and I’m traveling to taste it. I’m a hungry traveler that’s currently living abroad in Chengdu, Sichuan China, eating as much delicious food as I can.”

9. CaseyNeistat is a creative genius, storyteller, and movie maker. I am awed by the way he creates. “Hi, I live in New York City and love YouTube.”

8. Travel With My Dear is not necessarily a travel vlog (with an onscreen personality,) but rather a travel channel with visually stunning videos. This channel is an inspiration to me, because most of the vids were filmed with a smartphone. “We live to travel the world, capture beautiful moments on film and choreographing each frame to the music.”

7. vagabrothers are two brothers who explore culture and the amazing aspects of travel. “We’re Alex and Marko. We LIVE to TRAVEL. Our journey of CULTURAL and CULINARY DISCOVERY takes us to some of the MOST INTERESTING PLACES in the WORLD. Stay curious, keep exploring, and we will see you on the road!”

6. uelshannelle is a traveling couple from Australia. They have a very pleasant and refreshing onscreen personality. “We are Uel & Shannelle from Sydney! You may have seen us on such shows as My Kitchen Rules. We love Jesus, cooking, travel, photography & FOOD! Join our adventures as we travel the world and show you a glimpse of what WE see!”

5. arakakizemiTV is a personal favorite. Always cool to see what your friends are up to. “These videos are produced to showcase the various projects and extracurricular activities of the students of the Osaka Gakuin University, especially the students of the Faculty of Business Administration, Department of Hospitality Business Administration.”

4. gabebondoc was an unknown singer-songwriter who became a YouTube sensation. It’s what I like best about YouTube. So organic. “Guitarist/Singer/Songwriter/Dad”

3. Wong Fu Productions of course. What kinda asian would I be if this weren’t on my list? “Short films, sketches, and vlogs! We like to tell stories, whether they’re funny, sad, or thoughtful. As emerging artists and filmmakers, we hope to continue to improve our craft, grow as a company, and reach people with our work.”

2. Strictly Dumpling is Mike Chen’s foodie vlog. Engaging personality and amazing food. “I LOVE FOOD!!!! So you have just entered my food universe where I will show you all the best places to eat and some awesome recipes!!!”

1. Mark Wiens has been a long-time favorite. I first found his channel when I was preparing for my missions trip to Thailand. This guy is passionate about food & travel. And, he has his trademark reaction/expression when eating something delicious. “Food is the reason you should travel, and on my channel you’ll watch videos that feature incredibly delicious food and travel tips. After graduating from university, I decided to travel for food. Eventually I ended up in Thailand, where I met my wife. My wife and I are now based in Bangkok, Thailand, but we travel frequently to find delicious food.”

Hope to appear on my own Top 10 someday…

New Year’s Resolution [Re]imagined

January 1, 2018

Background: After reposting the same New Year’s Resolution from 2008-2012 without success,  I had to rethink it. I replaced my resolution with a bucket list in 2013. I went from incremental goals (i.e. lose 10 pounds) to life-changing goals.

Preface: At 12:05am on January 1st, 2013, I was lying face down in a cul-de-sac in Mililani Mauka after a fireworks accident (don’t ask.) I was thinking, sheesh, can 2013 be over with already? Unlikely as it seemed then, I was blessed to meet up with my Compassion sponsored child in the Philippines and walk across the Great Wall of China by year’s end. All things are possible.

This is my current bucket list. There’s a whole lotta travel, which is my passion.

Life Goals:

• Seek after God’s heart
• Go snowboarding
• Appear in a TV commercial
• Create a work of art
• Attend a Red Sox vs. Yankees game
• Learn to cook a fancy gourmet dish
• Get a tattoo
• Own my dream car, a vintage VW bus
• Buy a suit (and actually wear it)

School Goals:

• Tie a kihei
• Attend SXSW EDU

Ministry Goals:

• Go on a missions trip to Japan

Travel Goals:

• Visit Hiroshima & Miyajima Island
• Visit Hong Kong
• Visit Hokkaido
• Eat phở in Vietnam
• Visit London
• Visit Prague in the Czech Republic
• Go to Oktoberfest in Germany
• Travel to Istanbul
• Travel to Marrakech
• Travel to Angkor Wat in Cambodia

• See the Taj Mahal
• Witness the Aurora Borealis
• Attend a World Cup Soccer match

Completed Goals:

√ Visit my sponsored child in the Philippines
√ Revisit New York City
√ Travel to Machu Picchu
√ Walk across the Great Wall of China
√ Visit Barcelona
√ Visit Rome
√ Hold up the Leaning Tower of Pisa
√ Visit Australia
√ Visit Aotearoa (NZ)
√ Learn to skateboard
√ Take a solo (YOLO) trip to Paris
√ Visit my “homeland” of Okinawa
√ Find the best bowl of ramen in Hawaiʻi
√ Launch a homeless outreach ministry in Chinatown
√ Run a TEDxYouth event at school
√ Play guitar in a café
√ Publish a TED-Ed lesson
√ Own a condo near Ala Moana Beach (lifelong dream)

Amazing memories! I am also thankful that I have been blessed with things that I never even dreamed of.

Occasionally, I will open up my Moleskine and have a [re]imagine sesh. I believe that there is intentionality in writing things down. Continuing to work on my life goals, school goals, ministry goals, and travel goals.

Hope your bucket list is going well. Dream big!
Happy 2018! Hau`oli Makahiki Hou & God Bless!

Christmas Card & Year-in-Review

December 24, 2017

Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas! Here’s my 2017 card and customary year-in-review blurb. Had an awesome year. Hope yours was too…

Participated in Walk With Compassion at Ala Moana Beach Park with Shirlene and Joan. This charity event raises funds to rescue families out of poverty. Mahalo to all of my friends for donating!

Blessed to chaperone the Kamehameha Schools Children’s Chorus trip to Aotearoa (NZ) during Spring Break. It was an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience. Great kids and great “chappies.” Also got to back up the choir on guitar at Hoʻolauleʻa. Humbled & grateful…

Revive (homeless outreach ministry) is still going strong. Iʻm blessed and inspired by the amazing servants on our team. We now go to Crane Park on Sundays following the 11am service. Come join us.

We did it! On May 6th, our TED-Ed Club held a very successful Student Talks event at SALT @ Our Kakaʻko. It was followed by a CPR clinic by our Lifesavers Club. #ProudAdvisorStatus

Our @KSEdTech “dream team” attended the Personalized Learning Summit by Education Elements in San Fran. Good learning, good people, and good food!

The homecoming for the Hōkūleʻa voyaging canoe was a chicken-skin moment. It celebrated the end of the 3-year Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage. Met up with friends at Magic Island at 6am. #Historic

Gale and I attended our very first Tamayose Family Reunion on Kauaʻi island. We had the absolute best time making new memories with our fam. Most heartwarming experience of the year!

Our TED-Ed Innovative Educators cohort came to an official closing. #OnlyTheBeginning. I learned so much this year and developed such great friendships from around the world. Mahalo to TED-Ed for the amazing ride!
TED-Ed Innovation Project on community engagement.
• TED-Ed Animated Lesson on Polynesian Wayfinding.

Merry Christmas to all!

“Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11

Ugly Christmas Sweater?

December 5, 2017

In Hawaiʻi? Not so much. So I rock the not-so-ugly Christmas aloha shirt. Reyn Spooner makes them. I think they’re pretty cool.

Last year, they dropped a Moana design commemorating the movie’s release. I snatched one right away. And after doing a little research on the brand, I discovered that they’ve been issuing a new Christmas Spooner each year under the Mele Kalikimaka label since 1983. (You may be able to find some of their older releases at Bailey’s Antiques and Aloha Shirts on Kapahulu Ave.)

The two that I have are from 2013. Now how many Christmas aloha shirts do you really need? I do think you need at least two, in case you have back-to-back Christmas parties.

They’re a lotta fun. Perfect for the party, church, or checking out Honolulu City Lights. Great office attire for the month of December. Always a conversation starter.

The quality (and designs) of the Spooner cloth makes these shirts timeless. Some people have amassed collections. The Christmas Spooner has become a Hawaiian Christmas tradition.

No sweater? No sweat. You can go rockin’ around the Christmas tree rocking a Christmas Spooner…

Happy Thanksgiving & Happy ThanksLiving

November 22, 2017

So blessed. And I hope to be a blessing…
Here are the Top 10 things that I am thankful for in 2017:

1. Jesus.
2. I am thankful for my family and friends. I do not deserve them.
3. I am thankful for my health. I just need to get in shape. Pears do not count….
4. I attend a wonderful church, Inspire Honolulu. Consider yourself invited.
5. I am blessed to be at the Kamehameha Schools with an amazing team. I laugh everyday.
6. I live in an awesome place. #OurKakaako
7. I am blessed to sponsor a child in the Philippines. It’s the most important thing that I do.
8. TED-Ed. Technologies will come and go. Great ideas never go out of style….
9. Travel. This is my passion. Aotearoa and San Fran in 2017. Japan or Korea next year.
10. Life.

“Rejoice always,  pray without ceasing,  in everything give thanks….”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

“Hot Bowl of Goodness”

November 14, 2017

Every Saturday morning, I walk over to Chinatown from my apartment in Kakaʻako. I like to think of it as exercise (“urban hiking.”) But really, it’s to eat. It’s become a regular, weekly ritual for me. Usually, I’ll order up some type of noodle soup. My term of endearment is “hot bowl of goodness.” Best way to describe it, and best way to start the weekend! So comforting…

You’d expect to find a lotta Chinese restaurants in Chinatown, but outside of the Cultural Plaza, most are Vietnamese. Three of my fave Vietnamese shops are all in a row at the end of King Street near River Street. I get phở from Saigon Vietnamese Cuisine, bún riêu (crab-tomato soup) from Anh Hong, and bún bò Huế (spicy beef soup) from Kim An.

When craving dumpling noodle soup, I head over to Hong Kong Noodle House on the river side of the Cultural Plaza. So good! A couple of doors down you can get Taiwanese Spicy Beef Noodle Soup from KC Kitchen. A great place on Maunakea Street is Lam’s Kitchen. There you can get a bowl of Beef Flank w/ Tendon & Look Fun Noodle Soup. All good and all affordable.

I am a ramen fanatic, but there is no ramen in Chinatown with the exception of Lucky Belly. The Belly Bowl there is really good. Marukame Udon in the Fort Street Mall is super popular. Very inexpensive and tasty. Only thing is that the broth comes out luke warm. Gotta have it hot.

At Papa’s Café on Hotel Street, you can get Malaysian laksa. Order the combination of brisket & wonton. There is much variety in Chinatown, from pulled noodles to glass noodles, topped with pig’s feet to duck leg to short ribs. Mmm, so ono.

You’ll find me in Chinatown on Saturdays. Look for the guy sitting near the window wearing a baseball cap, stirring chili oil in anticipation of the “hot bowl of goodness” to come…

TED-Ed Lesson on Polynesian Wayfinding

October 26, 2017

Excited that it got published! I was blessed to be a part of the TED-Ed Innovative Educators cohort this past school year. Having met the animators at TED HQ in New York, I saw the potential and reach of this platform. At the time, the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage was taking place and Disney’s Moana was all the rage. The timing was right.

This lesson was a collaboration with Hōkūleʻa crew member Shantell De Silva. We worked on the script with a team from TED-Ed (a writer, a voice actor, and an animator.) The entire process took about 6 months.

I am pleased (and relieved) that the TED-Ed lesson has been well-received. It was an opportunity to introduce a Hawaiian culture-based lesson to the world. I am proud that this lesson shared ʻōlelo and connected a global community of learners to the Hōkūleʻa. My hope is that the lesson will help to tell the story of the indigenous wisdom and “moonshot” achievements of our ancestors.

Here is the link to the full lesson.

Travel Goals Update

October 2, 2017

Blessed to have traveled to a bunch of cool places in the past few years. Now thoughtfully planning my next trip with very limited resources…

So far, I’ve been blessed to have visited Italy (Rome, Florence,) Spain (Madrid, Barcelona,) and France (Paris.)

Also blessed to have visited Peru (Machu Picchu and the Amazon,) as well as Australia (Melbourne) and New Zealand (Auckland.)

In Asia, I was able to visit China (Beijing,) Japan (Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto,) Okinawa, Thailand (Bangkok and Mae Sot,) and the Philippines (Makati.)

Now I am prioritizing my travel bucket list. My remaining travel goals include Marrakesh, Istanbul, Vietnam, and Hong Kong. Amazing destinations! But now I am starting to consider places that have a deeper personal connection.

I am considering Hiroshima, Japan for my next trip. My dad’s side is Okinawa. My mom’s side is Hiroshima. Never been…

Hopefully, things will fall into place. Looking forward to the next adventure…

TED-Ed Innovation Project

September 26, 2017

Our TED-Ed Innovative Educator cohort officially ended this month. Mahalo to TED-Ed for the opportunity and amazing ride! Mahalo to my TIE Cohort 3 fam for the inspiration and support. Here is a link to my TED-Ed Innovation Project.