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43 Things Every Local Must Do


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What place other than Hawaii could come up with both the shaka sign and surfing? We definitely have our own unique ways of doings things, of seeing the world. Our lives are a mixed plate of cultures, traditions, habits and languages, and are better for it. “Local” has as many definitions as there are people in Hawaii. Local isn’t just how we think. It’s what we do. In that spirit, here are 43 things you gotta do if you’re gonna call yourself local.




Have a Sunday Long’s routine.

Say hi to your neighbors, catch up on gossip, score deals with your coupon book and scoop the faster check-out at the cosmetic or photo departments.






Own Pidgin to Da Max.

Since 1981, this book and its sequels have been touchstones of local culture, so much so that we couldn’t think of a better way to illustrate this article than to hire Douglas Simonson, the creator and illustrator of the series, for this article. Publisher Bess Press is releasing new e-book editions and has offered HONOLULU Magazine readers a special deal—order from besspress.com and get 40 percent off any book from the Pidgin series, in addition to any other Bess Press and Editions Limited titles, during the month of April by entering “HonMag” at checkout. Eh, tanks, brah!



Jam on your ukulele.

You do have an ukulele, right? If you’re an old-time kamaaina, chances are this was the first instrument you learned to play. Ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro started playing when he was 4 years old.

Photo: Courtesy Daniel Ho

We’re not asking you to be another Jake. But, as a local, you should at least be able to play a couple of well-known Hawaiian compositions. Lessons are available in many forms, including classes taught by renowned ukulele teacher Roy Sakuma. Learning to play is fun and easy, although mastering the instrument takes years of practice.

If you’re interested in taking a class from Sakuma, call 732-3739. Better yet, go to roysakuma.net/lessons/onlineukulelelessons, and see if you can strum along to “Surf” by the Kaau Crater Boys. The song uses just a few basic chords. Get jammin’!


Photo: David Croxford



Never travel, even interisland, without bringing back omiyage!

Coming back from Maui,  manju from Sam Sato’s is a guaranteed pleaser. From Big Island, it’s mochi from Two Ladies Kitchen. From Kauai, Hamura Saimin offers lilikoi chiffon pies, frozen to survive the trip back to Oahu. From Molokai—deer jerky.



Kick off your shoes.

Everyone knows you take off your shoes before entering the house. But you can do better than the old pile of shoes and slippahs on the doormat. A popular solution is a getabako, also known as “shoe tansu,” placed at the entryway of the home. Sliding panels open to reveal shelves for easy storage. You don’t need to get too fancy. Small bookshelves will work just fine. But if you want the high-end stuff, search your favorite antique furniture store or contact Jtansu, a Japanese furniture company based in Summerland, Calif. Jtansu specializes in high-quality period pieces from Asia. These getabako aren’t cheap—the ones we saw ranged from $950 and up—but they do make a statement. Go to jtansu.com and see for yourself.


Have a hibachi (and know how to use it.)

Photo: Michael Keany

Update your Pidgin.

Da ting fo remembah about Pidgin? Stay always changing. Evoluting. No believe us? Jus ask Lee Tonouchi, da main Pidgin expert in da state. Known as “Da Pidgin Guerrilla,” Tonouchi even came out wit da book, Da Kine Dictionary, dat you can buy at any bookstore or whatevah.

“In da olden days, used to have mo Hawaiian words in da Pidgin,” Tonouchi wen tell us. “Nowadays, I tink get more hip-hop jargon in Pidgin. Some peepo ask, ‘Wat happens if it get to da point weah it’s no longah Pidgin becuz get too much hip-hop?’ But to me, Pidgin always wen incorporate all dese other languages into it, and we still call it Pidgin, right? So why would hip-hop be any different?”
Hea is tree examples of wat da bruddah wen mean:
Chillaxin’. “Chill” and “relax” put toggedah.
Da bomb. It means “da best.”
Irkatated. To be “irked” and “irritated” at da same time.


Brunch at Waioli Tea Room & Bakery.

Since 1922, eating here has been one of those experiences that makes Manoa Manoa. Take an umbrella. 2950 Manoa Road, (888) 340-8917.

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Honolulu Magazine July 2020
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