Editor’s Page: Of Mochi and Mentors

Caring counts.
Robbie Dingeman

Our March issue is filled cover-to-cover with examples of people who make a difference through their passion for their work. People who make waves in our community. The magazine has a history of recognizing these change-makers: as Islanders of the Year. The concept began in 1988 and has evolved over the years to call attention to a fascinating group of individuals, some more controversial than others.


Our cover story is about the seven who helped shape Hawai‘i—and the world’s view of the Islands—in 2016 and marks the 20th time the magazine has named Islanders of the Year. As usual, it’s a diverse mix of people with very different approaches to life. This year, the group consists of: world-circling navigators, a disease-detecting doctor, a developer building affordable housing, a fashion designer, a world-champion surfer, an author and an actor.


What do they have in common? A mix of dedication to craft, the courage to chart their own courses, to not settle for what’s been done before.


What do they have in common? Dedication to craft, the courage to chart their own courses, to not settle.


Also this month, writer Mari Taketa delves into the world of mochi, just in time for Girls’ Day. The tradition of celebrating on the third day of the third month traces historic roots to Japan, but Mari shows us that Honolulu might just be able to claim more eclectic versions of this sweet, squishy snack than anywhere else.


One of my favorites is the old-school family-run Nisshodo Candy Shop, which handcrafts traditional mochi, along with local specialty chichi dango—the milky pink-and-white treat that comes wrapped in a twist of paper. The business is nearing its 100th birthday and has survived, not because of its warehouse storefront, or speakeasylike counter service, but because of a commitment to quality you can count on each time you visit.


With this issue, we debut a new monthly page celebrating anniversaries of businesses in our community. We know that doing business anywhere can be daunting, especially on an island. That’s why we’re saluting those marking milestones. This month, those honored include the Royal Hawaiian Hotel (90), UH Mānoa (110) and Murphy’s Bar & Grill (the youngster at 30). Know another anniversary? Email us at letters@honolulumagazine.com.


Speaking of commemoration, I’m sad to say that a mentor of mine died early this year: Wally Zimmermann was the consummate TV news guy. He was smart, a good writer with savvy news sense, and generous with his time, talent and humor. He cared about people and could always find a reason to smile, even when explaining a better way to get the job done. In Honolulu, he served as news director at KHON and KITV, and on the Mainland at WLUK in Green Bay, Wisconsin and WDIV in Detroit, Michigan.

  Wally Zimmerman

Photo: Courtesy of Honolulu Star-Advertiser


While he might not have been well-known outside of the news business, he made a big impact on our community because he helped train and shape generations of TV news teams, and his influence continued while he worked in public relations. Wally showed that caring about the job and the people went hand in hand. He saw potential in so many, hiring people because he thought they could do the job, regardless of conventional TV wisdom. Our lives and our community are better because of him.


Thanks to him and to all the mentors out there.


Thoughts about the magazine? Please email me at robbied@honolulumagazine.com.