This article is a part of series of articles about my 2017 trip to Hawaii. Please see the table of contents that contains links to other chapters.
For our first trip to Hawaii, I think we got a lot done in only a week’s time without pushing ourselves too hard. It was a good sampler of what Oahu has to offer, and we learned a great deal about culture, language, and some intangible things.
Do I want to return to Hawaii? Since I was brought up only a few minutes from the beach I ironically don’t find beach activities particularly thrilling. Despite their natural beauty, I was not impressed by Hawaii’s beaches enough to want to go back just for those. But there is surely many more places of natural beauty, like waterfalls and coral reefs, that I’d like to explore someday when our son is a little older. But I don’t think Hawaii is the easiest or best place to travel for people with young children, one reason being is there seems to be less activities for children, at least compared to some other places we have went. To be fair, there was a pretty large children’s museum we enjoyed for a few hours (Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center), but there doesn’t seem to be many Disney-like theme parks on the Oahu island (there was one water park in west Oahu but I think it was under construction).
For sure, Hawaii is as close as you can get to “a Japan away fromJapan”, but no matter how you look at it, it’s not the real thing (nor is it, as U2 says, “even better than the real thing”). Many of the beautiful things about Japan just aren’t there in Hawaii, despite a few similarities here and there. For example, while there is natural hot springs, there is nothing close to the elaborate onsen facilities you can find all over Japan (I confirmed this with Haruko the tour guide). Honolulu is definitely no Tokyo. I guess you could call this obvious, but if you want to learn about Japan and Japanese culture, the land of the rising sun is still number one.
Having said that, if you are a citizen of the US, I’d imagine it would be simpler to stay in Hawaii for a longer period of time, whereas for Japan you have limits to how long you can stay depending on what visa you can acquire. So for some people, Hawaii may an easier place to have longer-term access to a larger group of people that speak Japanese natively.
In an ironic twist, when we checked out of our hotel they finally gave us each a Lei necklace made from stringing together tiny shells. We had been disappointed to not be given anything like that when we first arrived (though I vaguely remember seeing an advertisement of a free class to make them). But better late than never, I guess.