Saturday, April 30, 2016

Zen Temple

The Rinzai Zen Mission is located in an unexpected place. Drive into the Baldwin Beach parking lot, see the lifeguard station, turn right in the parking lot towards Paia, pass the bathroom building and the second parking lot and whoa! Surprise! There’s a zen temple at the beach. It looks dignified and mysterious. One wonders what it’s doing here, but since it’s a zen temple, it might ask you same thing. 

There is a zen temple to the right, not shown in this photo.
Zen Buddhism is the religion known for infamous koans (teaching parables or questions) like:
What is the sound of one hand clapping?
If you meet the Buddha, kill him!

These are questions or stories designed to provoke and challenge one’s assumptions and to understand one’s true nature.

The Rinzai Zen Mission is based on the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism, which particularly values koans, and is considered more challenging than Soto Buddhism. In Japan, there is a saying, “Rinzai for the shogun (Japanese warriors), Soto for the peasants.”

Rinzai Zen Mission main hall.

The Rinzai Zen Mission is Okinawan, and was established in 1932. Okinawa is an island, 400 miles south of Japan, but is part of Japan. In a similar way, Hawaii is 2500 miles from the continental US but considered part of the US. It is the only Rinzai zen temple from the Okinawan immigration period in the US. In the 1960s, there was a tsunami that hit Maui and a marker on the grounds that shows how high the water reached. In 1987, a fire burned down the mission and it was rebuilt. 

Today, the zen temple serves as an active temple for Okinawans on Maui, hosts community events like Japanese tea ceremonies, and the hall can be rented for private events. 

Photos of a Japanese tea ceremony I attended here.
More Information:
Website: (Great website too!)


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Friday, April 29, 2016

YMCA Camp Keanae

The YMCA Camp in Keanae is located on the beautiful and rocky north coast of Maui, along the Road to Hana. Keanae is like the “Halfway to Hana” point, when you know you’re almost in Hana, and just have another 30 or so one-lane bridges to cross and maybe 200 (or 300?) S-curves and switchbacks ahead. Keanae is roughly pronounced, “Kay – en – aye” like saying quickly “Kay and I” went to the store without saying the “d.” 

YMCA Camp Keanae is located right on the Hana Highway, aka the Road to Hana.
It has affordable camping relatively close to Hana, since halfway to Hana is a major accomplishment, with tent spaces and cabins. The YMCA Camp overlooks the ocean and has major facilities: a kitchen and dining area; buildings for yoga, workshops, or art shows; a gymnasium; bathrooms with hot, running water; and open grassy lawns for outdoor yoga and drumming circles.

The YMCA Camp is perfect for accommodating large retreats, gatherings and workshops for everyone from Boy Scouts, meditation groups, youth clubs, business organizations, and nonprofits. It can sleep up to 170 people. The Sufi Group on Maui has an annual fall retreat or “Sufi camp” as they call it. Source Maui held its Soggy Man festival – Maui’s answer to Burning Man – here. This is a great location for a big family reunion.

Overlooking the ocean at YMCA Camp Keanae.
But you don't have to be a large group either. They can accommodate individual campers too, as long as the entire campground is not being occupied by a large party. Camping starts at $25 per person or $40 for a family. If your idea of camping is room service at a hotel, then cabins are also available!

The main downside is that during the winter months, YMCA Camp can be kind of wet and, if you have a lot of people trampling around, muddy.

This is a pic of the "mud people" from the Source Maui 2012 Festival.
Nearby is the Keanae Peninusula, which is gorgeous and worth exploring. There is a banana bread stand and an old church nearby, plus other beautiful spots. 

Phone: 808-248-8355 

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

X-ed Off The Map – Places That No Longer Exist

Here I have a moment of sadness, thinking of how Maui has changed in only the 11 years I have lived here. Places come and go. Old family businesses close because parents retire and the children don’t want to continue, people lose leases, or the rent goes up. Restaurants have a small profit margin to begin with, anywhere in the US, but have higher costs on Maui with costs of importing food, hiring workers who would rather be surfing, and paying for leases.

My list is particularly long for Paia, because Paia is such a small town and I drive through it all the time. I’m sure there are countless places I haven’t included – these are the ones that I remember. 

A few places in Paia that have closed: Fresh Mint vegetarian restaurant, Maui 8th Wonder (now a food truck), Moana Bakery & Cafe (changed owners, became Dazoo, then closed).
Paia General Store
Piero Resta art studio
Konrad's Ship Gallery
Moana Bakery & Café
Fresh Mint
Cakewalk Paia
Hawaii Bound Vacation Rentals
Sutrov Gallery
North Shore Art Therapy
Paia Yoga
Agua de Flora
Anthony’s Coffee
Haz Beans Coffee
8th Wonder Maui Tacos (store closed, but they now have a food truck in Kahului)
Raw – raw food restaurant
Live Wire Café
Green Banana Café
Paia Laundromat
Montana House (an abandoned house on Baldwin Beach) that has been razed
Maui Food Forest – an attempt to create a food forest at Laakea Farm

A falafel food truck that opened in 2012 outside Paia, then closed a few months later before I got around to blogging about them.

Hana Hou
Studio Maui – a major loss
North Shore Café
Spice N Rice
Pauwela Café
Pan by Vasi’s
Vasi’s Catering
Upcountry Fitness

Upcountry Fine Art - art supply shop and gallery owned by a friend
Aloha Cowboy

Kula / Pukalani
Café 808
Get Raw

Laulima Smoothie Stand – The Farm Stand is still open but the bicycle powered smoothie part of the stand closed in 2011 due to state health regulations (no running water), to the protest of many Maui residents.

Blending a smoothie by peddling a bicycle at Laulima Farm Stand. Photo used with permission by artist Kristin Crane. Read Kristin's original blog post about food on Maui here.

Joe’s Bar & Grill
Stella Blues (very sad)
Café Carmen
Paradise Smoothie Stand (I think that was the name of it, closed many years ago)
Serpico’s Pizza
Pita Paradise – but the fancier location is still open
Makena Grill
Kiwi Roadhouse
Awakening in Paradise
Marcos South Side

Buzz’s Wharf
Maalaea Grill
Maalaea Community Garden (many years ago)

Fruit tart at Maui Bake Shop.

Ooka’s – a landmark local grocery store
Cafe Marc Aurel (VERY VERY SAD) My favorite watering hole in Wailuku.This bohemian European style café, closed when INS grabbed Marc Aurel and sent him back to Europe.
Yakiniku Steak House
Swinging Bridges Hike – this is actually still there, but the access is closed with a big gate. : (
Minka Maui – a boutique. I have no idea where Nonie Candelaria went. 
Maui Bake Shop
Gallery Ha - Pat Masumoto's art studio
Maui Booksellers - where Maui poetry slams were held in the early 2000s

Manana Garage
See’s Candy
Ben & Jerry’s
Liberty House
JC Penney
Borders (WAAAH!)
Walden Books
Ruby’s Diner – unexpectedly overnight, before I could blog about them.
Dragon Dragon
Star Market (now Whole Foods) 
Fruit stand that is now where Costco is located. This was the only place in the 80s that stayed open late in the evening, after the grocery stores closed. Apparently, Safeway added evening  hours in the 90s. (This is before my time.)
Finder's Keepers

(My list for Lahaina is weak because I go there rarely.)
David Paul’s Island Grill
Chez Paul 

Countless farmers markets have started and closed. 

So many restaurants closed in 2014, that a friend wrote this Facebook post (only 141 comments - you can click on the comments to read them):


What favorite places have I missed? If you’ve been to Maui, comment below.

Change is not all bad – there are new restaurants, businesses, and stores opening all the time, some to great acclaim and popularity. Just this week, I finally got to try a new restaurant in Paia, called Provisions, at the location of the former Moana Bakery and Café. Nonetheless, a moment of reflection for the past. 

Writing a post like this reminds me of a fundamental principle in my life: Eat Dessert First. (This means: Celebrate the sweetness of life while you have it.) Then after the meal, eat a little more dessert. : )

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016


Wailuku is a mix of high brow and low brow, upscale and shabby, civic and rural, quirky and dignified, gritty and lush. 

A bird's eye view of Wailuku from the tallest building in town.
Located in Central Maui, Wailuku is Maui’s idea of “urban”: a few tall buildings - perhaps the tallest buildings in the county, a few government buildings, an industrial + commercial district, and a pedestrian-friendly downtown which give way to old plantation style houses and storefronts, disgruntled sidewalks, windswept sugar cane fields, the lush green of Iao Valley, family beach parks, and clandestine nature preserves.  

As the county seat of government, Wailuku is the center of political intrigues and contested debates that affect all of Maui County, which includes not just the island of Maui, but also Lanai and Molokai. Sometimes activists will swarm Wailuku holding signs to ask for water meters (after being on a waiting list for 20 years), protest sugar cane burning, or celebrate signature gathering for petitions to change county laws. 
I especially like the Maui Time art on the newspaper stand. This is an alternative, popular weekly paper, based in Wailuku.

Many of us who enjoy the renewed vibrancy of Wailuku town with its Fourth Friday Town Parties, shows at historic Iao Theater, and new wave of businesses, shake our heads and mutter when we think of the slow processes of the County, especially if we are applying for building permits, liquor licenses, or water meters. 

Hawaiian sovereignty activist protesting in downtown Wailuku.

This process can be so arduous and time consuming that some people hire others to present their requests and paperwork to the right channels, in the hopes of an expedited response. Sometimes it works. Other times, while waiting for approval, businesses shut down, land is stuck in escrow purgatory, and people’s hair turns white.

Wailuku exercises a subtle charm that grows with repeated exposure. It’s like a favorite old t-shirt that is getting worn out but is too comfortable to throw away. Even old termite-eaten shacks and rusty roofs have an aesthetic, wabi sabi appeal. 

Wailuku is pronounced "Why - loo-koo" Loo and koo are like the koo in Kool-aid.

One feels part of old Maui here, driving down one-way streets and narrow alleys, eating at local nooks like Tasty Crust known for their hotcakes, Sam Satos for their dry mein and saimin (aka ramen noodles), Takamiya’s, a small mom and pop grocery store in a neighborhood called Happy Valley, which is not always happy to have visitors…, TJ's Market, Home Maid Bakery... the list of local eating spots goes on. 

Tasty Crust and Four Sisters Kitchen are popular places to eat in Wailuku.

Maui history hides in mundane metered parking lots, patrolled by infamous Officer Taguma who once gave a ticket to his mother. The Bailey House Museum, just up the street from the government buildings, is steeped in more Maui history and culture. But when it gets too gritty, there is always escape to beautiful, mysterious Iao Valley or to the Waihee Coastal Dunes.   

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