Who Cares?

September 16th, 2014

Travels. It's been a big part of my life the past few years. My luggage has been to more places than most can imagine. While it's taken it's toll, there are moments that help to to gain a bearing on who I am and why I breathe. Each year, I dedicate a post to the children of the Holy Family Home in Osaka. They are part of the longest standing relationship the US Army has with a post conflict area. Founded by Sgt Major Hugh O'Reilly of Schofield Barracks, this bridge of love continues.

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Token food post before I get all mushy. Really good sushi while there and possibly the BEST ramen I've ever had in Japan. I fought with myself all trip long to contain my appetite. Life is so unfair.....

To my delight, I could continue to live the love that I have for these children after our visit to Osaka. On our touchdown in Hawaii, it was our turn to host the visiting ones from the home. I serve on the board of Peace Bridge, a non profit that works in conjunction with the Wolfhounds of Schofield Barracks.

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One of the blessings in my life is Neal Arakaki and family at Menehune Mac. They have been supporting my involvement with the children for a number of years. Neal and ohana take each group on a private tour of their factory and everyone gets to make their own box of chocolates!

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We share this day with Menehune Mac and to be honest, I think Neal guys steal our thunder, ha ha. The place is filled with the magical aroma of chocolate and all its goodness. There are samples galore of all their offerings. The kids made sure the samples were not neglected.....

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Then it was our turn as they took a tour of our place, gettting to see how Hawaiian ukuleles are made by hand. After the tour, we surprised each of them with an ukulele of their own, just a keepsake of their trip to Hawaii.

I've visited the home a number of times and still cannot comprehend how orphanages exist in this modern times. As a parent, I also wonder how it's possible to give up your child. I pass no judgement, but I battle within. It's something I cannot come to terms with.

One of my persisting questions comes up each time I see the children:

"Who will love these children? Who cares about them?"

The answer is always the same:

"That's why I made you...."

Ukulele is my day job, but it does not define me. What ukulele has done, is to allow me to see this world and know what I want to do. When I lose focus from time to time, I get perspective from 130 voices in Japan.

Osaka Aug 2014

September 1st, 2014

Wow, as I typed in the year of this post, it's amazing to see that we've made it all the way to 2014. Never imagined to live in the days of space movie dates. No flying cars quite yet, but we have phones of the future, right? I digress, on to my post.

Most of my travels are not as glamorous as most assume. They are mainly based in getting some kind of work done. Every now and then, there are moments that stand out, and fill my trip with a lot of joy. It can be little things, or a little bigger as well.

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Everyday life is a little different in Japan. There's the hustle and bustle that's a change of pace from Hawaii, but the Japanese sprinkle in some neat stuff to break up all the action. Malls are really nice, they're everywhere, ranging from small to big. Every now and then, there are attractions in the halls between subway sections. This time, children games were the theme.

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Canned goods? Yes. Yakitori in a can, "can" do, ha ha.

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Anyone looking for their dosage of 2000 - 3000% of their daily recommended sodium value can always shop on the Great Wall of Ramen. I thought this was impressive!

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After we completed our training sessions in Tokyo, we jumped on the train to head to Osaka. This meant a 3 hour train ride and of course, train food. Unlike the US hamburger and hot dog fare, Japan does things....Japanese! I had a delicious katsu bento and as if that wasn't enough, I also got ten-musu, aka shrimp musubi.

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We visited two of our dealers there, Miki Gakki, and one of our oldest accounts in Osaka, Ohana Ukulele.

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Then it was reunion time! The children of Holy Family Home is always a big motivation for me to ride that train for such a long trip. Here are the ones that visited on a special trip this year. They are ones that missed the annual summer visit for some reason or another.

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We spent time with a lot of them, singing and sharing songs. (I think I need to learn new songs already)

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After a long day of travel and hearts filled with joy, it was time to unwind. I was a little apprehensive at first, but the natural spring water in my hotel does wonders for the body. There's a valve that turns that water on instead of tap. The color, I am told, is because it's rich in minerals. (It's not dirty as I thought)

More to come from Japan and as we head home to more things with kids.