Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Shaved Ice Machine

I like the unusual event. The unexpected thing to occur, don’t you?

In Paia on Maui for many years you would not find a shaved ice Machine. Maybe even today you might not. I have no idea about the situation today. I only know about the situation in the mid 60’s and early 70’s. I was going to college at Mauna Olu in upper Paia and dormed, if that’s a word, at the Men’s dorm near the college. I did my laundry in Paia town which was a one street road that tee’d into another road. You could pretty much cover the entire town walking in 30 minutes if you dilly dallied which is pretty much what you were left with while your cloths was either washing or drying. That is why I know that there was not a shaved ice machine in Paia. If I had seen one, I probably would have got one.

I know why there was not a shaved ice machine in Paia.

Shindaiku machi,
Nagasaki, Japan

Shindaiku machi is a shopping arcade.

Natalia and I lived on Nishiyama Street in Nagasaki, Japan for three years. We lived there as Natalia was getting her degree in Architecture. Natalia is Russian. The story of why a Russian is getting a degree in Architecture in Japan is another story.

The Shaved Ice Machine? Oh yes, Well, what? You think we just appeared one day in Japan? Like dropped out of the sky?

It was a desire of Natalia’s to study Architecture in Japan.

She knew that I would never have gone to Japan on my own. Growing up in Hawaii and having many Japanese friends and acquaintances, I had got the idea that it was not a good idea. Too expensive and you will never make any friends. So, when she asked me if we could go, I of course said, Of course!

Okay, so now you know how we got there. Yes, the Shaved Ice Machine. Okay.

To make a long story short, I saw it in the corner of a shop. The Shaved Ice Machine. Just kind of shoved into a corner. It looked like it was stored there. I saw it at a glance. I was riding my bike through Shindaiku Market place and whoa, what was that? A Shaved Ice Machine? I stopped. Turned around and yes, there it was. It is not that I have such an affection for shaved ice. But if you from a part of the world that has such a thing and everything here is different, a Shaved Ice machine would get your attention. As a kid I eat shaved ice at little league baseball games on Saturdays in Kailua Oahu. The 4th of July! That sort of thing.

I glanced around inside the shop. They sold teas. The Shaved Ice machine was obviously not in use. But it was covered in plastic which meant that it was just in storage.

Well, I didn’t think too much about it. Shindaiku was the place to shop for us. Convienant, cheap, good and friendly. As I went almost daily through Shindaiku to shop, I would see it there in the shop in the corner.

Time went by. Japanese holidays went by. Seasons went by. Then one day as I went by this shop the Shaved Ice Machine was out in front of the shop. A young Japanese girl was washing and cleaning it. I immediately stopped and turned around and went back. The young Japanese girl stopped and bowed and said ‘Hello’. I said ‘Hello. And as our eyes where connected, I said, ‘Do you speak English?’. She smiled shyly and said, ‘A little,’
I said, ‘my name Robert, what is your name?’
‘My name is Emiko.’
‘Is this your shop, Emiko?’
Bowing, ‘Hai’.
“I am curious about this shaved ice machine. Is it yours?”
“It is my grandfathers. He bought it and brought it here from Hawaii.”
“Hawaii. I am from Hawaii. Where in Hawaii did he by it?”
“On Maui. He worked for many years on plantation near Paia on Maui. He bought it and brought it here. We use it to make shaved ice for Golden Week and during the swimming season.”
“Really. I lived in Paia and went to college there.”
“Oh, how interesting”, Emiko said. “Now you and the shaved ice machine are in Nagasaki, Japan.”
I laughed. “Yes!”

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