Two Japanee Bruddahs’ Holiday Shopping Guide

“Budget” may be the theme of this year’s holiday shopping season for many of us. But that just means we may need to be more creative in our gift giving.

Unfortunately, “creative” isn’t often mentioned in the responses I get when I give presents, so I turned to the wonderful Bay Area members of for advice on Hawai’i-related gift ideas.

My college buddy Kim Shinjo recommended Kimochi’s Silver Bells Arts & Crafts Faire on Dec. 13 as one place where you might be able to find island style items. “Mostly cute stuff for women,” said Kim. The fair is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at The Event Center at St. Mary’s Cathedral, 1111 Gough Street, San Francisco.

Kim and Curtis Otaguro both mentioned, the website of Wholesale Unlimited, Inc., where you can order hundreds of items, ranging from kakimochi, arare and senbei to specialty cookies, dried seafood, jerky and candies.

My absolute favorite on is the “hurricane popcorn” – popcorn, furikake, arare and butter. If you haven’t tried it, get some. It’s almost better than spam.

One of Hawaii’s best known local snacks purveyors, Wholesale Unlimited got started by Betty Honma in the 1960s by selling beef jerky wholesale to local bars and markets out of the trunk of her car.

And at about the same time that Betty was driving her goods around Honolulu, Bryan Li’s family was starting their own local snacks shop focusing on crack seed, also known as li hing mui or see mui. Visit to see their gift baskets and other items.

Curtis also recommended Nikkei Traditions in San Jose ( as a stop on your gift hunting trail and the website for Bess Press (, publishers of books like Ann Kondo Corum’s “Hawaii’s 2nd SPAM Cookbook;” the classic “Pidgin to Da Max” by Douglas Simonson, Pat Sasaki and Ken Sakata; and the newly updated version of “Japanese in Hawaii: Okage Sama De” by Dorothy Ochiai Hazama and Jane Okamoto Kemeiji.

Corum’s SPAM cookbook has almost every imaginable recipe for SPAM, including Green Eggs and SPAM Musubi, Easy Cheesy SPAM Crisps, Local-Style SPAM Burritos and Japanese SPAM Loaf.

Satomi and Byron Goo’s The Tea Chest ( was on Davina Lam’s list. “They carry the plantation iced tea blend that Alan Wong’s Pineapple Room serves,” she said, referring to the restaurant in Macy’s Ala Moana. On their website, the Goo’s mention that they’re the exclusive distributor of Shin Cha from Onoen Farm, which began tending the Japanese Emperor’s private tea plants a century ago.

Davina also likes for their seasonal holiday coffee blends, for the beautiful koa pieces and for all the kids in the family.

Alyce Lee recommended Taj Clubhouse as well. She also likes buying holiday gifts from, especially their jams, honey, mochi and interesting Japanese snack items. She also likes Honolulu Cookie Company (

Honolulu Cookie Company is a good alternative to the perennial chocolate-dipped shortbread cookie maker, Big Island Candies (, which recently introduced a line of truffles that includes Mocha, Hibiscus, Dark Chocolate, Yuzu and Coconut flavors.

A big mahalo to Alika Hollister, Terry Akiyama, Myron Ho, Kendall Lee, Kevin Sakuda and Katherine Eslao for their gift ideas. I couldn’t fit all the great ideas into this column, but appreciate their suggestions.

Keith Kamisugi and Kyle Tatsumoto are the Two Japanee Bruddahs. Read past stories at

2 thoughts on “Two Japanee Bruddahs’ Holiday Shopping Guide

  1. Wanted to add this from Kellee Hom. Got this after I sent the article in for publication.Don’t know if this is what you’re looking for, but given the reality of the harsh times ahead, here are economical/crafty ideas that are completely scalable. Costco: Let’s face it, you just can’t go wrong with Costco – they have everything . . . books, gift baskets, wine . . . Or you could make your own gift baskets: Sushi basket: Go to discount stores and markets like Daie get a cute basket, and add all the fixings for sushi: nori, rice, soyu, little dipping cups, nice chopsticks, sake, sake cups, Sam Chow cook book, gift certificate to your favorite Japanese Restaurant. Spa gift basket: Go to discount stores like the Dollar Store, Daie, Price Busters, Big Lots and get a cute basket, soaps, lotions, bath salts, candles, towels, gift certificate from your local Lomilomi practioner, gift certificate for facial/mani/pedi, whatever. Crochet Leis: buy/borrow a book on how to make crochet leis, go to craft store like Joann’s, Beverley’s, Michael’s, Ben Franklin’s or Kaimuki Dry Goods and get eyelash yarn and a crochet hook (if you don’t already have one). You can make full lei’s for the neck, head, put it on a hat, or even scrunchies.Hand made ornaments: I’m making miniature ipu heke (the double gourd instrument used in hula) from tiny gourds (I got mine from a gourd farm Davis Ranch and there is another one in Half Moon Bay, probably the Hula Supply Store might have). In any case, they have a shape that resembles the number 8, and I tied raffia around the middle to make a handle. You can go all out – cutting the very tip off the top part of the “8” to make the hole where the sound would come out of a real ipu heke. You can also paint or wood burn designs onto it – but they are beautiful plain as well.

  2. AlohaFor more information as to where you can purchase gourds and Ipu and Ipu Heke gourds. Greg Leiser Farms is another source of gourds. We grow over 50 acres and have been growing gourds for over 15 years.We supply the Hulu Supply Co. in Hawaii. We are located in Knights Landing, which is North of Davis.

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