The K Streets is a neighborhood of nooks and crannies, a relatively dense urban environment where small treasures lurk around unexpected corners, behind fences and down driveways.
To explore this part of paradise it is always advisable to first obtain a royal trespass dispensation from the Lobster King.
At this Noble Crustacean’s mighty court, the King’s relatives are routinely sacrificed for the princely sum of $11.99. Much like the Game of Thrones but with black bean sauce.
In an adjacency that jars, we find a hidden treasure, one of the most elaborate displays of Japanese Buddhist temple architecture in Hawaii situated next to a McDonald’s restaurant and across the street from the Meadow Gold milk bottling plant.
The Shingon Shu Mission was first built in 1917-1918 by Nakagawa Katsutaro, a master builder of Japanese-style temples, then renovated in 1929 by Hego Fuchino, a self-taught man who was the first person of Japanese ancestry to become a licensed architect in the Islands.
The statue in front depicts Kōbō Daishi who founded the Shingon sect of Buddhism in the mid-800s. The two statues behind are Fujin (l) and Raishin (r) the gods of Wind and Thunder respectively. Made of Japanese cypress these are the largest Wind and Thunder statues outside of Japan.
Greenery flourishes in the K Streets but not necessarily what one might anticipate.
To be sure, lush and bountiful papaya trees sprout near soaring condo towers but we also have some impressive cactus growing in the tiny front lawns of three story walk-up apartment buildings.
The two frequent readers of this blog may remember that this neighborhood is a hot bed of avant garde commercial enterprises, the cutting edge of entrepreneurial originality.
Here. example, we have a cocktail lounge named “Napa Valley”.
It certainly brings back fond memories of verdant vineyards awaiting the autumn crush, doesn’t it?
You say this crass brand piracy saddens you?
Perhaps you are not impressed with the view from the four panes of security glass that provide the only natural light in the joint.
A nice glass of Mad Dog 20/20 might cheer you up.
Perhaps a dirge at the Tchaikovsky Music School would fit your emo mood. Pyotr Ilyich would have been so proud.
Not far away from Max’s home is the Maui Divers Design Center.
Their coral jewelry in particular is quite famous and each year about 150,000 people visit the design center and factory on a free tour that features over 12,000 unique designs.
The submarine, I am told, is authentic and was actually used to harvest black coral from deep in the Molokai Channel back in the 1960s.
I’m not so sure; to me, it looks suspiciously like a child’s oversize bath toy. Admittedly, I can’t remember a lot about the 1960s, man. I think they were bitchin’. But I digress.
On the eastern most side of the K Streets is a large senior and low income public housing project comprising a couple of ten story buildings and extensive tree shaded grounds.
The folks there have established a community garden and most mornings Max and I shout our greetings over the wall to residents working the soil.
The project gardens are next door to the Choon Chun Chicken restaurant which closed. Probably because it was named Choon Chun Chicken.
Or maybe because of reviews like this one on Yelp: “We had …all kinds of vegetables and some meat (it was ok nothing spectacular) Korean pancakes (ok a bit oily) fried chicken ( very crispy, not much meat, kind of fatty) all in all it was ok wasn’t good or bad.” A truly ringing endorsement.
But, wait, what’s that little bistro across Kalakaua Avenue? Why, it’s none other than the Frog House, a Korean restaurant specializing in…I have absolutely no idea. But whatever it is, it probably tastes like Choon Chun Chicken.
At this point we were pretty tired so I told Max to lead me home.
He took me to Home Bar & Grill.
He’s a very smart dog!