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Japanese culture runs deep in the Hawaiian Islands, and for more than a century Iida’s has perpetuated these traditions by offering patrons pieces of Japanese cultural keepsakes.
Company president Robert Iida used to frequent Oahu’s high schools in the 1980s to educate students about the history of Japan and its traditions, but eventually stopped the practice because of time constraints. Still, the former pastime is something daughter and store manager Shirley Iida hopes to revive in the near future.
“The history and tradition and folklore is lost,” she said, noting that many of today’s youth are unfamiliar with popular writings such as “Momotaro,” the heroic tale of the Peach Boy. “We want to bring the tradition back.”
Each item within Iida’s has rich history behind it, and it’s not uncommon for customers to walk away with not only significant cultural items in hand, but the lessons and stories behind each piece as well.
Now with Boy’s Day, also known as Tango No Sekku, just around the corner, Iida’s has something special for the May 5 festivities.
Koinobori (“flying carp streamers”) adorn the walls of Iida’s, located at 1202 Kona St., and on the shelves are wooden kokeshi dolls, happi pants and chanchanko apparel. A history buff when it comes to Japanese traditions and culture, Robert explained that the carp and iris flower symbolize Boy’s Day — the former for its strength and courage, the latter for its blooming period according to the Chinese calendar.
One notable item for Boy’s Day is “Hapa Boy,” a custom-made wooden kokeshi doll that sports a baseball cap and brown hair. Robert designed the doll, and astute spectators can clearly see the similarities between the finished product and its creator.
“It kind of resembles my dad,” Shirley added with a smile.
Iida’s is located at 1202 Kona St. Visit the store between 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday, and noon to 3 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 973-0320 or visit www.iidashawaii.com.