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Saturday, July 2, 2016


Most of you reading this blog know about Ala Moana Shopping Center (above), known to be the largest outdoor shopping center in the world with 310 places to go.  Somehow, I wonder, because just the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul (right) has 4,000 shops.  Although it is advertised as the largest "covered" shopping center on Planet Earth, and could well have been the very first shopping mall.  They get 91 million visitors/year, compared, to Ala Moana's 42 million/year.

About shopping malls, when I stopped through Dubai last year they said they had the world's largest shopping center.  However, Wikipedia shows the New South China Mall (left) in Dongguan, China as the biggest, with 9.6 million leasable square feet (Ala Moana has 2.4 million).  Yet, Dubai's is said to have more actual, and not necessarily leasable, space, and said to be the most visited building in the world.  Anyway, it all depends on what you are comparing.  In any case, Dubai has announced plans for the absolute largest,  to be called the Mall of the World, with total climate control, 100 hotels and a theme park.

Now that you know everything about these shopping areas, back to Honolulu and the Shirokiya Japanese Village Walk.  But first, did you know that Shirokiya was founded in 1662 as a Nihonbashi (in Edo, now Tokyo) dry goods store?   This became the first Japan department store. 

Here is the part that will stun you:  the Shirokiya in Hawaii is the ONLY Shirokiya store in the entire world.  What happened was that World War II and the occupation so weakened the company that it was absorbed by the Tokyu Group (railway company, Tokyo Department Store chain and hotels) in the late 50's just around the time that the company was expanding into the brand new Ala Moana Shopping Center.  A few years later came Maui and Pearlridge stores.  Today, only the one at Ala Moana has survived....

...and has evolved into the new Ewa-side Shirokiya Japanese Village Walk:
  • Yataimura food court and beer garden
  • Nippon Komachi shopping alleys
  • Omatsuri Hiroba festival and event square
  • Guardian Spirits Sanctuary good luck gods
While the eating spots open at 10AM until 10PM, their bakery is available from 8AM

Other features include:
  • Seafood Plaza
  • Zeppin Plaza, five exhibition rooms for masterpiece collections
  • Vintage Cave Bakery
  • Five beer stations, all featuring $1 beers
  • KZOO radio station
  • Wagyu Plaza
There are 48 eating places and seating for 900.

Click on it to read the details.  I chose Wagyu Plaza...

...and could have paid as much as $45:

But settled for their $28 wagyu curry:

The person taking my order indicated, feel free to leave any tip in the cup. As in Japan there is no tipping and even here in Hawaii you generally don't tip for fast food, especially with this area indicating...

※Tips & service charge is not required for all stores

...I ignored her.  However, I had difficulty finding a table, and even with my snubbing of the tip, she went out of her way to get me one, smiling all the way through the process.  The meal I had, with a $1 Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, was so terrific, that on my way out I gave her $5.  A problem at Wagyu alley is that the prices are so high that during the hour I was sitting there, I could only discern a second order at the Curry & Stew counter.  I sat there so long because it took almost half an hour to be served.  Apparently, during this transition, there are only a very few cooks, and they must go where there is an order.

Frankly, I don't know anywhere in Japan where you can get this kind of food and sweets variety in one place.  Expect for Wagyu Plaza, the prices are reasonable, and the seating capacity is adequate. 

The Walk is located on the ground level, which can be an adventure to find.  Walking from the Macy's side of the Center, in the vicinity (to the left) of Bloomingdales, take the escalator going down.  If you walk all the way to Nordstrom, you will face problems.  Any day now, across from SJVW, will come the new flagship Foodland Farms on 47,395 square feet (former store occupied 18,500 square feet) of space.

For the record, the first named East Pacific storm, Agatha, formed off the coast of Mexico, and is heading for Hawaii, but will soon weaken:


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