Mo'ili'ili Mochi & Candies (circa 1975)

There's so much to reminisce about, it can feel overwhelming. But I'll start with Mo'ili'ili Mochi & Candies.

On those days when mom would have me and my little brother, Kimo, walk with her from our block (where the fire station used to be) to Star Market, I suppose we dreaded it. Mom always made sure we went shishi before we left, and also had a glass of water. She was concerned about hydration that way. I was about 8 to 10 years old when we did these walks to get groceries. It felt like 10 miles away, but we seemed pretty healthy now that I look back.

On the way home, we stopped by Mo'ili'ili Mochi & Candies sometimes. Most of the time, she kept walking and we kept begging, "Ma, let us get chichidango! Please!" And our mom, being deaf (literally) just kept going. She'd turn back, knowing what we wanted, but also knowing that her wallet was almost empty and that the mochi store doesn't take food stamps, haha... she kept going and Kimo and I would grunt and catch up, those bags of groceries slumping in our arms.

But the times when we got those chichidango were GREAT. Those pink, yellow and white colors just called out to my stomach so much. To this day, I don't turn down a chance to get some, even though I prefer the regular bean mochi.

It was a sad time, of course, when the mochi shop closed down. After decades of serving the community, gone. Turned out the store moved across town to Liliha, of all places. Still the same name, but might as well have been on Mars for a youngster like me. It was later, during college, that I learned that my part-time on-campus job led me to the new owner of the mochi shop. Her name was Eva, can't remember the last name. The nicest lady you'd ever meet.

I came across this story online at MidWeek in December 2006 that covered the gamut of great mochi shops on Oahu. In the story, I see that my favorite old mochi store has new ownership, still located in Liliha. I should go there sometimes, just for old time sake, and support an establishment that was an apple in my youthful eye. Where the store once stood, Kuni Dry Goods now exists. That's a whole 'nother story, how Kuni used to have the bigger space on the corner, but the demand for sewing material and classes diminished over the years as society changed. Now Kinko's is there, busy day and night.

I would love to go back in time to the mochi store, with my grown-up wallet and a few more bucks in it, and buy all the chichidango I want to my heart's content. And I'd buy a ton of mochi for Kimo and mom, too. That would definitely make them smile.

Note: I'm searching the net for a photo of the exact kind of chichidango that was at Mo'ili'ili Mochi. Very tough to find. Other moxhi shops have pink and green chichidango, but none have the pink, yellow and white that I see so vividly in my mind's eye. Maybe I'll have to go to the store in Liliha and see if they make the same kind that was in the store 30 years ago. This is becoming a little bit of a mystery hunt.