Top 7: Ways You Know You’re From Hawaii


Ashley Onzuka

When you see pictures like this, you know you’re in Hawaii

By Ashley Onzuka, Staff Writer

As a local, born and raised in Hawaii, certain customs and habits have made its way to become a statewide social norm. It’s mind blowing how the majority of the locals unknowingly pick up these habits that are commonly explained as, “it’s a Hawaii thing.” Here are the top seven ways you know someone is from Hawaii.

Leave your slippers (NOT flip-flops) at the door.

In the television shows we watched while growing up, the characters would always walk through their entire house while wearing shoes. This included all types of shoes: slippers, sneakers, high heels and even muddy cleats after the big victory game episode. No house in Hawaii would ever allow that. You walk through the house in dirty slippers? You get whacked by the rubber slipper. End of discussion.

“What school you went?”

One of the most common questions asked when you live in Hawaii is, “What school you went?” “School” meaning which high school you attended. Everyone knows someone who knows someone who knows someone. Hawaii is the place where the phrase “Ho, small world” is constantly used. If asked, “What school you went?” and you attended a non-Hawaii school, a typical response would simply be, “Oh.” If you did attend a Hawaii high school, a typical response would be, “Ho, you know (so and so)? I think her cousin (so and so) went there too.” Like I said, everyone knows someone who knows someone.

Adding li hing-mui to everything

Snacking is a major component of Hawaii customs. A local hole-in-the-wall crack seed store can be found in almost any area of Hawaii. A crack seed store is a small, usually a mom-and-pop store that sells candies, cookies, and practically any local snack imagined. One of these widely popular local snacks is li hing-mui. Li hing-mui is a dried plum, often can be sold in a powder form, that sends the tastebuds in a sweet, sour, and salty sensation. This popular snack is consumed but is not limited to li hing-mui seeds, li hing-mui gummy candy, li hing-mui apples, li hing-mui arare, and li hing mango. Even thinking about li hing-mui makes mouths water. This local sensation is worth every red stained mouth and fingertip.

Giving directions

These are two ways to give directions:

“You’re going to drive down Waialae. Pass Kilauea. Keep going straight and Zippy’s will be on your right hand side.”

“Drive down Waialae under the freeway. Gas station and Kahala Mall is on the makai side. Keep going. Then Zippy’s is gonna be on the mauka side.”

In Hawaii, the use of mauka, which means the mountain side, and makai, which mean the ocean side, is commonly used. Street names are rarely used because relying on landmarks and familiar places are easier to remember. If you are unfamiliar with Hawaii slang and landmarks, it would probably be best to GPS it rather than asking a local.

Everyone is your aunty and uncle

Everyone, usually over the age of 21, is referred to as aunty and uncle. The lady that took your order at Zippy’s gives you a free-refill? “Thanks aunty!” Your next door neighbor helps you fix the squeaky fence? “Thanks uncle!” Aside from doing this out of respect, the only explanation of why we refer to strangers as aunty and uncle, as opposed to Mr. and Mrs., is that it’s just a “Hawaii thing.”

Fundraiser means Zippy’s chili tickets

From elementary to high school, fundraising was always an aspect in your life. Aside from the typical fundraisers such as car wash, bake sale, and craft fairs, we all know what the number one fundraiser was: Zippy’s chili tickets. Nothing says fundraiser than to ask all your uncles and aunties, neighbors and coworkers to buy some chili tickets. If you had to fundraise or knew someone who had to, there was no way to avoid some convenient chili tickets.

Dressing nice. *wears aloha shirt*

Ashley Onzuka
Casual Friday? No. Aloha attire everyday.

There is no bad time or wrong place to wear an aloha shirt in Hawaii. Unlike the mainland where “casual Fridays” mean whipping out their aloha shirt. Here, an aloha shirt can range from casual wear to business attire to semi-formal wear. Sister’s wedding? *wears aloha shirt* Uncle’s funeral? *wears aloha shirt* Business meeting? *wears aloha shirt* Daughter’s graduation? *wears aloha shirt*