■ About the Issue
Welcome to the 91st issue of B.
Thinking about an island evokes a strange sense of
nostalgia. An island is a place we feel we ought to return to someday, even if we are not from an island. And everyone, at some point, has imagined this idea of “going back” to an island. This imagination can become a driving force in our lives when we need to have a vague feeling that we have somewhere to go back to. The fantasy is kind of a last bastion. That almost primal desire to go to an island, if not motivated by the need to escape the confines of civilization, speaks to our instinctual desire to want to recover our natural state as human beings.
After covering a series of places, including Bangkok, Bali, and Copenhagen, B introduces Hawai‘i, the world’s most famous archipelago. Many symbols have come to represent the ideal image of Hawai‘i, too: volcanoes, palm trees, rainbows, Waikiki Beach, the greeting “aloha,” hula, leis, and Hawaiian shirts. For better or worse, tourists consume Hawai‘i like merchandise rather than a culturally rich region. Before the pandemic, Hawai‘i was visited by 10 million tourists every year-almost seven-fold its resident population. It was seemingly the place of dreams for everyone in the world, so much so that some began to depreciate it by calling it “cliché” or “stereotypical.”
I admit that I also saw Hawai‘i as nothing more than a predictable, run-of-the-mill beach vacation destination. But people around me began to talk about why they like Hawai‘i so much, each citing different reasons, and I became increasingly interested in this elusive paradise on Earth. From people who went to the islands on their honeymoon, people who visit each year for surfing and other activities, and people who moved to Hawai‘i for a second chance in life to others who flocked there for revitalization, Hawai‘i seemed to be a place where diverse lives, cultures, and natural environments coexist beautifully. In other words, Hawai‘i has many faces,, and none are subordinate to or dominant over one another. In an email interview with B, one Hawai‘i-based photographer said something that clearly summed up the islands’ spirit: “It’s hard to define where my home or my place is. That’s because, although I live in Hawai‘i, the blood running through my veins is not Hawaiian. So, I prefer to call myself a traveler. I think everyone is a temporary visitor to the Earth.”
Amazingly enough, the different interviewees B met over 10 days in Hawai‘i all treated their homes and work with a “traveler’s spirit.” Rather than focusing on possessions, they tend to preserve Hawai‘i’s legacy as a lifestyle choice to hand it down to the next generation. Whether it is architectural styles of the 1950s through the 1970s, street food, or music that is deeply imbued with a Hawaiian flair, everything seems to be respected as being a part of Hawai‘i and a part of nature. Therefore, anything representing the islands is simple and natural, even if it is a bit unrefined or imperfect. That Hawaiian optimism may come from the traveler’s spirit, and in today’s world that is full of reasons to feel anxious, we all need this spirit.
Content & Editorial Director