COURTESY OF GAIL MIYASHIRO
The first of three Cafe 100 locations in Hilo is seen following the April 1, 1946, tsunami. Years later, owner Richard Miyashiro built a new restaurant, which lasted only 23 days before being destroyed by the May 23, 1960, tsunami.
Cafe saved family from tsunami
Ten survivors of the Big Island disasters will be honored at a fundraiser dinner
HILO » Seven-year-old Gail Miyashiro and her parents were among hundreds of people lining the normally lazy Wailoa River after midnight on May 23, 1960, watching the water strangely washing in and out to Hilo Bay.
About 1 a.m., the water suddenly pulled way out into the bay, leaving fish flopping in the mud.
The family ran back to their house behind father Richard Miyashiro's new Cafe 100 restaurant, just reaching home when they saw a tsunami hit the restaurant.
"The cafe exploded," Miyashiro said this week.
Miyashiro's older sister, Gloria Kobayashi, will be one of 10 tsunami survivors honored tomorrow night at the Sixth Annual Talk Story Festival starting at 6 p.m. at the Hilo Hongwanji Sangha Hall.
The $25-per-person event, which includes dinner, is an annual fundraiser for the Pacific Tsunami Museum.
Each honoree's story will be told by people speaking for them.
Kobayashi said the force of the wave hitting the restaurant probably saved the family house behind it. Without that building shielding them, she believes the family would have been killed.
At the moment of destruction, lights went out and the water lifted the family home "like an ark," Miyashiro said. The family knew they were being carried somewhere, but they didn't know where.
"It was pitch black," she said.
They didn't dare leave the house because they had no idea where they were facing or where they should try to go.
Around them, they heard people crying in pain and confusion.
In the morning, they discovered their house had floated about a block before being wedged under a tree.
Other family homes, when not destroyed, were dragged into the bay, Miyashiro said.
Richard Miyashiro's first Cafe 100, at a corner facing the Wailoa Bridge, barely escaped destruction in the April 1, 1946, tsunami.
He made repairs, but by 1960, he decided he needed a more modern building. His new restaurant, the second one, had been open just 23 days when the 1960 tsunami destroyed it, Miyashiro said.
The third Cafe 100, famous for its "loco moco" dish of rice, gravy and egg, was built at the current site on Kilauea Avenue, about 3/4 mile inland from the original location.