My Kind of Town

by Don Chapman

Wednesday, November 7, 2001

Lying in wait

>> Ala Moana Beach Park

Shinjo Eiki launched his one-man submarine in Ho'ola's cove at high tide. Once clear of the two lava arms that reached into the sea and formed the cove, Shinjo submerged the sub and looked back through the periscope. He saw Ho'ola and her valley fading from view, and soon she and her paradise were but a warm blur in his memory. But he felt a pull, and he turned the sub to the west.

Hawaii was a far different place now than it was when Shinjo arrived in 1944. Back then, when he discovered that neither tube in his one-man submarine would fire, even though it was wartime Shinjo found it relatively easy to get from Pearl Harbor to the north shore of Molokai, where he found a quiet cove away from civilization and planned to repair the tubes and get on with his mission of sinking U.S. ships. Instead, he tarried for 57 years in the valley of Ho'ola, goddess of life, making love and never growing old.

But now he was on his mission again, and there were so many more people, more boats, more planes. The biggest difference, Shinjo noticed the first night he was away from Ho'ola, were all the lights along the shorelines of both Molokai and Oahu. It was so much more difficult to be invisible.

And so it was that the Star-Bulletin's Cruz MacKenzie received a call from a retiree who swore he saw a WWII vintage mini-sub -- with a big red circle on the hull, the unmistakable sign of the Rising Sun -- while throw-net fishing at Queen's Beach early that morning. While MacKenzie didn't quite laugh at him, Jimmy Ahuna knew the guy didn't take him seriously.

And as summer turned to fall, Shinjo Eiki felt a greater urgency to complete his mission. The urgency was because from the day he left Ho'ola's valley he began to age rapidly. He'd been 26 when he arrived in 1944, and physically he was still 26 when he launched the sub again. Cruising the islands, Shinjo felt and saw his body age 57 years in just three months. So that now, as his sub lay in 20 feet of water at the bottom of the swimming channel inside the reef at Ala Moana Beach Park, Shinjo was all of 83 years old. His life was ebbing away, but he felt calm, because he knew that this is where he was supposed to be.

This is where he would fulfill his mission. This is where he would bring peace to his brother Tojo's soul. And soon.

Don Chapman is editor of MidWeek.
His serialized novel runs daily in the Star-Bulletin
with weekly summaries on Sunday.
He can be emailed at

E-mail to Features Editor

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2001 Honolulu Star-Bulletin