I wanna ride on abroad
Honolulu Century Ride 2023 chronicle
#3 Hawaii was incredibly Hawaii.

What kind of impression comes to your mind when you hear about Hawaii? I’ve disliked it for as long as I can remember. I thought it was a place where celebrities go to frolic, where people ride banana boats and make a lot of noise, and it was filled with “ignorance-based prejudice.” I’ve never been a fan of glitzy things. I originally studied literature, and I’m actually quite introverted. I thought I’d never go there in my life. However, life is unpredictable. I was invited to participate in the Honolulu Century Ride for an article on this website. At 54 years old, I unexpectedly found myself embarking on my first trip to Hawaii.

When I wrote on Facebook that I was going to Hawaii, I received various reactions.

One person said this:
“Hawaii is addictive once you become a Middle-aged man.”

Another person said this:
“Out of all the places I’ve been to, it’s my least favorite.”

Hmm, what on earth is Hawaii? It feels like I’ve opened Pandora’s box. Hawaii becomes more mysterious, growing larger and larger.

The question arises: which side of the spectrum do I belong to?

The flight to Hawaii turned out to be surprisingly close, taking about 8 hours. I departed from Haneda at 9:00 PM, and for some reason, I arrived at 7:00 AM the morning before. I had intended to catch up on some work that had piled up, but I ended up enjoying some wine with the in-flight meal and dozed off. When I woke up, I was in Hawaii. It was quite anticlimactic that, after half a century of stubbornly avoiding Hawaii, our encounter happened so unexpectedly.

The Honolulu airport was sunny and clear.
The bus also has a Hawaiian vibe.
The airport is open-air in some places.

When I left the airport building, the breeze was pleasant, and I couldn’t help but exclaim, “Ah, it’s so nice.” It felt like a good omen.

Producer Watanabe rented a car, and we headed to the hotel, about 30 minutes from Daniel K. Inouye International Airport to Waikiki. The sky was clear, with big white clouds, palm trees, and banyan trees. As I gazed out of the car window, I thought to myself, “Ah, I’ve really come to Hawaii.”

We arrived at the hotel a little after 12 o’clock. It was still too early for check-in.

Producer Watanabe made a suggestion.

“Kawase-san, this is your first time in Hawaii, right? I’d like to discuss our plans for tomorrow and beyond. How about going to a quintessential Hawaiian cafe to chat?”

We headed to a pleasant cafe facing the beach in Waikiki. It was very open, with a complete open-air terrace. By the way, even Honolulu’s airport has a section in the lobby on the way to the boarding gates that’s an open-air terrace. It’s the airport lobby, mind you. It’s so open-minded. Hawaii, I had completely misunderstood you. I’m sorry for being so stubborn. My heart is melting.

The view from that terrace is perfectly and undeniably Hawaiian from every angle. There’s not a single flaw. A pleasant breeze gently blows as you sip on your iced coffee. The trees sway softly, and it’s just so comfortable. What is this place? Isn’t it like paradise?

Producer Mr. Watanabe
Editor Ms. Kamura

Opening the map, I checked the Century Ride course. One mile equals 1.6 kilometers, and the Century Ride covers 100 miles, which means cycling 160 kilometers. It’s quite a distance, considering that Tokyo to Hakone is about 80 kilometers.

“At the beginning, everyone’s enthusiastic, but it gets tough in the second half. So it’s better to start with a more moderate pace. Also, we often ride on the shoulder of the road, and there are quite a few punctures. It’s a round-trip course, and about 10 kilometers before the turnaround point, you’ll be riding right along the coast. It’s incredibly scenic,” explained Producer Watanabe.

Watanabe offered various specific tips, taking into account that this would be my first Century Ride, not to mention my first time in Hawaii. He suggested doing a trial ride while getting accustomed to Hawaii’s traffic rules. Hawaii drives on the right, which is different from Japan. When making a left turn, you should turn from the center of the intersection just like cars. A trial ride beforehand would make things smoother. Plus, it’s essential to get some exercise in Hawaii’s climate. I agreed without hesitation.

After returning to the hotel, Watanabe and the crew had meetings and went their separate ways. I went for a walk with Editor Kamura.

I learned that Kamura had almost no experience with road cycling but was planning to challenge the 80-kilometer course of the Century Ride. With no experience, she wondered if she would be okay. I smiled and reassured her that she would be fine. It might be quite challenging, but I couldn’t say that. This is Hawaii, a paradise, after all. I was sure that God would look after her, even though I didn’t know.

We strolled together, taking in famous souvenir shops. Eventually, Kamura had to go to a meeting, so I continued to wander around the Waikiki area on my own.

In Waikiki, there was a lineup of luxury hotels along the beach. The streets were filled with high-end brand stores. There seemed to be more tourist-oriented convenience stores like ABC Stores than you could count within a single block. It was a meticulously woven, full-fledged resort, in other words, a super tourist destination. But it had an air of relaxation, something about it felt easygoing. Not bad at all.

An elderly couple, dressed in Aloha attire, walked hand in hand, as if in a scene from a commercial. There were surfers in their swimsuits carrying their boards, and a lady in shorts strolling with her dog. The gentle breeze passed through the people, creating a delightful atmosphere.

So, the true essence of Hawaii was this pleasant breeze, wasn’t it?

Not too hot, not too cold, just the right breeze. People from all over the world gathered, drawn to this miraculous climate, which created this diverse world.

On the way back, I was caught in a sudden rain shower. The people on the streets remained unfazed. Such rains, called “showers,” are not uncommon in Hawaii. I joined other folks in seeking shelter under the eaves of an ABC Store. “Phew, time for a little break,” I thought. A few minutes later, the rain stopped, and that pleasant breeze returned.

On the first day of our stay, Hawaii was incredibly “Hawaii.” I genuinely fell in love with this Hawaii, and now it’s time for the Honolulu Century Ride.

To ride through this endlessly graceful Hawaii with cycling enthusiasts from around the world is going to be an incredibly happy experience. Just thinking about it makes me excited.

Text & Photo_Daisaku Kawase

🚴‍♂️Honolulu Century Ride 2023 Chronicle🚴‍♂️

#01 Bike transport: It’s Always a Dilemma (Part 1)
#02 Bike transport: It’s Always a Dilemma (Part 2)
#03 Hawaii was incredibly Hawaii
#04 First Hawaii Ride – Test Run Episode
#05 Ride! Honolulu Century Ride !


Daisaku Kawase
He is a Free Producer, the Representative of Days Co., Ltd. Born in Aichi Prefecture. With 16 years of road cycling experience, he loves scenic rides. He squeezes in rides between work and travels all over Japan with his bike. His beloved bike is a Trek. After working as a producer on programs like “Ariyoshi no Okane Hakken Totsugeki! Kaneo-kun,” “Oyasumi Japan Nemuiine,” and “Asaichi” at NHK, he became independent in 2022. In addition to producing programs, he also handles project production for government and corporate clients.