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Palaka Shirts of “Mountain” Connects Okinawa & Hawaii
post : 2016.03.12 07:00
Ukishima Dori (Street) in Naha City is so-called the fashion street where clothing shops gather.
One of the shop named “Mountain” opened on September, 2002, and it is the well-established aloha shirt shop on Ukishima Dori.
Brand new aloha shirts from Hawaii, used shirts, rayon vintage shirts during 1940s – 1950s are lined up at this shop.
The shop carries a stock of Aloha shirts. Usually 600 and maximum of 1,000 shirts are available.
“I am trying to pick the good quantity, quality, and right price for these shirts because I want everybody to think as Aloha shirt = Mountain.”
Rinzan Teruya, the owner of the shop, told me.
He checks the condition and design of each shirt when he purchases them.
Also, he does not pick used shirts just because of the way they look.
“I have to take a look at the material and dirt very carefully because shirts get decolorize or holes when they get washed. So every time I purchase shirts, I picture the image of shirts when people wear them,” said Teruya.
However he just cannot be nervous and he also understands the point of used clothing lovers very well.
Even if the collars of some vintage shirts are dirty but they look cool or rare patterns, he purchases them.
Palaka shirts with thick cotton materials and check pattern. These are Mountain’s original shirts.
The definition of “Palaka” is check pattern, and its history is older than Aloha shirts. It is believed as the origin of Aloha shirts.
It is interesting to note that the history of Palaka shirts is concerned with Okinawa.
In the early 1900s, Mr. Arakawa immigrated to Hawaii from Okinawa to work for sugarcane fields.
And, Palaka shirts were made at “ARAKAWAS STORE” which was owned by Mr. Arakawa.
Nowadays Aloha shirts are known as resort wear, but Palaka shirts were originally the shirts for farmers, basically workwear.
Many years later, a Hawaiian musician named Gabby Pahinui started to wear Palaka shirts on the stage to show respect for farmers back in the old days. Palaka shirts turned out to loveable shirts that are loved by many musicians.
“An Okinawan man who immigrated to Hawaii created Palaka shirts. Many years later, Hawaiian made Palaka shirts returned to ‘Mountain’ in Okinawa.”
Thanks to Teruya for sharing a beautiful story with me.
This is their original Aloha shirt with reprinted vintage pattern, and it is a retro-flavored shirt.
The original Aloha shirts will be available at the shop about 2 times a year. Since purchasing materials in Hawaii and sawing is also done in Hawaii, these shirts are made in Hawaii.
Each shirt will not be available when the material gets run out.
Customers can also order handmade Hawaiian jewelry by jewelry designers in Hawaii.
Old English Hawaiian jewelry is recommended. Scroll (wave), maile (leaf), and Plumeria (flower) are engraved on each item.
Teruya’s hobby is surfing. He puts up posters of surfing in the shop.
He goes to Hawaii for more than 10 years to purchase shirts, so good taste of items are decorated in the shop.
These are license plates of Hawaii. Each state has its nickname in the United States, and Hawaii is “Rainbow State” because rainbow is the symbol of Hawaii.
As a matter of fact, rainbow is drawn on license plates.
Comfortable Hawaiian music is played in the shop, and customers can feel the breeze of Hawaii and spend time here.
Some tourists from Tokyo come to this shop to buy Aloha shirts. It would be good to go to Ukishima Dori to seek for high-quality Aloha shirts.
Address: 2-5-36 Matsuo, Naha City
Business Hours: 11:00-20:00
Closed: Thursday and 4th Sunday of every month
Okinawa CLIP photo writer Osamu Miyajima