There have been a lot of places that weren’t what they “seemed”. I don’t mean massage parlors, private club bars, and the like. Those don’t count because nobody expects them to be what they say they are.
Kind of like “Smith’s Union Street Bar” which was several blocks from The Union Street Mall and the “Corner Liquor” store which was never on a corner during the 20 or so years I was familiar with it.
At one time there was a “Moiliili Bakery” on South King Street. It was one of those little “bodega” type store that mostly sold booze, rolling papers and candy bars. It wasn’t really a bakery in any definition of the word.
But the Moiliili Bakery was really something different.
You had to be a special visitor, or a member of a very special group to understand what was so special about the bakery.
It was a fairly dark place, even in the middle of the day. You had to let your eyes adjust and then look really hard up into the dark corners of the shop to see what was so special; swords.
After the end of WWII the owner Toshio had started buying Japanese swords from returning Servicemen He often knew more about the sword than the GI selling it. Old Samurai Family’s often had family swords outfitted with military hardware when the sons, grandsons, and other members went off to war. These swords would look like any other sword, unless you knew what you were looking at, and then you had to know what you were looking for. They don’t look 2 to 3 hundred years old and worth more than some major companies.
He knew what he was looking at. So he bought swords, spears and other returning souvenirs.
Some of those he acquired were considered “National” treasures and he agreed they would return to the Japanese government upon his death.
His death, in 1977 was the result of a couple of low life street thugs who only thought of “rich” in terms of dollars. If memory serves me, Tosh managed to get a couple of shots of his own off before succumbing to his own mortal wounds.
Shortly after his death his collection was indeed returned to the Government of Japan. An armored car with white gloved attendants picked up all of the treasures.
Nobody was charged with his murder until 2006, 29 years later. The two culprits, both whose names were familiar to area beat cops of those days, were both already convicted killers.
One hopes there is a special circle of hell with 2 reserved seats.