pearl city: the happiest city in hawaii

Courtney Takabayashi
May 23, 2019

Pearl City understands happiness. There's a reason the it was ranked the 16th happiest city in the nation, making it the happiest city in the state. Here’s what Pearl City residents have to say about the place they call home.

It starts with the people
The people of Pearl City are humble, hard-working, and selfless,” says Pearl City High School graduate, teacher, and coach, Daphne Okunaga. “I love my hometown because it’s where I grew up, went to school, and established my roots.” Whenever she’s out and about in the neighborhood, she always runs into someone she knows. “I see friends, family, even my classmates' children or former students' children around and I feel like I'm home because there’s always someone to talk story with or give a hug to.”

Location, location, location
Paul and Alice Kudo moved to Pearl City in 1971 and never regretted it for a second. “It’s a bustling community with easy access to the freeway, stores, supermarkets, gas stations, health care facilities, financial institutions, and more,” Alice says. Her husband appreciates the peace of mind that comes with living in Pearl City. “We feel safe since there’s HPD and HFD presence watching out for us. It’s easy to take advantage of the kupuna centers, community centers and parks, hiking trails, and miles of walkways for people and pets.”

Alice and Paul Kudo, long-time residents of Pearl City

Fifty-year resident Jits Fujimura agrees. “We have great businesses, so we don’t have to travel that far to go shopping or watch a movie.”

A united community
Barry Villamil, 49-year resident of Pearl City and web editor and community liaison for wasn’t surprised when he found out that Pearl City was named the happiest city in the state. “Our community has so much to celebrate. We’re a multi-generational culture that truly cherishes and cares for our neighbors. Pearl City’s happiness is perpetuated through the heart and generosity of its people.”

Jits Fujimura (left) and Barry Villamil (right) volunteering at a community event. Both gentlemen serve on the Pearl City Community Association Board and are both Pearl City Lions Club members. 

If you’re ever in the neighborhood, Villamil suggests going to Pearl City Shopping Center’s Messages of Life Healing W.A.L.L. (With Aloha, Love Lives) to get a true sense of the community. There are more than 4,000 inspirational messages handwritten on sticky notes from residents and visitors to the Pearl City community. The W.A.L.L. started on November 10, 2017, and has become a gathering place for anyone who wants to share their feelings, thoughts, and joy. Anyone can contribute to the W.A.L.L. “Whether you write something or just read the messages,” Villamil says, “you’re helping to contribute to the happiest city in Hawaii.”

Photos by Barry Villamil

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