Matsumoto Shave Ice: Where Did You Go?

So today I decided to swing by Matsumoto Shave Ice for their Grand Reopening. I posted the photo below on Instagram just a few moments after I had soaked in what I had just seen and experienced.

Childhood memories, crushed. Adult memories, crushed. Future shave ice memories, ruined. The once iconic hole-in-a-wall mecca for shave ice connoisseurs is now but a dripping shell of itself. It looks so new. It looks so corporate. I no longer feel like I’m stepping into a rustic time capsule from 1955. Instead, I feel like I am walking into a Target.

Hawaii Target locations each have a little section dedicated to selling Hawaii souvenirs. You know, the cheesy stuff, including, but not limited to, break-in-a-week ukuleles, horrid aloha shirts, and God awful mugs with palm trees on them and HAWAII plastered across the middle in some horrible serif text. Walking into the new Matsumoto Shave Ice is like walking into a…wait, not Target, worse…a Wal-Mart. The rustic character of the old Matsumoto Shave Ice is gone and has now been replaced with a sterile, corporate-like makeover.

And don’t even get me started about this thing that they are selling called an Ichiban Special. It has condensed milk and mochi balls, and I am guessing they’re making it to keep up with all the fancy guys in Honolulu. Stick to the simple comforts people. Rainbow, with ice cream, and maybe some azuki beans. That’s how you do it. None of this Ichiban Special nonsense.

And if the Ichiban Special doesn’t give you Wes Craven like sweats, how about this: all of the old photos of celebrities from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s have been removed. I asked Noriko Matsumoto, one of the owners of Matsumoto Shave Ice what had happened to the old photos. Covered in lei, she seemed a bit confused and flustered, but then pointed to the large, framed, vintage signage plastered behind the shave ice assembly line. I shook my head and said, “no, where’s Tom Hanks and the other Kodak photos.” Then, she got it. She nervously nodded and said that they were working on bringing the old photos back, but that “they need to find a space for them.” I said “yes, please bring them back because I miss them.” She nodded and said that a lot of people have been asking about those old photos. Yes, we do miss Tom Hanks, but that’s not all we miss. We miss Matsumoto Shave Ice, the old Matsumoto Shave Ice…sans Ichiban Special.

Needless to say, here are a few photos. More importantly, I hope that you’ve saved your memories of the Matsumoto Shave Ice of yesteryear, because, well, it’s gone now.

Mr. and Mrs. Matsumoto, I don’t blame you. I get it, adapt or get kicked to the curb. Instead, I send my stink eye to Kamehameha Schools and their North Shore Plan.


What happened? What is this? Why?







Bowls, because I guess people don’t want to get the sticky syrup all over themselves. Little do they know…dun dun dun…that was part of the experience.



Vintage Matsumoto Shave Ice came in a cone, like this tiny souvenir. I looked forward to getting syrup all over my hands while digging deep for azuki beans and ice cream. Side note: sans serif font on the cone.


Matsumoto Shave Ice
66-111 Kamehameha Hwy
Haleiwa, HI 96712