Muumuu enthusiast finds family treasure at Salvation Army

A woman went found a dress at a thrift store with a surprising family connection.

Shannon Hiramoto from Kauai, Hawaii was met with quite the surprise on a recent shopping adventure at Salvation Army. Always on the hunt for for vintage versions of the muumuu, she came across a ‘mini’ dress (the Hawaiian-style dress is usually long) in a pink and purple print that caught her eye. Hiramoto, self-proclaimed muumuu enthusiast according to Khon2, knew the piece was special — but had no idea how extraordinary it truly was until she dug a little deeper.

Shannon Hiramoto made a regular trip to Salvation Army, not expecting what she’d find. (Photo: Instagram/machinemachine)
Shannon Hiramoto made a regular trip to Salvation Army, not expecting what she’d find. (Photo: Instagram/machinemachine)

When I looked at the tag, it said Liberty House, then it also had handwritten on it ‘Kamei,'” she explained to the local news channel, “and it blew my mind, because that’s my great-grandmother’s name, her last name.”

Without a second thought, Hiramoto took the muumuu home, thinking that the coincidence was too crazy to overlook. But it wasn’t until some time later that she started to feel as though she’d actually seen the dress before. “I just knew that she always liked to wear muumuu that had pink or purple or red,” Hiramoto said of her great-grandmother, “and it seemed familiar in this memory way.” So she called up her mother to start looking through family photo albums.

The results were unfruitful at first, until just a few days later.

A Mu'umu'u Story: A few weeks ago I was thrift store shopping at the new Salvation Army in Lihue and I came across this beautiful mini mu'u. I was shocked when I noticed the Liberty House label and saw the name Kamei written on it. My Great Grandmother's last name was Kamei and she loved mu'u that were pink or purple or red. I was surprised to find this because she passed away 5 yrs ago! Could it be hers? There aren't many Kamei on Kauai. It looked so familiar but I needed proof. (See my archive instastory to see how I felt the day I found this mini mu'u!) My mom and I went through all our old photo albums hunting for proof. Alas nothing! Then I get a text photo from mom the other night–it was hers! The last photo in the last photo album! I immediately knew where this photo was taken. Her church in Hanapepe–where she is actually resting to this day (her ashes are in a cubby back there.) I've come full circle and feel like she is smiling down on me or at least giggling. Florence Shizuko Kamei was born in Kekaha in 1904, one of her legacies is that when she passed she was the oldest person in Hawaii at age 108! When she died they announced it on the radio and news! Her secret? Green tea and hobbies. She loved her church choir, playing ukulele, Japanese dancing, joking around, and eating. My daughter shares her middle name Shizuko which means Quiet Child (neither of them have quiet personalities!) And I'm definitely passing this dress down to her. #heirloomserendipity #thiskauaianlife #winksfromgreatgrandma #smalljoys #muumuuforever #alohafriday #hanapepe

A post shared by machinemachine (@machinemachine) on Mar 9, 2018 at 12:53pm PST


“My mom texts me a photo and it’s this,” Hiramoto said pointing to the muumuu she had on, “and it’s [my great-grandmother], and it’s a full-body shot and I was just so excited.”

But the fateful discovery went even further when they deciphered the location of the photo as the United Church of Christ in Hanapepe. “What’s really special about it is she’s there,” Hiramoto said. “Her ashes, her remains are in the back of the church there, so it was like visiting her again.”

Hiramoto went to re-visit her great-grandmother, returning to that same church in the same muumuu to take the same picture. And although Hiramoto has no idea where the muumuu has been in the five years since her great-grandmother’s passing, she’s taking full control of where it’ll go next, starting with her own daughter.

It’s magic,” Hiramoto said. “I think it’s just her way of telling me I’m on the right track.”

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