Hailing from Osaka, Japan, Ms. Tomoko Kono-Hirayama initially worked as a dental hygienist. She moved to Hawaii in 1992 in the midst of an early 1990’s economic boom. She worked for 5 years at Duty Free department store while enjoying the beautiful Hawaiian lifestyle.
She established Five Comfort, a company dedicated to sell health-related products, in 2002. Her main product was five-toed socks, therapeutic compression socks. She sold her products at various merchandise festivals, senior centers, churches, and any other locations that allowed her to share her revolutionary product. During this time, she obtained her own show on the Japanese radio station KZOO where she spoke monthly about podiatry and foot-related health.
In 2005, her daughter Kanako, aged 16 at the time, was diagnosed with surfer’s myelopathy, a rare paraplegia caused by hyperextension of the back often occurring amongst first-time surfers. Kanako was told that she would never walk again. Tomoko sought various products to assist with her daughter’s paralysis and newfound life in a wheelchair. During her search, she came across Dr. L’s company who sold various health products. In particular, Kanako utilized their seat cushions when utilizing a wheelchair. In 2006, Tomoko began to sell Dr. L’s seat cushions. However, Tomoko was determined to see her daughter walk again. She created specialized insoles to aid her daughter’s therapy. Tomoko also ensured that her daughter wore five-toed socks daily from the very onset of her condition. After intensive therapy combined with the specialized insoles and five-toed socks, Kanako’s condition improved exponentially after three months. She regained feeling in her toes and gradually began to walk again.
In 2007, Tomoko began selling her five-toed socks and therapeutic pillows at Shirokiya, a Japanese department store in Ala Moana Shopping Center. She sold them on a tiny table as an independent vendor. In 2012, Shirokiya underwent a major overhaul and created the “Shirokiya Healthcare Plaza” as part of their changes. Shirokiya saw Tomoko’s potential and offered her an opportunity to take charge of this new store section. At this time, Tomoko changed her company to “Aloha Genki LLC” in order to expand her product line. She became the tenant of the Shirokiya Healthcare Plaza and continued to sell products as Aloha Genki LLC.
Shirokiya closed its doors at the end of March 2016 and the Shirokiya Healthcare Plaza ceased operations. Aloha Genki LLC’s products can now be found at Runner’s Route, located on Kapiolani Boulevard. Tomoko strives to continue providing resources and help for the Hawaii community and ensuring a healthy life for all.