Mark A. Harbison, 72, passed on December 9, 2022, of heart failure at Maui Memorial, with his soulmate of 40 years, Lisa Oyama, at his side.
Mark was pre-deceased by his parents Orvillle and Wynona Harbison, sister Kate Burns, and brother Scott Harbison. He is survived by his wife, Lisa Oyama.
Mark was born in Enid, Oklahoma. He was an ABD doctoral student in classical Japanese poetry at Stanford University. He conducted his doctoral research at Tokyo University and Waseda University. He was a Japanese-English translator at Kodansha International, Tokyo, of 20 books, ranging from modern literature, Kabuki theatre, cuisine, social anthropology, politics, and traditional art. Mark was fluent in Japanese, with the ability to read, write, and speak. He won first place in a Nezu, Tokyo, karaoke contest, singing “Jinsei Gekijo”. He then moved into Japanese investment banking, specializing in banks and trading houses at W.I. Carr, Union Bank of Switzerland, and Merrill Lynch Smith New Court, Tokyo.
After 25 years living and working in Tokyo, Mark and Lisa moved back to her hometown on Maui in 2001. Mark activated his real estate license at Coldwell Banker Island Properties and never changed companies. He was a Realtor Broker, with Graduate Research Institute, Certified International Property Specialist, Accredited Buyer’s Representative, E-pro, and Asian Real Estate Association designations. A member of the Realtors Association of Maui, he was a long time member of the Government Affairs Committee.
Mark served as President of the Maui Food Bank for 10 years, focusing on food insecurity on the island, particularly during Covid.
Mark was Past President of the Kihei Wailea Rotary Club. He was a leading light in Rotary International, District 5000 (Hawa’ii), and helped to organize life-improving grants on Maui and around the world. He was committed to raising literacy, providing clean water, eradicating polio, fighting blindness, and promoting peace.
He enthusiastically supported the Kihei Youth Center. Mark received a 2017 Peace Hero Award, Maui Seasons for Peace, and a Special Recognition from Gov. David Ige: “With ‘Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things,” our community becomes a better place for generations to come. Your efforts to promote peace and non-violence throughout our Aloha State and the world is greatly appreciated. Mahalo for your leadership and commitment.”
We shall miss this unique, funny, mischievous, and passionate person who gave so much of himself. Maui, Hawai’i, and Rotary have lost an advocate, a gentleman, and a scholar.
My first trip to Maui was to go to a wedding-my own. My wife, Lisa Oyama, grew up in Maui, and introduced me to the islands in 1982, when we were married at the Japanese Garden in Iao Valley. I discovered scuba diving during our honeymoon, and ever since, Maui, and its surrounding ocean, have been my spiritual home.
Lisa and I have been investing in Maui real estate, since 1988, when we bought our first condominium at Sugar Beach Resort. Since then, we have bought and sold several condos in South Maui, and several years ago, acquired a house in Wailea Pualani Estates. Around the same time, I became a major investor in Ed Robinson’s Diving Adventures, as Lisa and I became increasingly committed to a future on Maui, and further developing our interest in resort development. We still own our Sugar Beach unit, and three oceanfront condos at Kihei Surfside, where I am now in my third term as Treasurer.
We “returned” to Maui just before 9/11, after 20 years as expatriates in Tokyo (with a short diversion in Hong Kong during and after the handover). I speak, read, and write Japanese. Japanese literature was my specialty at Stanford and at the University of Tokyo. I have published or co-published many books on Japanese politics, economics, literature, and popular culture, including the popular culture of drinking sake. More recently, I worked for a British boutique investment bank as an economist and strategy analyst, and even more recently started my own consulting firm in Tokyo specializing in cross-border property and resort development deals.
While pursuing my own interests in resort development and structuring cross-border property deals, I use my Japanese language skills to assist Japanese owners who want to sell properties in Hawaii, and new Japanese buyers who share our enthusiasm for the islands. I am also very interested in helping Asian expatriates who may be contemplating a second home in Hawaii, as an investment, or as an eventual retirement home. I am focusing my own training on the financing, tax, immigration, and estate-planning issues that confront foreign and non-resident sellers and buyers, and have already invested considerable time in gaining the expertise to help people find the best financing, accounting, and legal advice. We may live in a borderless world, but the issues confronting foreign buyers and sellers, or even Americans living abroad, are complex, and demand specialized knowledge.
Which, of course, does not mean that I am not interested in helping resident Americans to buy or sell property in Maui. Most of the areas of expertise referred to above come into play when Americans purchase property in Hawaii. I am running an Open House at the Palms of Wailea as I write this, and plan to spend a good part of next week showing Kihei condos to a couple from Victoria, BC.
All work and no play makes for a dull introduction to my website. I am a PADI divemaster, underwater photographer and videographer. I am gourmet cook, collector of Japanese pottery, prints, and antiques. And I love to travel, especially in Asia and the Pacific-which is good, because I do a lot of it. I have just finished a year (2005-2006) as President of the Kihei-Wailea Rotary Club, and the Rotary District 5000 (Hawaii) Youth Exchange Country Coordinator for Japan, Korea, and the Philippines.
I hope this website will make it easier for you to define your interests and investigate what is available on this beautiful island. Believe it or not, there are homes for every budget and every type of interest, from hardcore beach (or boat) addicts to part-time cowgirls. Normally a boat addict, I have been exploring upcountry lately, searching for exotic tropical plants for my Japanese garden.
Dive in. I hope you enjoy it. E komo mai!