HONOLULU - A group of Honolulu kupuna has found a way to stay healthy and keep connected – by playing billiards.

Retiree Wendy Sakata-Inefuku shoots pool at Velvet Touch about six days a week. She's here at least five hours at a time. 

"Every day I come, I love it more and more. I've gone from a workaholic to a pool-aholic," says the former administration and placement manager for Hawaii Job Corps, a career technical training program. 

She's 58-years-old and addicted to a game she just learned last year. What works for her is the mental challenge. "It's much more than just hitting the cue ball to the object ball into the pocket. It's mental focus, your aim, alignment," explain Sakata-Inefuku.
She's one of about two dozen seniors who are regulars. On this day her playing partner was 70-year-old Eddie Nakata, who has leg problems caused when he years ago shattered his ankles. But he likes that he doesn't need to walk well in order to run some balls. "There's aches and pains and everything, but once you start to play, you lose track of your physical ailments and focus on the game," he shares.
This is a game that's a lot harder than it looks. It's about where you're standing, how you're going to hit the cue ball, and about lining up your ball for the next shot. Pool hall manager Warren Masui says he likes that he can offer kupuna a place to go. "It's a good thing for the seniors- rather than have coffee, go home, and that's the highlight of their day."

Masui, age 78, manages the hall, but plays, too. He loves the social connection. "The big thing is getting together with the people here; they're friends of mine. And helping them. I get the biggest bang out of teaching people," he says.

Want to find new friends and get some exercise? These folks will urge you to "cue up" to play pool. 

Velvet Touch has a senior discount. From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., it's $2 an hour. Find out more by calling Velvet Touch at (808) 528-4900 or dropping by at 1960 S. King St. in Honolulu.