Kari Morioka is the owner of KM Crystals Shop in Santa Monica, which sells a wide variety of crystals from around the world. Photo Credit: Debby Tunks

By Tim Tunks

I love living in my south-eastern corner of Ocean Park. I enjoy a great walking neighborhood with century-old Craftsman houses, and nearby stores and small businesses. After 45 years here I’ve gotten to know several store and business owners, some of whom share occasional lunches with me in one of the interesting restaurants within a 10-minute walk. I frequently stick my head into some of the stores as I walk by just to tell them the joke or riddle of the day.

After Kari Morioka opened her KM Crystals Shop around the corner from my house, I stopped in to welcome her and introduce myself as a longtime neighbor who wanted her interesting shop to prosper as yet another local asset. Displaying hundreds of different crystal objects, some in their natural earthen matrixes and others crafted into lovely shapes, she has established something that is all so much more than just a fine gift shop.

My own relationship with crystals began when I built my first crystal set radio receiver with its tuning coil – a discarded toilet paper roll carefully wrapped with fine wire. It was my Cub Scout project nearly 70 years ago, and revealed the resonant properties crystals had as I adjusted the “cat’s whisker” for best reception.

I told Kari about how her crystalline environment warmed my heart with memories of my mother’s collection of natural crystals lined up on her windowsills. She smiled and said, ”You know, there’s so many different reasons that bring people into the shop. but they usually all comment on how good it feels in here. And that really means a lot to me.”

She became fascinated by crystals of all sorts not too long ago and developed a sensitivity to the energy they stimulate. A Hawaii native, she migrated east to earn two degrees from Harvard University, and then returned to her old high school. Kari’s intent was to become a school counselor, but her former dean encouraged her to spend a few years teaching first.

“Gaining a taste of being with students on a daily basis, I found my home,” Kari told me. “I was a teacher for 25 years, a career that gifted me a deeper understanding of the importance and value of story. I went from teaching a subject to discovering personal and universal truths through the sharing of our lived experiences.”

“How did you transition from that career to where you are now?” I asked.

”The pivotal decision in my life was moving to Los Angeles in 2006 and attending massage school. There I learned about the relationship between my spirit, my emotions and my physical body — simply put — our bodies tell our stories. Our biology is our biography. As a massage therapist I learned how our bodies reflect our stories and our life experiences. My further studies in cranial sacral unwinding along with Jorei and Reiki, both traditional Japanese energy healing practices, I learned to acknowledge and honor the energies of people’s stories and to hold space for the energies to unfold and unwind. I became a subscriber to the understanding that everything is energy and our choices determine how our energy is expressed. I took what I learned and adapted it for the middle and high schoolers I taught.”

“I loved it,” she continued. “Everything in my life seemed to have led me to do what I was doing. The school offered me the opportunity to work part-time with a couple of classes in the morning. That really opened the door to possibility. I found a retail location in Westwood and set up shop. It was wonderful. I sat in circle in the mornings with my students and sat in my crystal sanctuary in the afternoons. The Westwood location didn’t provide sustaining sales, but it did offer experience, community, and yes, the sharing of more stories! People were coming in and sharing their lives with me, and I shared mine with them. The combination of these two worlds felt magical.”

“And what brought you to my corner of the world?” I asked.

“I decided to make a move to a location that would offer me more exposure. I knew I wanted to be in Santa Monica, but didn’t know where. I was driving by one day and saw a sign on the building. I felt that my shop would complement what was already there. I moved in March last year on a Wednesday and the following Monday we had to close down due to the Safer-At-Home order.”

“I was granted the gift of time to set up and nurture the energy that I wanted to share with the public. By the time we opened our doors in July 2020 and people felt comfortable going out again, the shop felt good. It felt ready to be shared. The best advice I received in preparing to open was from my wife: ‘Nurture the consciousness of the shop. Everything else will fall in place.’ And that’s what I did and continue to do every day. I ask to be grounded in love, gratitude and service — to tune in to the energy of the shop and go from there.”

“And the crystals?”

“They, too, hold and tell stories. They are a vibrational expression of what happened millions of years ago. The wisdom they offer is nature’s gift to us. Some people are attuned to their energy, some simply love their beauty. Whichever the case, there is a shared experience. Crystals assist us in returning to our natural state of love and well-being,” Kari explained.

Sensing a bit of skepticism in my manner, she added, “I have a friend, a scientist, who isn’t a believer in the metaphysical aspect of crystals. She had surgery and a mutual friend suggested using crystals as part of her rehab. She accepted my offer of a pairing of two crystals. Although she wouldn’t outright admit that the crystals played a part in her recovery, she did say that she noticed feeling better. Buy in or not, at the end of the day, the laws of nature will govern the flow of energy.”

Over the course of several months I offered Kari some advice on lighting and display fixtures — design and lighting was my profession until I retired. We collaborated and it has been a most satisfying experience for both of us.

Kari added, “My community continues to expand and stories continue to be shared. It’s been an absolute joy getting to know the neighborhood personalities and learning their histories, especially you, Tim. And thanks to your creativity and expertise in lighting and design, the shop is beautifully illuminated and the crystals are uniquely displayed. I know the light that helps to show their beauty will ultimately expand the reach of the crystals’ stories and help people be with their own.”

KM Crystals Shop is located at 3006 Lincoln Boulevard, Santa Monica, 310-775-1285, kmcrystalshop.com