Members of the Kuakini Auxiliary and Kuakini Health System’s administration team honored former Issei residents of Kuakini Home at a memorial ceremony on May 28. The service was held at the Kuakini Columbarium at the Honolulu Memorial Park in Nu‘uanu in conjunction with the obon season.
Most of the 141 Issei interred in the columbarium worked on sugar plantations during the late 1800s. Because they had no family members who could help care for them after retiring, they lived in the Japanese Home of Hawaii, now called Kuakini Home. The facility is a residential care home under Kuakini Geriatric Care, Inc., a nonprofit subsidiary of Kuakini Health Systems.
The Rev. Takamasa Yamamura, head minister of Honolulu Myohoji Temple, conducted the memorial service, succeeding the late Bishop Ryokan Ara of Tendai Mission. Bishop Ara had performed the annual service since 1997.
“This [Kuakini] Auxiliary project is a good example of Kuakini practicing what it preaches, which is ‘caring is our tradition (Kuakini’s slogan),’” noted Jinny Okubo, chair of Kuakini Auxiliary’s Memorial Project Committee in a press release. The auxiliary has organized the annual memorial service for 58 years.
Herbert Montegue Richards Sr., former president of the Honolulu Memorial Park, donated the plot to Kuakini in 1960 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the first Japanese contract immigrant workers in Hawai‘i in 1885. Sam Sasano of Stonecraft Memorial donated the columbarium.
The Kuakini Auxiliary is a volunteer organization with over 300 members. It was established in 1889 as the Women’s Benevolent Society to help serve the needs of Kuakini’s patients. The organization provides service and support to Kuakini’s patients and residents, their families and the Kuakini staff.