Karleen C. Chinen
The Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii inducted its 45th “class” of “Living Treasures of Hawai‘i” on Feb. 8 at a sold-out luncheon banquet in the Coral Ballroom of the Hilton Hawaiian Village. The induction of the four — singer/composer/musician and kumu hula (hula teacher) Robert Cazimero, Hawaiian language pioneer Dr. Larry Kimura, Hawaiian culture teacher and kumu hula Carolee Nishi and sumie brush painting teacher Sachie Saigusa — brings the total number of Hongwanji “Living Treasures” to 231.
The Living Treasures Program was established in 1976 by the Rev. Yoshiaki Fujitani, then-bishop of the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii, at the suggestion of insurance executive Paul Yamanaka. The award was aimed at recognizing Hawai‘i residents for their sustained contributions to enriching the community and was patterned after Japan’s Living National Treasure program. The first Living Treasures of Hawai‘i award was presented to Hawaiian scholar, historian and cultural practitioner Charles Kenn in a simple ceremony in 1976.