Rev. Bert Sumikawa Helps Descendants Honor Ancestors at the Bellows Japanese Cemetery

Gregg K. Kakesako
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald

This year, obon — the 500-year-old Japanese Buddhist custom honoring ancestors’ spirits — will deepen Ann Nakata’s connection with her family roots. Just two months ago, 72-year-old Nakata, a retired Kapahulu florist, discovered she had two aunts and an uncle who died over a century ago.

Her quest to learn more about her three relatives started when she learned that they might be buried at a haka, or grave, at the Bellows Japanese Cemetery located on Bellows Air Force Station in Waimänalo.

It began with an article Ann saw in an East Honolulu shopper about an obon service held by Rev. Bert Sumikawa. About a dozen members of his Windward Buddhist Temple attended the memorial service to honor 50 Japanese immigrant ancestors buried at the Windward O‘ahu graveyard. It was probably the first memorial service held there in about a decade.

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