Members of the Kuakini Medical Center Auxiliary and the Kuakini Health System administration gathered at Honolulu Memorial Park in Nu‘uanu on May 29 to honor the memory of the Gannenmono, who arrived in Hawai‘i in 1868, and the 141 Issei who once resided at what was originally the Japanese Home of Hawaii.
They offered prayers and flowers during the Buddhist ceremony led by Bishop Ryokan Ara and the Rev. Ryodo Ishida from Tendai Mission of Hawaii at the Kuakini columbarium. Bishop Ara has performed the ceremony for the former Japanese Home residents during the Buddhist obon season every year since 1997. Those Issei worked on Hawai‘i’s sugar plantations during the late 1800s and early 1900s and did not have relatives to care for them in the final years of their lives. Thus they lived in and were cared for at the Japanese Home of Hawaii, which had opened in 1932.
Today, the facility is known as Kuakini Home. It is a service of Kuakini Geriatric Care, Inc., a nonprofit subsidiary of Kuakini Health System.
The Kuakini Auxiliary organizes the ceremony annually. The plot was donated by Monte Richards Sr. to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the Kanyaku Imin contract immigrants, who began arriving in Hawai‘i in 1885. Sam Sasano of Stonecraft Memorial donated the columbarium. Prior to the construction of the columbarium, the urns of the deceased residents were held in the Kuakini Home chapel at Kuakini Hospital.
“The Japanese immigrants are one of the reasons why Kuakini originated. There was a need. And so it is definitely a part of the history of Kuakini,” said Jinny Okubo, who chairs the Kuakini Auxiliary Memorial Project Committee.
The Kuakini Auxiliary is a volunteer organization with over 300 members that supports and provides service to Kuakini Health System.