Kuakini Memorial Service Honors Early Issei

Kuakini Memorial Service Honors Early Issei

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One hundred forty-one former residents of Kuakini Home were remembered at a memorial service organized and attended by Kuakini Auxiliary members and Kuakini Health System leadership. The service for the former sugar plantation workers, all of them Issei, was held May 30 at the Kuakini Columbarium at Honolulu Memorial Park Cemetery in Nu‘uanu. The Buddhist service was also held in conjunction with the start of the Japanese obon season, when the spirits of the deceased return to the world of the living to visit their families. The service was led by Bishop Ryokan Ara of Tendai Mission of Hawai‘i and the Rev. Ryodo Ishida and attended by Kuakini Health System president/CEO Gary Kajiwara and Kuakini Auxiliary members.

The 400-member Kuakini Auxiliary has worked with Tendai Mission in organizing the annual service since 1997. Kuakini employees and auxiliary members decorate the columbarium with flowers.
In 1960, Monte Richards Sr. of Honolulu Memorial Park donated the plot to Kuakini to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the first kanyaku imin, or Japanese contract immigrants, in Hawai‘i. Sam Sasano of Stonecraft Memorial donated the columbarium. The urns of the deceased residents had previously been held in the chapel of Kuakini Home. The remains of the last Kuakini Home resident was interred in the columbarium in May 1990.

Kuakini Hospital opened the Japanese Home of Hawaii in 1932 to provide a home for those retired immigrants who did not have families in Hawai‘i to care for them. The facility, which was located behind the hospital, was later renamed Kuakini Home.

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