Lili`uokalani, Queen of Hawai`i, passed away on 11 November 1917.
Because she was compassionate toward Japanese immigrant subjects of the Kingdom, because she attended a Hongwanji service in May of 1901, because she maintained a connection to Hilo throughout her life, and because Buddhist practice marks the 100th year a year earlier than Western practice, a 100th Memorial Service was held Sunday, October 30, at Honpa Hongwanji Hilo Betsuin on Kilauea Avenue.
Ten months in planning, the memorial service Sunday was given by Rimban Jeffrey Soga. Emcee and planning committee chairperson was Barbara Fujimoto, who is active in the Buddhist Women’s Association. Ho`okani ka pu, the opening conch shell and chant by Kumu Kaho`okele Crabbe blended with kansho, the Buddhist temple bell ringing as 293 participants inside the temple rose in honor of the entrance of family descendants Keawe and Kaimi Keohokalole with the Royal Order of Kamehameha the First, Mamalahoa Chapter, `Ahahui Kaahumanu Helu `Ekolu, and Hale `O Na Ali`i `O Hawai`i.
Special guests for the gathering included former First Lady of Hawai`i, Jean Ariyoshi, who spearheaded a movement to restore Washington Place, the Queen’s home that served as the Governor’s residence to several Hawaii leaders. The book Washington Place: A First Lady’s Story, published in 2004 by Belknap Publishing and Deign for the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, documents the story.
Mrs. Ariyoshi and her husband former Governor George Ariyoshi also are deeply involved with Urasenke and helped bring the practice of tea to Hawaii in the 1970s. Tea houses are located on the campus of the University of Hawaii-Manoa behind the East-West Center, in Kepaniwai Park on Maui, and in Lili`uokalani Gardens in Hilo.
Accompanying Mrs. Ariyoshi were Russ Oda, president, and Art Taniguchi, vice president, of Urasenke Society of Hilo.
Bishop Eric Matsumoto offered a dharma message on the Queen’s life and dedication to peace, compassion and wisdom.
A “surprise” visit to the memorial service by the Queen, in the person of Jackie Pualani Johnson of UH-Hilo theatre department, brought the Queen’s recollections of the early 1900s to life.
The memorial service was followed by refreshments in Sangha Hall, based on the menu of the 1901 service the Queen attended. Displays were offered there from Lili`uokalani Trust, Friends of `Iolani Palace, Nelson Makua and Na Makua Designs, and Friends of Lili`uokalani Gardens.
The Buddhist memorial service marks the beginning of a year of centennial events for Hilo’s treasured cultural landscape, Lili`uokalani Gardens, a 24-acre public garden on Banyan Drive.
For further information and to help, contact Friends of Lili`uokalani Gardens by email to email@example.com or phone (808) 895-8130.