Posts Tagged With: tsunami

Clean the Pond

UPDATE: The next pond cleaning day is Saturday, March 17, from 8 a.m. to noon. The current tally on muck removed is 2,875 gallons.

Cleaning Waihonu, the pond at the heart of Lili`uokalani Gardens, is top of the maintenance priority list for Friends of Lili`uokalani Gardens. Starting in October 2016, Friends and volunteers under the direction of board member Alton Okinaka have removed more than 2,700 gallons of mud, muck, and debris.

The next volunteer day is Saturday, January 27, from 8 a.m. to noon. There also are land-based chores for those who do not want to get in the pond. Some protective gear (gloves, tabi) are provided. Participants are advised to wear gardening clothes and closed-toe shoes.

debris from demolished homes and businesses ended up in Waihonu during the 1960 tsunami along with tons of mud (photo from the Pacific Tsunami Museum collection on the wall at Coqui’s restaurant Tsunami Room)

The effort has concentrated on removing muck immediately adjacent to the stone edging the pond and three feet from the edge into the pond. This will better enable future mechanized cleaning of the entire pond without further damaging the stone edge.

University of Hawaii-Hilo students, Hilo Y’s Men, and Representative Chris Todd join in the pond cleaning effort where the mud is de-watered before hauling to a nearby farm

Also on the removal list is an invasive seaweed called gorilla ogo (Gracilaria salicornia). As the invasive is removed, native seaweed growth is restored.

Repair of the stone edge around the pond including restoration of a suhama (smooth stone beach) on the bay side goes hand in hand with pond remediation. Having a healthy pond is part of restoring the more desirable fish populations.

Fourth graders from a pond science class in Keaukaha form a bucket brigade to help remove mud

To volunteer for this or future garden work days, please refer to the Friends of Lili`uokalani Gardens page on Facebook or contact Alton Okinaka at or telephone (808) 383-4917.

More information on gorilla ogo is available here:

Friends of Lili`uokalani Gardens is a 501(c)(3) non-profit operating on a Memorandum of Understanding with the County of Hawaii Department of Parks & Recreation. Friends work to provide maintenance on special projects, raise funds for capital improvements, and plan events to celebrate the centennial of the gardens 2017-2019.


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Big pond project starts with bucket brigade

Waihonu, the pond at the heart of Lili`uokalani Gardens, will start getting a much needed cleaning Saturday, October 1, from 8 a.m. to noon.

Tsunami damage, bagasse from former sugar cane operations up the coast, invasive seaweed and normal silt have covered the floor of Waihonu.

Volunteers will gather at the Friends of Lili`uokalani Gardens tent near the tea house for instructions and to obtain tools. There also are land-based tasks for those not able to go in one of two shallow spring-fed ponds to the side of the larger pond.


To the Banyan Drive side of the pond are two small spring-fed ponds choked with invasive seaweed, silt and weeds. The nearby lava outcroppings are covered with bamboo leaves.


A previous cleaning effort uncovered a pahoehoe lava landing near the stone bridge


Harvey Tajiri piles seaweed up.


edging the sidewalk


many thanks to UH-Hilo softball coaches and team




Rotarian Wally Wong scoops seaweed out of the pond

Volunteers willing to go in the pond should come with protective foot gear. Some additional pairs of tabis and gloves will be available to borrow.

Additional chores on land include edging sidewalks, removing leaves from lava rock outcroppings, removing weeds from the stone bridge, and removing lichen from a rock bench.

For additional information or to volunteer for a future work day, contact Friends of Lili`uokalani Gardens board members Alton Okinaka at UH-Hilo 932-7117 or K.T. Cannon-Eger 895-8130.

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Home in Hilo – Lili`uokalani Gardens

Before we get on the plane — less than 24 hours from now — I’m getting in a little practice with this new skill. Plus I wanted to let friends know about the public Japanese garden in Hilo.

Lili`uokalani Gardens

The Isemoto Bridge and one of several stone lanterns donated by prefectures in Japan.
Photo by K.T. Cannon-Eger

This County park is more than 20 acres, including ocean-fed ponds, on the Banyan Drive peninsula overlooking Hilo Bay on the windward side of Hawaii Island. An incorrect 30 acre figure appears in many stories. Even when nearby park lands added to the County’s care by various Governor’s executive orders are totaled with Lili`uokalani Gardens [such as Mokuola (Coconut Island), Rakuen (Happiness Park) and Isles] the total comes to 24.6+ acres.

Mainly a stroll garden with a tea house, and several different kinds of paths, Lili`uokalani Gardens are free and open to the public all year long.

Land was set aside in the spring of 1917 and initial construction began in November 1917. The gardens were inundated by tsunami in 1918 and 1923. Great damage was done by the April 1, 1946 tidal wave and the gardens were rebuilt in 1949. They were destroyed again by the May 23, 1960 tsunami and rebuilt. In 1968, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Gannen-mono (first Japanese immigrants to arrive as sugar plantation laborers), 13 stone lanterns and two stone lion gates were donated by the governors of prefectures in Japan from which the immigrants came, adding to lanterns from the original garden that survived the major tsunamis.

In 1972 Urasenke Tea Ceremony Foundation of Kyoto donated a Japanese tea ceremony house, which was placed toward the center. It was destroyed by arson in 1994. A new tea house was built in 1997.

Landscape architect David Tamura notes “Shoroan, the teahouse in Lili`uokalaki Gardens was built in 1997, a gift from Dr. Soshitsu Zen, the 15th Grand Tea Master. The original teahouse, built in 1972, burned down in 1994. The original teahouse was located on the Lili`uokalani Gardens grounds on the Nihon Restaurant side of the park. The gardens of the first teahouse were designed and installed by Mr. Kazuo Nakamura, a notable Japanese Garden Landscape Architect and Landscape Contractor from Japan. Mr. Nakamura’s family has a long history of creating gardens in Kyoto, Japan. Mr. Nakamura came to the United States after World War II and settled in California, Honolulu and finally Hilo, creating gardens wherever he lived. Rock work was a specialty of Mr. Nakamura for which he is well remembered. He passed away in January 1986.”

One of Nakamura’s California gardens presently is threatened with sale by UCLA Regents. A California court issued an injunction delaying the sale of the Hannah Carter Japanese Garden in Bel Air.

Hannah Carter Japanese Garden

The Hannah Carter Japanese Garden in Bel Air bears the name of the donor of the garden to UCLA. This view is through the main gate, across the first flat stone bridge and up the walkway.

“The only salvageable items of the original¬† teahouse in Lili`uokalani Gardens were the rocks, walkways, a few plants and a pine tree,” Tamura said. “Many of these rock items were brought over from Japan to create the first teahouse garden. It was decided that the original rocks, walkways and water basin had to be relocated to the new teahouse site. The challenge was how to incorporate these elements in a garden setting that was quite different from the first. Mr. Fred Nonaka from Waimea on the Big Island volunteered for the new landscaping of Shoroan. With much experience in rock setting and landscaping, Mr. Nonaka was the right person to create the new garden using Mr. Nakamura’s concepts, spirit and ideals.”

Kazuo Nakamura  also designed and constructed the Bicentennial rock garden at Lili`uokalani Gardens and the nearby Rakuen (Happiness Gardens) behind the Suisan Fish Market.

Lili`uokalani Gardens’ massive 1999-2000 renovation project with ADA accessible perimeter walkway was designed by Hilo landscape architect Leonard Bisel and construction by Isemoto Contracting Company Ltd. Four Torii gates were erected at the cardinal compass points.

In 2011, Dennis Makishima stopped in Hilo to offer an aesthetic pruning workshop to County park maintenance personnel and UH Master Gardeners. A morning classroom lecture was followed by hands-on practice in the park.

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