Honpa Hongwanji contingency visits Honouliuli

Honouliuli Internment Camp, by National Park Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Source »

It was 8 a.m. in the morning when a group of Buddhist and Shinto priests boarded a bus which departed Honolulu headed for Leeward Oahu. At a predestination stop, one could see the wide expanse of land stretching out with Diamond Head in the distance. It was a breathtaking view. However, as they got back on the bus and headed down a valley the vista changed dramatically. There was no longer the view of the spacious plains nor the blue ocean. Only the walls of the valley.

It was Honouliuli, the site of a Hawaii internment camp. Through the generosity and thoughtfulness of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii (Carole Hayashino, CEO) a group of clergy including Bishop Eric Matsumoto, Rev. Tatsuo Muneto and Rev. Blayne Higa of Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii were granted the honor of seeing the site of (up until now) the little known Honouliuli Internment Camp. Today, through the efforts of JCCH and others, the site is registered as a national monument with the National Park System.

The group heard real-life accounts of people who were interred at Honouliuli along with photographs of the camp and drawings by individuals who were interred there. Unlike 70 years ago, fortunately, that day the mosquitos were not swarming.

The most visible remnants of the camp site area are pre-camp structures like the aqueduct and a stone wall which still remain today.

At the close of the visitation, a short ceremony in honor of Internees was held at which various individuals were asked to read actual quotes and comments of Internees and a short closing remembrance was offered by Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii.