Last Kahuku bon dance slated


By Mike Foley, April 15, 2009

The Kahuku Bon Dance, an annual summer tradition for decades, is coming to an end with its final celebration this year on Saturday, July 25, 2009. An aging and dwindling church membership with no younger replacements is the cause for the decision to shut down the temple.

The Kahuku Buddhist Temple celebrated its 100 anniversary in 2004 with Governor Lingle and then-Mayor Harris in attendance along with high temple officials from its headquarters in Honolulu.

Nine years ago, at the urging of its Senior Class President Raymond ‘Buddy’ Ako (current Kahuku resident), the KHS alumni of the Class of ’56 decided to lend a hand to support the bon dance which was beginning to feel the pangs of age. At about the same time, the President of the temple membership, (former KHS school teacher), lamented to fellow golfer (KHS Class of ’56 Future Farmers of America President) that his elderly fellow members were having a difficult time in erecting the bon dance tower, around which the celebrants danced. Renin promised the help of his classmates and a near decade long association was forged.

The following year, KHS Class of ’56 Senior Class Vice President Douglas Nakaahiki (current Hauula resident) made a proposal to build a new tower, with lighter materials and designed for easier assemblage.  Mr. Kunimitsu and his fellow members accepted Douggie’s offer and a new tower greeted the dancers that year

Alumni from the Junior and Sophomore classes to the Class of ’56 (Classes of ’57 and ’58) followed their lead and took the initiative to volunteer to take over the food concession from the grateful ladies of the temple. The situation was a win-win since the two KHS alumni classes were thus able to raise funds for reunion activities, and the temple ladies (headed by President Mrs. Nancy Kunimitu, former KHS Home Ec teacher) received funds for their activities without having to work so hard. Bon dance attendees were also delighted when the menu was expanded from the previous limited fare of just hot dogs and saimin to include various plate lunches, barbecue sticks, spam musubi and other local fare.

The majority of the KHS alumni are not members of the Buddhist temple. Their aim, they all agree, is “to give back to the community.”

This year, with an expected larger group of former Kahukuans, an all-KHS alumni luncheon is planned the day after the bon dance, on Sunday, July 26th at the Kahuku Community Center (former Sugar Plantation office). The planners request that you bring old Kahuku memorabilia and talk story about the ‘good ole days’.

The Luncheon, a catered affair, will cost $15 per person and is scheduled for 1 to 5 pm. To RSVP, contact either Joan Sato (Class of ’57) at (808) 486-1857 or or <b (Class of ’57) at (808) 293-8036 or

To optimize attendance at both these events, the organizers are requesting that the abovementioned information be forwarded to anyone who may be interested in attending the last bon dance of the Kahuku Buddhist Temple or the all Kahuku luncheon.

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