City officials held a dedication ceremony Monday for a monkeypod tree that was planted in place of a banyan removed at Moiliili Triangle two months ago.
An ailing, century-old Chinese banyan, was removed in early August after several limbs had fallen from it due to a twig borer pest infestation, according to city officials, creating a public safety hazard. The banyan tree was originally dedicated to Kihachi and Shika Kashiwabara, the first Japanese immigrants to settle in the area.
Patti Kashiwabara, great granddaughter of Kihachi and Shika Kashiwabara, placed lei around a plaque in the shadow of the new monkeypod tree dedicated to the Kashiwabaras, the first Japanese immigrants to settle in Moiliili. The Kashiwabaras were plantation workers from Japan who later founded Hawaii’s first sumo dojo and a Japanese language school in the community.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell, who spoke at the tree dedication ceremony, greeted Ethel Uchida. Uchida is a granddaughter of Kihachi and Shika Kashiwabara, the first Japanese immigrants to settle in the Moiliili area.
Members of the Kashiwabara family representing several generations were in attendance, including the great-great-great-grandchildren of Kihachi and Shika.
It was like a family reunion for several generations of the Kashiwabara family, including the great-great-great grandchildren of Kihachi and Shika, as they admired the monkeypod where South King and Beretania streets meet University Avenue.
Misty Kelai, executive director of the Office of Culture and the Arts, performed a traditional Hawaiian blessing. She asked the family members to dip their hands in the water.
Holding the water is Jeanne Ishikawa, deputy director of the Dept. of Parks and Recreation.
Helen Kashiwabara and her son, Ben, wait for Mayor Kirk Caldwell at the tree dedication ceremony.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell greets Helen Kashiwabara, a granddaughter of Kihachi and Shika Kashiwabara. “We wanted to plant a tree that would thrive and tell the story of the Kashiwabaras,” said Caldwell. “Therefore we planted monkey pod because they do thrive in this community, and it’s going to provide incredible amounts of shade for people to gather under, to reflect and to tell the story.”