1975-1979: Declining population
Within six months of arriving in Hawaii, Ninth Minister Tanaka Kodo became the resident minister of Hakalau church in October 1975. In the climate of declining population in Hakalau, he continued teaching Japanese language school for a small number of students, starting Japanese language class for adults and Karate class. He put in tremendous effort in the church. However, he resigned on August 15th, 1979, and returned home to Japan. He changed his last name to Nagai and moved to the Shinkyoji temple in Tottori city.
1979-1996: Dwindling membership and activities focused on home visits and administrative work.
Tamura Hakushi arrived in Hawaii on August 15, 1979, on the day former Minister Tanaka resigned, and was appointed as the Tenth Minister and took office on August 17 of that year.
In the environment of dwindling church as the only base of activity, similar to the experienc of Pu’unene in Maui, Minister Tamura made home visits for missionary work and took care of administrative work of Hamakua Jodo Mission. His sincere effort is notable.
Rev. Tamura wrote the history of the mission from the first minister through his time as the tenth minister. During this time, he writes of a bleak situation:
Unfortunately our future is not the brightest due to the lack of creative actions taken immediately following the closedown of Sugar Cane Plantation a dozen years ago, even though there were many understandable reasons why the actions were not taken at that time.
Hakalau Upper Camp circa 1982-1985
Rev. Tamura describes Hakalau Upper Camp during this period depicted in the map above. He concluded that it must reflect the period of 1982-1985.
O.K. about Hakalau camp. I don’t remember much but Hilo side of the church were empty lot which became like jungle, then cane field all the way till Hakalau intersection.
There were several houses between the church and manager’s house, which means Hamakua side of the church. One house across Hakalau Post Office, right corner of the road goes up to the church, Hawaiian man named Sam was there alone. One Japanese old lady named Sugino lived few lots(?) above Sam’s. I noticed several houses in the area but no one was there. Houses were demolishing.
The church road went up till the ditch behind the church, then went right side. There was a big jackfruit tree at the corner of the road. Hamakua side of the road became jungle, many tangerine trees, banana trees and other fruits trees. Which means once people lived there and planted fruits trees but they moved out from there and the place became jungle. A Japanese lady lived in the jungle named Kaneshiro, she moved to Pepeekeo later.
The road went in to the jungle toward manager’s house and there was a Japanese family house. Sugino family, they moved to Pepeekeo. His name was Shunichi “Wimpy” Sugino. One Sugino noticed earlier was Wimpy’s mom. In my memory, if I’m not wrong, Wimpy was the last one moved out from there, or Hawaiian Sam.
There were some houses below the post office. Portuguese family and Philippine family.
I don’t know how many houses were there. A Japanese lady named Tabata was there, if I’m not mistaken. She also moved to Pepeekeo.
A list of Hakalau Jodo Mission members from the late 1980s describes the membership remaining in this time. It includes 80 persons, but, with wives included, probably represents about 140 members. They were elderly--about 72% were age 65+ and about 28% were 80+. The majority were living outside of Hakalau: Hilo (37%), Pepeekeo ( 33%), Hakalau (26%).