Part 2: Kainaliu Area
Daifukuji Soto Mission
This Buddhist Temple has served the Mauka Kona community as a site for worship and retreat since opening on May 27, 1921. Reverend Kaiseki Kodama, who, since founding the first Kona Soto Mission in 1914, for years had held services at Hanato Store and other sites, planned the original mission building which was designed and built by Yoshisuki Sasakai. Reverend Hosokawa opened a Japanese Language School here in 1926; the school, living quarters and social hall all enlarged upon the original structure. The traditional Japanese music and dance-filled O Bon Festival is held here each July; visitors are welcome.
Lanakila Church/Kaona Uprising
Lanakila Church was the beginning and focal point for one of the strangest and more interesting episodes in Mauka Kona history during the latter half of the 19th century. This, the last church built by the ubiquitous Reverend John D. Paris, was finished in 1867. Lanakila Church is still today a vibrantly strong, active parish of Congregationalists. The quiet country setting of this church gives little indication that it was in the center of a violent, deadly uprising in the late 1860s.
Called the Kaona Uprising, the events of 1867and 1868 comprised a perhaps natural reaction of the native Hawaiians to having been so recently, and completely, dispossessed of their way of life, their naturist religion, and their ancient traditions. The uprising started peaceably enough; in 1867, a man named Kaona introduced himself to the Reverend Paris, saying he had a great quantity of Hawaiian Bibles he wished to distribute and asked permission to store them in the as-yet-unfinished Lanakila Church building. The Church elders assented and the Bibles were stored.
However, Kaona and his followers tried to usurp the church building and its land for living space and at the pleas of Reverend Paris the Governor, Princess Ke’elikolani, eventually evicted them. Kaona moved his growing group of malcontents onto a neighbor’s property until rain and cold forced them to seek warmer lands down slope by the ocean.
Growing more powerful with each new cult member, Kaona resisted the efforts of the local law enforcement, in the person of Sheriff Neville, to evict them, reportedly spitting on and destroying the first eviction order. Preaching Hellfire and Brimstone, and aided considerably by a rash of large earthquakes early in 1868, Kaona convinced his followers that he was the only true Prophet of God and that the earthquakes would destroy all but his most loyal followers.
Sensing a mood of violence, Sheriff Neville determined to use force if necessary to evict Kaona and his band from their squatter’s camp. In the ensuing melee, Neville and one native policeman were killed. Kaona then whipped his band into a religious frenzy of blood lust, exhorting them to go forth, slay the white people, and set fire to their farms and homes. Such was the violence and threat that the South Kona Magistrate organized a volunteer militia to for the protection of citizens, but the uprising wasn’t put down until the Steamer Kilauea brought troops from Honolulu to round up the violent mob several days later.
Kaona was sentenced to twenty years imprisonment but was later pardoned and freed by King Kalakaua. He died a free man in Kona in 1883.
The Aloha Theater and its cafe serve as a gathering place for the community and the home of independent, classic, and second run films as well as the Hawaiian International Film Festival and various community events.
Construction of the Aloha Theater began in 1929 and was finished in 1932. Long before Hawaii was a state. Starting life as a silent movie theater, it survived the changeover to “talkies” as well as the great fire of 1948 that destroyed much of its side of town. Still in use today as a performing arts center by the Kona Association for the Performing Arts, performances feature live music and dance as well as film. The Quonset-hut shaped original theater building and the original marquee still in use are very typical of the style used in other theaters of this period in Hawaii.
The Aloha Angel Café associated with the theater offers a wide-ranging menu of entrees, baked goods, and desserts and is open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Lapping gently on either side of the Hawaii Belt Road, Kainaliu Town is one of the principle commercial centers of Mauka Kona. Kainaliu grew up at the intersection of two donkey tracks to service the sugar, coffee, and ranching industries, sometime after the construction of Lanakila Church in 1867.
The star attraction in Kainaliu is, by far, the Aloha Theater and Aloha Angel Café. This historic and beautiful theater is still the center for stage productions of all kinds as well as cinematic shows; it is the centerpiece for the Kona Association for the Performing Arts (KAPA). Another of the towns interesting attractions is the amazing Oshima Grocery and Dry Goods Store (“If we don’t have it, you don’t need it”). In addition, the town boasts numerous other businesses, galleries, furniture, thrift, herbal medicine shops, as well as several wonderful restaurants and coffee houses. Donkey Balls has a candy factory that offers fun tours and tasty samples and Captain Cook Coffee has a roasting house right in town that gives weekday tours. When the weather turns wet in West Hawaii, or you need a relief from the heat on the beach, a day spent browsing and eating in cool, shady Kainaliu is a real treat.
To celebrate the conclusion of our Historical Soirée, as long as you are in Kainaliu Town you really ought to stop in for a cup of famous Kona Coffee at any one of a number of local coffee shops—not the harsh sameness of the ubiquitously monotonous Starbucks, each individually special Kona coffee cafe reflects the personality of the local growers and roasters who produce Kona Coffee, widely held to be the best in all the world. Also, the singular and exclusive galleries and stores in Kainaliu makes perfect shopping for completely unique gifts to take home.
For more information on traveling to Hawaii in general or touring the Big Island in particular, visit tourguidehawaii.com , tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com , and lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com .
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