The Big Island of Hawaii is losing its fight to be the best kept secret. Population is growing as more learn of our understated values. We judge the community by how it supports and assists the youngest and oldest residents and all businesses have a special aloha for our seniors.  So we welcomed the Honokaa Nutrition Club that came in two vans.  They got a guided tour and enjoyed the newly created "THE WORLD OF BONSAI ALOHA!  They got a preview of the new challenges being developed and Edison gave them a demonstration of the Introductory Workshop Package.  It was a great day!

               Fuku-Bonsai  is open from Monday to Saturday from 8AM to 4PM and is in all Big Island travel  guide books.  There is no admission fee and the public is invited.  We do not allow tour buses except by special prior arrangements of garden, bonsai or community groups.  In addition to seniors, we host school groups from pre-school to university level including international and neighbor island groups. 



               In 1973, we moved from Kaneohe on Oahu and were very fortunate to purchase the 12.11 acre Fuku-Bonsai property and later were able to purchase the adjoining 5.5 acre property for possible expansion.  In the ideal Puna area of the Big Island, land is relatively cheap compared to the remainder of Hawaii State and this is the fastest growing part of Hawaii.  But being a geologically young island,  much of the district is relatively rocky with the cheapest land being very rocky.

              Over 50 years ago, "worthless" land was being subdivided and sold very cheaply in Florida, Arizona, Hawaii, and other parts of the country and these are still the lowest priced land that is responsible for fueling the growth of the district. Most are in private subdivisions with private gravel roads that are maintained by the community associations.  Some such lots have electricity and water with others are on catchment.  Some are far from existing connections so it is unlikely that electricity and/or water will be available in the near future.

              Fuku-Bonsai is located in highly desirable Kurtistown located 10 miles from Hilo and 20 miles from Volcanoes National Park just off Olaa Road and Volcano Highway. It is on a County road that formerly was a sugar cane harvesting road.  Hawaii County has a huge inventory of such roads that it cannot maintain, but after petitioning for a number of years,  the County paved the access road to Fuku-Bonsai's driveway last year.  Electricity and County water is available.  It is effectively a dead-end road with only Fuku-Bonsai and two other properties accessed by it (including the parcel being offered for sale).

             Kurtistown has an uncommon history of being in a homestead area where ambitious families could obtain title to the land by clearing the virgin forest and planting sugar cane as independent cane growers while also working long hours for the sugar plantations.  Many of these families had a houselot on Volcano Highway as well as a 5 to 15 acre homestead parcel.  Fuku-Bonsai's 12.11 acre and the 5.5 acre parcel being offered for sale originated in these circumstances. 

            As a result,  the old-time Kurtistown community tends to have very different characteristics from other communities which originated as plantation villages or newer communities being created by those now moving into the Big Island from all parts of the United States and some foreign countries.  Those who are truly wealthy tend to purchase in West Hawaii where houselots and acreage are significantly more costly. Those who want city amenities tend to purchase in Hilo which is at lower elevation and significantly warmer. When the Fukumotos moved to the Big Island we carefully researched and our search centered around Kurtistown due to the social demographics and it's location between Hilo and Volcano which has the most convenient amenities and roads. But there were two other factors that finalized our search.       

      1.   At the 550' elevation,  the "mean soil temperature" is 72F!  This is considered ideal temperature to set air conditioning.  On the hottest day of the year, it may get up to 85F but be in the comfortable 70's in the shade.  On the coldest nights of the coldest days of the year, the low temperatures are in the mid-fifties but are in the 70's during the day.  No one in Kurtistown feels a need for air conditioning or interior heating!  It's very comfortable all year around and because it replicates interior temperatures where there is air conditioning or interior heating, this is the ideal location for growing houseplants and houseplant bonsai!

       2.  This is the premium lot in the "Kurtistown Kipuka"!   A kipuka is a region where lava has gone around for centuries to allow the soil to form and build up.  In the Puna district,  there are basically three types of soil:  a) Mostly rocky lava land that were once considered worthless, subdivided, and are the lowest cost parcels.  b) "Dirt-Rock Mix" has enough soil between the rocks to support growing sugar cane.  These vary and in the former sugar cane lands, the size of the rock piles where large boulders were deposited  tell you how rocky the land was.  With modern equipment,  the rock piles were buried in low spots to level off the land.  3)  Deep Soil Kipukas are relatively rare and in the best parcels, no rocks have ever surfaced and the proposed parcel is of this character.

              By the very nature of "kipukas",  these are low-lying parcels and most of them are subject to flooding,  especially those parcels that are on the edges of the kipuka that get water from the adjoining higher parcels that are either mostly rocky lava or those that are dirt-rock-mix.  The Fuku-Bonsai 12.11 acre parcel has some flooding and when we purchased it, we purchased it thinking it was 10 acres of premium kipuka deep soil land and the remainder "waste land."  The 5.5 acre being offered is just below the crest of a small hill and no water from adjoining properties enter and all water from that property drains into lower properties (including Fuku-Bonsai where a diversion ditch sends it into the wasteland area). 

             During my original 1973 search, I found two parcels that are choice in that they are located in such a manner that no water enters the property and water drains off in all directions.  At the time of my search, the owners (who were classmates of my in-laws) were not interested in selling.  Since then, the families contacted me and we negotiated and purchased the properties.  These premium properties are usually sold privately and do not appear as listed properties. 

             Although I have the property at $180,000 or best offer in a private sale,  I'd like to have the property go to a person who supports our efforts.  Ideally, the buyer should have enough wealth to also be a major equity investor as we move towards refinancing and expanding.  It would be ideal if the buyer could be in a situation whereby the property could be gifted to our sister 501(3)(c) Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation and receive the benefit of a tax-exemption for the donation. 

             If the person considering purchase has a deep interest in our form of bonsai and interested in becoming an equity investor as well as joining our successor team, it becomes more complicated, but may be doable if there is a personality fit.  In all cases, if interested in the property, please contact me for more information.  ~~~David W. Fukumoto (


*** Return to the April 2014 issue of the Journal of Tropical & True Indoor Bonsai
*** Go to the Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation website
*** Go to Fuku-Bonsai's Website
Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation and Fuku-Bonsai, 2014