A BIG ISLAND INTRODUCTION

By David W. Fukumoto, Founder & president, FUKU-BONSAI INC.

               ALOHA!  My family moved from Kaneohe on the Island of Oahu where I was born to the Big Island in 1973 to establish Fuku-Bonsai as Hawaii's first certified export nursery. At that time the population was less than 100,000 and the economy was largely dependant upon the declining sugar industry. Many were leaving for better opportunities.  This is the largest and least developed of the Hawaiian Islands and the special Hawaiian Spirit of Aloha of my youth still exists.

                There's a growing recognition that all of us are immigrants including the original Hawaiians who arrived in double hulled canoes over 1,000 years ago and the newest wave of wealthy refugees from Silicon Valley. We choose to live here in spite of high costs. Being at the end of the distribution chain, the cost of goods are high. There's a significant cost to get our export goods to our primary Continental U.S. markets. Why do we chose to live here?

UNIQUE MULTI-CULTURAL HARMONY & ACTIVISM!

                The Spirit of Aloha lives!  It's the spirit of rural America tempered with "Island Philosophy."  Being on an island, we'll meet and interact with the same people again and again. Many of us have deeply held convictions and earn a reputation over time.   Even when we disagree, there's courtesy and respect, as we work together on other issues.  We remember those who proved loyalty by shedding rivers of blood in World War II, who went to school on the GI Bill, and who came home to create a land of equal opportunity in the social revolution of 1954. We're proud to be Americans and remember the long fight for statehood and the celebration of 1959. And now we fight again as a tidal wave of materialism inundates other parts of Hawaii. For the love of Hawaii,  WAKE UP HAWAII!

                There has been exceptional progress. For example, in 2001, the Cherry Blossom (Japanese) Cultural Festival Queen was Catherine Toth, of Japanese, Hungarian, Dutch, German, and Portuguese ancestry and Miss Aloha Hula of the prestigious Merrie Monarch Festival was Tasha Oda.  Tasha is the latest of several with Japanese surnames. Catherine made news as the first Cherry Blossom Queen that did not have a Japanese surname although she wasn't the first "non-pure" Japanese who won the title. Remaining barriers are coming down.   The Big Island population is growing rapidly and has the greatest diversity of ethnic races. It doesn't want to be a "melting pot." Rather, it seeks to be like a tapestry of distinctive threads woven to create a beautiful result. 

                In 1984, Puna Sugar Company announced their closing and the entire community came together to form Business Expo seminars to consolidate resources and assist new businesses.   Today, Puna is a thriving community and the Small Business Center at the University of Hawaii at Hilo assists new businesses. ALL business owners and managers are EXPECTED to assist each other and work to benefit the community. This is an island in exciting economic transition. 

                We know if we allow our Big Island tourist industry to be developed only by out-of-state investors seeking maximum "return on investment," that the natural result will be another Waikiki.  The difference is the commitment and participation by the residents.  The Big Island leads the State in eco-tourism and is the only county with a clear bed-and-breakfast code.  The Fuku-Bonsai Promotional Partner Program is just one example to Big Islanders assisting each other and establishing peer standards.  All of us want to improve the economy, but we also want to preserve the best of the older ways and create a diverse and sustainable Big Island visitor industry.  This creates a win-win situation for both residents and visitors!

Snow on Mauna Kea.jpg (28159 bytes)

Mauna Kea floats above the clouds with observatories sitting on the first snow of the year. (Dec. 14, 2001)

 

THE BEAUTY OF OUR LAND!

                On our mini-continent during winter it's possible to ski on the slopes of 13,764' elevation Mauna Kea. That same afternoon you could be sun-bathing on clean warm white sand beaches or snorkeling and enjoying abundant colorful tropical fish in crystal clear water. This is the island of wide open vistas to allow your spirit to soar and to create unlimited dreams. Go from tropical lushness and rainforests to the higher cooler elevations where fireplaces give the ambiance of Big Sur or Carmel. Continue through pastures, then through recent barren lava flows, and to world-class Kohala resorts! 

                This is an island that believes that the "good old days" is NOW, and we are working hard to keep the best and to build the foundation for the BEST HAWAII of the future!

               The Big Island is larger than all other Hawaiian islands together. But in 45-minutes you can go from the city of Hilo to Volcanoes National Park. In another 30 minutes you can be past Pahala and be almost to Naalehu.  Half hour later you'll be nearing South Kona. Another half hour through the small towns of Honaunau, Captain Cook, Kealekekua and Kainaliu and you'll be in Kailua-Kona. Without stopping and driving at the posted speed limit, it will take 2.5 to 3 hours to go from Hilo to Kailua-Kona via the southern route through Volcano.

                The northern route along the Hamakua Coast through Kamuela down to Kawaihae and along the Gold Coast to Kailua-Kona can be 2 to 2.5 hours if you don't stop. The third route through the central Saddle Road takes about the same amount of time, but read carefully your rental car contract first as some companies prohibit utilizing this route because of the poor visibility in foggy weather and the number of accidents by those who don't know the road. For those who appreciate vast scenic vistas, this is the drive for you. Make arrangements for a bento (picnic box lunch), start early, stop often, and take a lot of photographs of a Hawaii that few people get to see! 

SLOW DOWN TO EXPERIENCE THE BIG ISLAND!

                It's possible to go around the island in one long day and perhaps that's okay for a first trip. The Big Island has the largest number of repeat visitors and the longest stays of any island. The Big Island also has the widest range of accommodations to fit every budget. Prices are reasonable and good values. The most costly and luxurious Kohala resorts also have the impressive repeat customer rates and even there, you get more than you pay for!  Others who aren't concerned about being pampered treasure the homely atmosphere of the more modest hotels. The Big Island has over 500 bed and breakfasts units of every description in every district and in every price range. Enjoy personal attention and learn to avoid tourist traps.

                You are cordially invited to visit the Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center and Hawaii State Bonsai Repository co-sponsored by Fuku-Bonsai Inc., a corporation of over 200 mostly Big Island stockholders, and the non-profit Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation. We maintain the most varied collection of artistic pot plants in the world, and here, there's no charge for learning bonsai.  We have free formal demonstration-workshops on the second Saturday of each month beginning about 9AM and will have staff available for private workshops if you'll call ahead.

                In the following sections, we'll share some of the special parts of the Big Island and will include links and photos to give you a better flavor. 

E KOMO MAI!   Welcome to the Big Island!

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Fuku-Bonsai Inc.    www.fukubonsai.com     e-mail:   sales@fukubonsai.com  Phone (808) 982-9880;  FAX (808) 982-9880     Installed April 2001
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               Fuku-Bonsai's BIG ISLAND website is a celebration of our home island only.  For more information about the entire HAWAII STATE:  www.hawaii.com  is THE site to visit.