Some time ago, uncle Dick of Anahola taught me the first Japanese immigrant rest in the graveyard of Koolau Protestant Church. Then he continued to tell me he remembered one of Japanese Royal princes visited the site when the prince came to Kauai a few decades ago. This was very interesting because I knew the year of 2018 would be the 150th Anniversary since the first Japanese group called "Gannenmono" arrived in Hawaii. I never knew there was Gannenmono rest here on this island. I wanted to find out the exact location of gravestone and wanted to offer my prayer.
Uncle Dick actually offered to take me to the site next time when I go to have a graveyard service at Anahola. But I couldn't wait "next time" in June and whenever I went to the North, I stopped by at the graveyard to look for the stone. The graveyard was not so big and I thought I could find it easily. However some characters were hard to tell because of the green moss stick to the stones. I took time to look at all gravestones at least three times but couldn't find it until uncle Dick led me to the site yesterday.
Because of my experiences I couldn't find it by myself, I was super curious about the location I missed to reach. As soon as Uncle Dick and family arrived at the parking space of the grave, I saw uncle walked to the direction I never expected. That was completely opposite direction of the Japanese gravestones. The area was for the Christians. Then he stopped at the stone which contained the sign of Holy Cross!
What? I knew I was familiar with this stone. I remember I passed this stone but the stone was for Christian. Uncle Dick told me, "Sensei, this is the stone. When I first visited here, the stone was laid down. But now it looks somebody fixed it."
The stone says "Beloved Grandfather Arai Bunto - 1844- Sept.19, 1925 - The First Japanese Immigrant to Hawaii Arrived 1868." You cannot imagine how I was happy to reach this stone finally. Because I looked at all stones at least three times, I remember this stone as "Beloved Grandfather" with Holy Cross. But I was so preoccupied with a thought that the first Japanese immigrant was Buddhist, my consciousness couldn't read all the characters of the stone. At a glance of holy cross, I never thought this was for the first Japanese immigrant to Hawaii.
Needless to say, nobody actually told me the first Japanese group were Buddhists. I just had a bias or preconceived idea from the beginning. I just imagined the first Japanese immigrant should have a Japanese style gravestone and he must be a Buddhist. But these wall of my prejudices actually prevented me to find a stone. Because I had such a strong preconceived image of the first Japanese immigrant, I missed to look at the truth.
This became another great experience for me to realize how open mind is important to see the truth. We think we always see the truth. But the truth is not always visible if we have prejudices or bias or preconceived ideas. Of course, sometimes knowledge can be helpful to find the truth but at the same time, knowledge can be obstacle too if we depend on it too much. So if we seek for the truth, we should be away from any prejudices, biases and preconceived ideas. Need to open toward the truth because the truth is beyond any judgment.