HANAPEPE — Several hundred people filled the lawn of the Hanapepe Soto Zen Temple Thursday to celebrate the International Day of Peace by helping fourth-grade students from Eleele School.
Principal Paul Zina said the peace day gathering was an opportunity for the school to break from traditional classroom training.
“This was the students’ idea,” Zina said. “They traditionally take a short journey to learn in a place that many have never been. For many, they may never go back to that place again. The students wanted to use this moving experience to help raise funds for their trip to the Big Island while asking what can we do to promote world peace.”
Gerald Hirata, president of the Kauai Soto Zen Temple, said the students had embarked on a journey to create 1,000 paper cranes, many with their personal wishes for peace penned on paper.
Thursday morning, the cranes were brought to the World Peace Kannon statue and strung up for the observance following a visit to the Peace Garden at the Storybook Theatre of Hawaii.
Hirata said following the first Peace Day observance four years ago he welcomes expansion, and this year students and Family and Friends of Agriculture joined the ceremonies, which featured performances from Taiko Kauai and a hula from Eleele School alumnus Jayna Shaffer of Ka Lei Mokihana O Leina‘ala.
Senate President Ron Kouchi did not have a shortage of help in folding a paper crane, noting that words penned by the Rev. Koichi Miyoshi in a 1991 program booklet are still relevant today: “The world is involved with all kinds of problems.”
“Peace begins inside each and every one,” Kouchi said, quoting Miyoshi. “Peace begins with me. I will treat everyone with dignity.”
Those words echoed those of the Rev. Tomo Hojo of the West Kauai Hongwanji Mission, Hanapepe Temple, who officiated the short service that preceded food, fun and entertainment.
“We realize that world peace begins with each one of us,” Hojo said. “In the spirit of oneness, we gather to make our small attempt to nurture peace and harmony in ourselves and the world.”