All touched by Junkoh

When Alex Harui began his tribute to his father last Saturday in the jam-packed gymnasium at Sakai Intermediate School, he said: “No doubt you are here because, in some way, Junkoh touched your lives...” Yes, no doubt.

It took nearly two hours for all of the estimated 2,000 people to fill the large gym, the early-birds claiming the folding chairs and the late arrivals lining the walls several people deep – others spilling out into the side of the building when a door was opened to provide fresh air. All of them were in attendance to say goodbye to a man who, in many ways, symbolized much of what’s meaningful on this island.

Tears and laughter filled the memorial service as family and friends shared their memories of a beloved man who, above all, seemed to understand the fragile relationship between humans and Earth’s beguiling environment. His secret? Everyone knew, so it’s really no secret. He was “one with nature,” and possessed the unique gift of inner peace with his surroundings.

“He loved being around people, yes, even more than the trees and plants,” said Alex. “...His success was based on how many people loved him. Thanks, Pop, and rest in peace knowing that all our lives were better for having known you.”

Here’s a glimpse into Junkoh’s belief system in the form of one of the many articles he enjoyed writing for Town and Country Florist and Nursery’s newsletter. It was read during the memorial service by his daughter, Sandra. “Garden Nostalgia: Nature – The Medicinal Cure,” was published in 1985:

“I read somewhere that ‘you’ are a part of everyone you meet.

“Personally I can think of many people in my life that were influential. There is my wife, my children, friends, teachers, fellow business persons, customers and on and on…

“Like many of us, however, I can safely say that my parents were probably the most influential. Besides the customary tutoring of such things as honor, respect, honesty, cleanliness, manners... my parents taught me one of the greatest lessons in the world: How to assimilate with nature.

“Nature, after all, is the whole basis for life.

“Everything evolves from plant life and its treasures are bountiful. Nature provides food, air, clothes, housing, etc. But more than that, it offers those refined things in life. Besides displaying its beauty and serenity, nature offers an almost medicinal cure towards mental peace and tranquility. A visit with nature is a visit in heaven.

“This is what my parents instilled in me in their quiet way. It was taught not so much with words, but by example and by everyday involvement with the sanctity of nature.

“Throughout most of their lives my parents were economically poor due to disruptive and traumatic occurrences. But they were genuinely rich because they were truly the salt of the earth and the guardians of nature.”

And, as Larry Nakata said Saturday in tribute to his old friend, “We hear you have been chosen to re-landscape the heavenly gates.”

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