Compelled by Japan tragedy, local man launches mercy mission

Kirby Fukunaga
Kirby Fukunaga

By Brooks Baehr - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The tragedy in Japan is tugging on heart strings. The pull is so strong for a Kaimuki man he's loading up on supplies and heading to the disaster zone.

Kirby Fukunaga, a fourth generation Japanese American, is so moved by what has happened he will leave Monday on a one man mission of mercy.

"I'm going to fly in to Osaka and we're going to start making our way up, picking up supplies on our way up because there's no supplies up on the top (Northern Honshu) where it happened. They need batteries and like gas and stuff so I'm going to take up as many things as I can," Fukunaga told Hawaii News Now.

Fukunaga works in the surf industry as a photographer, publisher, web master, and surfer. Much of his work is geared toward the Japanese market.

"I have relatives there and I have a lot of friends and family that is there right now," he said.

Those friends and family have shared stories of personal loss. And Fukunaga has seen seemingly endless images on television of entire communities demolished. He could not sit idle any longer.

"I've been there so many times. I've been to these places, and just to imagine, wow, what if that happened to Hawaii? What if a tsunami came and wiped out this whole South Shore?" he said looking toward Waikiki. "What are we going to do here? It made me feel like, it's about time I just get up and do something," Fukunaga explained.

Fukunaga will fly from Honolulu to Osaka. Once there he will meet friends, pick up the three vans he has arranged, fill them with supplies and drive north toward the hardest hit communities.

"They said they need batteries. They need underpants, socks, jackets, warm clothes, gas, you know for the grills because they have any electricity. So I'm just going to try load that up. And what I want to mostly do is just to be there for them to show them that we care," he added.

Fukunaga has been selling t-shirts to help raise money for supplies. So far he has generated about $15,000 through sales and donations.

Information about the shirts and communications from Japan can be found on Fukunaga's web site,

When asked what he expects to find when he arrives he said, "I don't know. I'm scared. I'm afraid of the radiation. That's what I'm afraid of. I mean I see the images on the news. I know it's a lot worse than that."

After dropping off supplies, Fukunaga plans to stay at least a couple weeks helping any way he can.

"I just want to help. I don't know what I can do, but I just want to help," he concluded.

Fukunaga will be taking of pictures of his experience and sharing them with Hawaii News Now which will update you on his mission of mercy.

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