Pahoa Buddhist association starts packing up ahead of lava threat

Pahoa Buddhist association starts packing up ahead of lava threat

PAHOA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - It was just a year ago that the Pahoa Nikkei Jin Kai celebrated its 50th anniversary. But now, it's getting out of the way in case the June 27th lava flow reaches Pahoa town.

Members of the longtime Japanese community Buddhist association were busy packing things up Sunday, after some advisers who've lived in Puna all their lives decided that he lava flow is too close for comfort.

"They suggested that we move early, get things out ahead of time just in case, so we won't get tied up at the last minute," said Nikkei Jin Kai president Craig Shimoda.

Wooden folding tables were carried out of the Pahoa YBA Hall and into waiting picking trucks, while inside, others were putting utensils, bowls and other materials into boxes, where they will be taken to another Buddhist temple in Keaau.

The most valuable item is the Butsudan, or Buddhist altar, which arrived in Pahoa from Japan in 1931. It's usually at the center of services that are held at he YBA Hall once a month.

"The Butsudan and some of our other machinery and things we use to make mochi, we're moving to one of our member's houses in Paradise Park, so things will be out of the danger zone, but will be accessible to us when we need them," said Shimoda.

According to Hawaii County Civil Defense, the leading edge of the flow had moved forward 150 yards from Saturday, a little slower than before. It was just two-tenths of a mile from the Wao Kele Forest Reserve and Kaohe Homesteads boundary.

Officials have said it is still not an immediate threat to communities. But Nikkei Jin Kai members are still preparing, taking what they can and hoping for the best.

"I guess everybody is probably going to save some things at their house," said member June Toma Kiyabu.

"We're hoping the lava won't come where, but we have to be prepared."

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