Hauula resident and volunteer Kenzo Furukawa says it’s up to everyone to create their own space

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Photo by Sugarmaa Bataa

Hand-painted on the circular ceiling of the three-story house of Kenneth Kenzo Furukawa, a longtime member of the Hauula community, are these words in Hawaiian: “Do not forget to entertain strangers: for some have thus entertained angels without knowing it.” Words surround an angelic scene Furukawa says he decided to paint after seeing many majestic ceilings during his travels in Europe.

Furukawa said the house was called “Ku’u Home Me Na Anela O Nalani”, or “My Home with Heaven’s Angels”. He said transforming it into the structure it is today was a matter of prayer. More than 30 years after buying a tiny two-bedroom home, the interior of his three-story home now features a spiral staircase leading to ceiling art and the Hawaiian words of ho’okipa, or hospitality, painted and designed by Furukawa himself.

“I want kids to understand that you can. From an uncle who thought… that I couldn’t even live [his first paycheck], to get a house, I want them to know you can. Nothing is impossible.”


Looking up at a circular painting of two angels in the clouds, he painted himself.

Photo by Sugarmaa Bataa

Although he had no formal training in architecture or design, Furukawa said that whenever he went to a new place, he always considered what he would do to change it. When designing the changes for her own home, Furukawa shared, it was no different. He said he would stand in front of the sliding glass door to the deck and imagine how he wanted to change its structure.

When he first came to see the house, it was 42 years old, and Furukawa said it reminded him of his grandfather’s ranch house in Moloka’i. The ranch house was built in the old plank and batten style with old-fashioned windows, Furukawa said, which he said he liked, as well as the architecture and “beautiful things.”

Dotty Kelly-Paddock, one of Furukawa’s good friends and a full-time volunteer with the Hauula Community Association, said her friend was a kind soul with a big heart for her community. “Ken [Furukawa] cares very deeply about making things beautiful and beautiful. He always says that in our meetings [community association meetings]. He wants people to care about their community and how it looks. She said Furukawa frequently goes around the community offering to wash down any of her neighbors’ properties, including the walkway in front of 7-Eleven.

Furukawa added, “My philosophy is that no matter where you fit, ugly or otherwise, you create your space.” The son of a Hawaiian mother and a Japanese father, Furukawa said his parents named him after his father’s father, who died a month before Furukawa was born. “Kenzo,” Furukawa’s middle name, honors this grandfather and means “creative builder,” Furukawa explained.

It was this creative builder aspect of Furukawa’s personality that propelled his home improvement project. Three years after moving in, Furukawa said he had drawn up plans for the new design of his house. Using the resources at his disposal, including the bishop of his parish at the time who was an entrepreneur looking for work, Furukawa brought his plans to life.


Kenzo Furukawa holds his iphone showing a photo of a replica of the Washington, DC temple he made.

Photo by Sugarmaa Bataa

Furukawa shared other projects he’s designed and made over the years, including a mini model of the Washington D.C. Temple and a statue of Christus, both of which were displayed at the Moloka’i Junior Chamber’s annual carnival. of Commerce (JCC) in 1977. Furukawa explained that this annual carnival was big business in Moloka’i where he grew up.

Furukawa said he was inspired by the 127-foot-tall replica of the Salt Lake City Temple’s eastern spiers that were displayed at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, according to the BYU Religious Education website. . With this example in mind, Furukawa said he envisioned more for the Church’s booth at his hometown carnival and drew up plans for a mini temple in Washington DC because he loved the architecture. His father helped him set it up, he added.

Another Furukawa friend and church member, Steven Carter, said that Furukawa was not only creative, but also driven. “Creativity means something, but the creativity associated with work means much more. … It is [Furukawa] a hard worker, and he’s willing to roll up his sleeves [and work]. And I think that’s also reflected in the way he serves. He doesn’t just talk; he walks the walk.

Do with

After graduating from BYU in Provo in 1980, Furukawa returned to Hawaii and lived with his sister in Honolulu, where he found employment with American Express Travel. “When I got my first paycheck, when I looked at my paycheck, I was like, ‘They made a mistake. If it’s my salary, I can’t live on it! So he went to his boss and asked her to check and make sure everything was fine.

When she assured him that nothing was wrong, Furukawa said he thought to himself, “I can’t live on this salary!” Nine years later, however, his financial planner told him he had achieved his goal and could afford his own house, Furukawa shared.

From there, Furukawa said his life consisted of dollar movies, working two jobs, taking the bus whenever he could to save money, and working on his house whenever he had it. the occasion. Walking around his house, Furukawa also described different additions, such as counters and curtains, which he received for free or relatively cheaply because he is not afraid to use materials that others throw away for. bring his ideas to life.

“My grandmother on the Japanese side of the family always said, ‘Go [to] school, study hard, work hard, save your money. But I’ve always liked beautiful things. But you know, if you can’t afford it, then you go with what you have.

Furukawa said he was always interested in architecture, even as a child. When asked what style of house he wanted when he was growing up, Furukawa said he couldn’t choose a particular style, adding, “No, I don’t want just one house. I need at least six. Although people were surprised by this statement, Furukawa said it turned out to be prophetic in a way. After his father’s death, Furukawa said that he and his sister ended up with all the houses their father had built in Moloka’i, which happened to be six of them.

A good neighbor to all

He bought his 75-year-old home in Hauula in June 1990 and said he has lived there ever since. However, he frequently travels to Moloka’i to check out the rental accommodations of his other houses. Although he didn’t originally have the best impression of Hauula, Furukawa explained, “That’s what I bought because that’s what I could afford.”

However, during his time here, he said his love for the place grew. Kelly-Paddock said: “[Furukawa is] so caring about the community. It’s very busy with its church and rental properties, but I would say [the] The Hauula community comes there very close to the next place.

Indiana native Kelly-Paddock said she met Furukawa in 2009, although they both moved to Honolulu in the 1980s. nonprofit with the goal of “improving community resilience,” Kelly-Paddock explained.

Carter, who teaches at BYU-Hawaii as an assistant professor in the Faculty of Education and Social Work, described Furukawa as “endearingly candid” and said he was always ready to serve but he was also very direct.

“Ken [Furukawa] is one of those people who is just a good neighbor to everyone. He can sometimes say some things that not everyone agrees with, but he’s just a good neighbor to everyone. He is sincere. Carter explained that Furukawa always helps his neighbors with their yard work. Once, Furukawa brought grass in a trash bag from Moloka’i and helped Carter and her family plant it in their garden, Carter shared.

“He’s ready to do – in his funny, quirky way – whatever he can to serve the people around him. I think service is an integral part of who he is.

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