:: Tributes ::

The Memorial Service for Minoru Hokari
in the Joyce Chapel,
at the Fawkner Crematorium and Memorial Park, Australia


:: Veronica Pappas, Celebrant

We have candles here which we would like to light, and they're the ones used by Minoru during his meditation, and it's appropriate for us to light it now-four candles-as a symbol of the warmth and light he brought into so many lives, and also that he is now free of pain and in peace.

We gather here with sad hearts to honour the life of Minoru, the life of a young man who meant so much to each of you. A young man, you might say, who had only just begun what should have been many, many years with us. Look through the whole world, and there is no one like the one we mourn today. But he still lives on in your memories, and though no longer a visible part of your lives, he will always remain with you, through the influence he has had on you and the part that he has played in your lives.

Death is as natural as life. Only nature is permanent on this earth. All that has life has a beginning and an end. And life exists in the time span between birth and death. Life's significances and successes we achieve in that span of time. Its permanence lies in the memories of those who knew us and any influence that we have left behind.

Death is a very personal matter for those who know it in someone close to them. And we are all concerned, directly or indirectly, with the death of any individual, for we are all members of one human community, and not one of us is independent or separate. Though some of the links are strong and some are tenuous, each of us is joined to all the others by links of kinship, love, friendship, by living in the same town or country, or simply by our own common humanity.

The separateness or uniqueness of each human life is the basis of our sadness, and those who feel deeply will grieve deeply. No philosophy, however objective, will prevent this wholly natural reaction by the human heart. The absolute essential aspect of grief is that it only exists where there has been love.

Minoru was fortunate to have found such wonderful friendships in his life. He returned your kindness, and the relationships you shared with Minoru have been rich and rewarding experiences for all of you. The life we are now contemplating was indeed a very special one. There was so much still to do in Minoru's life. He was full of a sense of adventure and a unique thirst for knowledge which had led him to achieve so much in his few short years on this earth. He was a man of great intellect and understanding, particularly of the Aboriginal people with whom he became so connected through his studies. You'll remember how he loved to read, how he enjoyed going to the movies, the music that he loved so much, and had such a huge collection of CDs that I hear it went halfway up the wall, how passionate he was about art in visiting the galleries-the endless list of interests he managed to fit into an unbelievably busy life.

His energy was enormous, as was his capacity to be a loyal and devoted friend to so many of you, both here today and in the four corners of the world. He kept in touch, and that's one of the hardest things to do today; our time seems so precious and our intentions so good, but often we fall behind in the most important thing of all: letting our loved ones know we're out there, and that we're thinking about them.

I've spent some time with Minoru's parents together with Mayumi Uchida and Steve Matthews on Tuesday afternoon, and they helped me prepare this tribute to him. I'll read you more of the story of the milestones of his life, because I know that there are some of you who wish to share your more personal memories of Minoru. So I will ask each of you to come forward when I finish this eulogy.

We know we can never capture of the life of a person; we can only bring glimpses and moments which remind us of the lives they lived with us. So let us do that now.

On the 8th of July, 1971, a baby boy was born to Keiko and Nobuo Hokari, in Niigata, northern Japan. This little boy was destined to become an exceptional young man, who would leave his mark on the minds and hearts of many, many people in the future. Minoru had one sister, Yuki, and they grew up happily with their parents and friends in this seaside city. Minoru was very quiet and shy until he started kindergarten, then he soon became more outgoing and popular. He always loved school and enjoyed studying, and he quickly became a leader in his group. He was very much admired by both his fellow students and his teachers, who found him to be a very loyal and trustworthy young person. These qualities became stronger and stronger as he matured. In junior high, and later in senior school, Minoru was elected as school captain. Everyone looked up to him as a fine role model, and his strong personality was sure to take him far.

One of his favorite pastimes when he was young was fishing. He spent many happy hours with his fishing line, and it was not only something he loved doing, but it was a relaxation for him, too. He also loved riding his bicycle, and he would disappear for hours at a time, riding all over the countryside. He even took the inter-island ferry one day, when he was only about 12 or 13 years old, and sailed to Sado, a two-hour journey away, where he cycled around and around the island and then he caught the ferry back home again. Not everyone approved, but he did it anyway. He was seen as quiet and understanding, particularly by one so young, but he never stopped wanting to achieve new things and set himself harder and harder tasks all the time. He had a wonderful sense of adventure that eventually led him halfway around the world.

When Minoru was 18 years old, he left home and went to university in Tokyo. There he began a course in economics and anthropology. After a while, he decided to change his major to history, which is a subject that always held a fascination for him. This led him to Australia in 1996, where he developed an interest in Aboriginal history and culture. And before long, he was accepted into the Gurindji people, where he was able to do a great deal of research towards his PhD.

Minoru had such a genuine respect for these people that for quite some time he virtually became one of them. They must have totally trusted and admired him, as this was a great honour to be taken in and treated as one of the tribe. Now it was 1997, and Minoru had traveled extensively across northern Australia, learning the culture, language, and customs of the Aboriginal people, and had successfully published a great deal of his research in various magazines and journals. He had written an amazing amount of his travels and observations-enough, no doubt, to publish several books.

One of his greatest attributes, however, was his natural ability to form strong and devoted relationships with many, many people whose paths he crossed. He was a good, honest companion who gave willingly of his time and his affection. Nothing was too much trouble for Minoru, and he helped anyone that he could.

Tragically, ill health overtook him last July, and though he fought the illness with everything he had, recovery was not meant to be. His parents came to Australia to be with him, and he's been surrounded by the most wonderful circle of friends that anyone could ever wish for. His parents were overcome when they saw just how many people regarded him as their very own special friend. And cards, e-mails, letters, and phone calls have poured in from all over the world, as well as from all over Australia. Yuki came from New York, where she is living, also to be at her brother's side. And Minoru, in true form, showed incredible strength as he continued with his work on his manuscripts, even from his hospital bed. He departed this life with dignity and peace at 12:45 am on Monday morning at St. Vincent's Palliative Care. His family and friends would all like to express their appreciation to the medical and nursing staff for the care they gave him in his final days.

He was a fine young man, a gentle and loving friend to many, too many to even name, but you all know how special you were, and that's why you're here now. He will be very sadly missed, but never, ever forgotten.