Stories from Dr. Yukari, Story #18-1, Nagomi – A Japanese hospice and foster care home

[ Stories from Dr. Yukari ]

Guided by the hope of St. Nichiren, we continue to work towards a peaceful society. Honolulu Myohoji Mission collaborates with Psychologist Dr. Yukari Kunisue, a trained and experienced therapeutic life coach, to offer a safe online space: Stories from Dr. Yukari


A view from Nagomi Foster Homes, Lanai, Honolulu Hawaii.


A few years ago, Kayoko cared for her mother-in-law until her death which was about eight years ago. Around the same time, two of her close friends passed away in hospice care. While Kayoko herself is a veteran nurse at several hospice locations, the pain and despair she felt from the loss of her loved ones were as deep as anyone else’s.

Even in Hawaii, the reality is that people do age and require care when they lose physical and mental capabilities. While there are many high-quality facilities in Hawaii, not all places can offer culture specific care. Often times, when immigrants from other countries age and develop dementia, they can lose their adopted English-speaking abilities. Japanese patients for example interact and react better when a Japanese speaking care taker is assisting them. 

Based on Kayoko’s experience, she strived to provide a place of terminal care where a patient felt comfortable and respected by professionals experienced in hospice care. She always wanted to offer care that was culturally suited to the patient. Her ideal location for a starting a care home was her own home in Waialae Uka.


St. Christopher hospice care near London was founded by a former social worker turned medical doctor, Cicely Saunders. This location is considered to be the origin of the modern hospice practices and movements. Terminal care should be a holistic practice that includes everyone from the dying patient to their friends and family. The care should not just include medical care but also mental, psychological, social, and spiritual care. 

In the US, a Swiss-American doctor Elizabeth Kubler-Ross wrote a book titled On Death and Dying in 1969, where she discussed the concept of grieving including the psychological aspects and the five stages of grief. Her pioneer work shed light on terminal care and the hospice movement during the 70’s and 80’s. 

In Kayoko’s life, her two children grew up, her mother-in-law passed away and her husband retired shortly after. Kayoko decided to name the care home facility Nagomi: a Japanese word meaning calmness, relaxation and harmony.

“I want both the patients and their families to feel at home. I want them to think that this is their own place as long as they are respectful to others.”


(To be continued)