Kainaliu still fits a description written of it in 1958, when its estimated population was 362 people with 34 businesses: “Rural village centered on small commercial strip.” One of North Kona’s principal business areas, it includes many shops that have been operated by the same families for generations.
When Lanakila Church was built in 1867 to serve the resident Hawaiians, the town of Kainaliu probably did not exist. It took the growth of sugar, coffee and ranching to support Kainaliu’s commercial development. By 1920, numerous small stores lined the street to sell fresh produce and dry goods to the predominantly Japanese residents. Many of the stores boasted handy hitching posts to tie up donkeys that carried home the 100-pound sacks of rice and 50-pound bags of flour.
Landmarks include: the Aloha Theatre, built in 1932; Oshima Store, started in 1926; and H. Kimura Store (with its well-known fabric collection), started in 1927. The building now called the Blue Ginger Gallery was once the Monden tailor shop, one of the few buildings to survive the devastating fire of 1946.
Copyright 1998 Kona Historical Society. Reprinted by permission.