Known by some as the “Saint of Nebraska and Colorado,” Hiram Hisanori Kano was born into a Japanese noble family in 1889. As a young man, he received a vision of God while undergoing surgery. He surrendered himself, and subsequently became convinced that in this vision he had encountered the risen Christ. He was baptized in 1910.
Educated in agriculture, he felt called by God to assist Japanese settlers in the American Midwest and so emigrated to Nebraska. In the early 1920’s, Bishop George Beecher discerned in Kano the evangelist he was seeking to work among Nebraska’s Japanese. Already a farmer and educator, Kano set to work as a lay missioner, then a deacon, then a priest. By the spring of 1934, 250 people had been baptized through his ministry.
On the morning of the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack, Kano was arrested. He spent the next two years in internment camps in four states, working to help other internees and imprisoned AWOL soldiers. In addition to preaching, he served as dean of a school for internees and taught courses.
Upon release, Fr. Kano went to study at Nashotah House, the Episcopal seminary in Wisconsin where he earned a master’s degree and also planted 200 trees. He returned to his ministry in Nebraska in 1946. When the United States government finally offered reparations for the internments, Fr. Kano told his bishop, “I don’t want the money. God just used that as another opportunity for me to preach the gospel.”
Fr. Kano retired in 1957 and moved with his wife to a small farm in Fort Collins, Colorado. He was almost 100 when he died in 1988.
The Rev. Charles Hoffacker is a retired priest of the Diocese of Washington