Mitsuo Aoki

December 4, 1914August 19, 2010

MITSUO AOKI, 95, of Kaneohe, died August 19, 2010, a retired University of Hawaii Religion Professor, United Church of Christ Minister for 65 years and Founder/President of The Foundation for Holistic Healing. Born in Hawi, Hawaii. Survived by his son, Galen Aoki; daughters, Sophie Ann Aoki and April Aoki; stepsons, Rick Wagner and Walter Wagner; step daughter, Christina Wagner; brother Shiro Aoki; sisters, Bessie Kong, Evelyn Kuioka, Delna Shimamura and Ethel Takahashi; 13 grandchildren; 8 great grandchildren. Celebration of Life 3:00 p.m. Saturday (Sept.18) Church of the Crossroads, 1212 University Ave.; visitation 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Aloha attire. Family requests no flowers. For more information go to or Arrangements under the direction of Borthwick Mortuary, Honolulu, HI.


  • Funeral Service Saturday, September 18, 2010

Mitsuo Aoki

have a memory or condolence to add?

Skippy Hau

April 11, 2011

I was a U.H. student from the 1970s, when Hamilton Library still had a card catalog. I took Dr. Aoki's Religion class. I will always remember his jovial laugh, worldly wisdom, and his ability to attract people into class just to listen to his lectures. Aloha,

David Janes

April 7, 2011

I had the honor of serving as a TA for Mits Aoki in 1994 for his class on Death and Dying. I learned so much from him and so deeply admired his spirit, which lives on in all of us.

Willie Marshall

February 14, 2011

Dr. Aoki was for me a jewel in the UH Manoa Religion department. Mits: My teacher and mentor as I struggled to attain my BA in Comparative Religion in the early 70's. Mits was fully present for all of us who learned from his example and teachings in the UH religion program. Aloha no.

Joseph Leong

February 10, 2011

Mitsuo Aoki was my Religion teacher at UH in the late 70's. I remember his class being very interesting; so interesting, in fact, that I attended every session. He contiues to be one of my life's mentors and inspirations. We have all lost a great, gentle and wonderful man!

Jacquelyn Kealoha

November 3, 2010

I attended the University Of Hawaii in the early 1980's. I was a Finance major at the Business School. However, the best education I ever received was in Mitsuo Aoki's religion class, Death and Dying. No other class ever prepared me for life more. I am a better person for knowing this wonderful man and teacher, and I wish I had thanked him during his lifetime. Rev. Aoki, I know you're listening...........
Much Aloha,
Jacquelyn Kealoha

David Tasaka

October 30, 2010

Mits was a dear friend who helped me understand the meaning of compassion and acceptance. He lived a life of sharing and caring for others. He will be truly missed.

October 29, 2010

I saw part of Rev. Aoki's video last night on PBS....thank you Lord for blessing the world with this man. What a wonderful servant of God! Inspiring to say the least. Allison Takata-Edmiston, Makawao, Maui

Rick bernstein

October 1, 2010

Rick Bernstein's written eulogy for Mits Aoki

Good afternoon,

My name is Rick Bernstein.

Thank you for coming to honor our dear friend Mits Aoki. True to his teachings Mits end of life flowed like a gentle stream as he "lived his dying". His peaceful death was the final chapter in a lifetime of profound teachings.

With the help of Sophie Ann, his devoted daughter, caretaker and collaborator, they created the perfect environment for Mits to peacefully leave his body. Recently, they were able to rent the apartment of his dear old friend Peggy Van Brocklin after she moved to the mainland. It was a light filled, treetop unit where he felt at home. Soft music and the smell of essential oils floated in the light filled room. Family pictures and a wooden cross hung on the wall above his bed. It was his perfect place.

Pain free and filled with love, appreciation, and gratitude, Mits and Sophie created his hospice at home. During the times when she was traveling or needed a break, Mits would stay at the Kailua Hospice where he received excellent care. As he wound down, going out to lunches and dinners with friends stopped. He became tired and slept a lot. His Visitors did small chores, brought food, or stayed on so Sophie Ann could take a break or run errands. Lots of us co-oporated to make the Hospice work. In the last few days Mits defied his old friend Diabetes and joyfully ate ice cream spoon fed to him by his friends and family. We also held his water glass and straw and assisted him in drinking when he was thirsty. These simple actions were symbolic gestures that allowed us show our appreciation to him for all he had given us. During that period, he enjoyed the simple pleasures of having his feet rubbed, his hand held, being read to, and simply sharing the space in silence. When we communicated our love and thanks to him, he gently squeezed our hands and smiled, sometimes speaking a few words. The energy flowed easily as Mits relaxed into death.

The process was a celebration. Here was our saintly friend, free of pain and filled with light, completing this phase and preparing to move on to his next adventure.

When Sophie Ann called to tell us of Mits death, my mind filled with the image of him being lifted up in a burst of light. That "present moment" connection many of us shared with him is what remains for me. Somehow when Mits said "we are all one", we all got it.

The ultimate deep thinker and cosmic dancer, he inspired and challenged us with his revelationary and expansive perspectives on life. Like a shaman, he danced and sang and joked us into opening our minds. He charmed and inspired us to "wake up" to his world of wholeness, connection, forgiveness and love.

Two months ago, after thirty seven years of spiritual dialogue, I asked him this question, "What is your bottom line?" Without hesitation he said, "Jesus Christ is my lord and Savior."

In that moment, It then dawned on me that when he converted to Christianity all those years ago, he totally and completely embraced the spirit of Jesus Christ. I believe that his conversion experience was so profound for him that he felt empowered to walk in the darkest of realms, terminal cancer and death and dying, without hesitation. With an open heart and and inspired mind, he stormed the darkened doors of death and dying and opened them wide to the light of hope, faith, and love, the tenants of his beliefs. He redefined the entire end of life equation. For those touched by his enlightenment, death became an opportunity for healing. What a gift he gave us.

As an aside, in all the years we spoke of spirituality, he never once tried to convert me from my chosen path of Jewish Christian Hindu Islamic Buddhism.

This spiritual warrior liberated countless terminal cancer patients and their families from guilt, fear, anguish, and suffering with his gentle, skillful, and persistent guidance? Mits selfless service was always provided in a quiet and humble manner. His techniques gave patients "resources" which allowed them to transform their experience from darkness into light.

Because Mits was such an amazing and radiant source of energy and knowledge, just being in his presence was often healing and enlightening. His willingness to freely share his knowlege and mana was, in using his favorite word, AWESOME.

When Mits planned his funeral, he asked me to speak to you about the "meaning of his life." After much deliberation, I concluded that we, the assembled and the multitudes he touched with his wisdom, love and caring, ARE the meaning of his life. Each of us holds a unique remembrance of of his Mana'o.

Guided Imagery, a visualization process, was one of his favorite techniques for connecting people to their inner resources. In his honor, we are going to use that technique to come together as ohana and share our energy and aloha with each other as we visualize our beloved friend and teacher Mits.

Please take a deep breath and now let it go completely. Join hands, left palm facing upwards and the right palm facing down. We are now energetically connected. Please close your eyes. Allow your image of Mits into your your minds eye. If this makes you nervous, simply open your eyes. I will lead you through some of the different roles that Mits played in our lives. Simply let the images flow, one after the next and surround Mits with your love and appreciation for his life.


The Meaning of his life was his teachings and since the subject today is Mits dying, and he was the "Prince of Passage" and "the King of Croaking", here are some of his recommendations for a happy and peaceful death.

A. If possible make your home into your Hospice or make arrangement to move into a hospice.

B. Give a directive to your family or support group as to how you wish to "Live your dying". examples, type of music, food, massage, visitors, etc.

C. Have a living will and a regular will that are clear and up to date.

D. Plan your funeral and let your wishes be known.

E. Forgive everyone for everything and ask forgiveness for all of your trespasses.

F. Express your love to friends and family.

G. Die happy.
Thank you Mits.



This written talk was scrapped at the last minute. Instead, I spoke from my heart.

August 18, 2010

Peter Bowman

September 27, 2010

Mits Aoki: Icon of a Dream

Before living in the present was in vogue,
Before creating your reality by visioning it,

There was Mits.

Before accepting your mortality was seen as a key to a full life,
Before exploring the meaning of being human was seen as spiritual liberation,
Before “I’ll see it when I believe it”,

There was Mits.

Mits Aoki was different. Very different. So different, in fact, that he was viewed as either out to lunch or a genius in touch with something both compelling and elusive. When you were in his presence you felt protected, accepted, honored, in touch with the gods. There was something about him that was just captivating.

I first met Mits in his Religion class to fulfill and undergraduate requirement. How could this man, a Jonathan Livingston Seagull in human professor form, be so powerful with such simple means? He could draw us into his dream world with his stories, demonstrations, and self-awareness exercises. His passion was unmistakenably sincere. And moving. So much that I, and many of my classmates found ourselves being TA’s for his lab classes, and finding spiritual meaning in just asking the questions; Why am I here? Can death be embraced instead of feared? What happens when we put 100% faith in something we value or desire, instead of what we fear? How powerful are our thoughts and beliefs? What if everything really happens for a reason? A reason that we can’t see?

I can’t tell you the details of exactly what I learned in those years taking Mit’s classes, but I can tell you it changed my life. I can tell you it started my search for how I want to make a difference in this world. Many wonderful and seemingly coincidental things happened to me as a result of knowing this man, this loving, compassionate, accepting, eccentric soul. But mostly it was an awakening. Awakening to what was always right in front of me, but I didn’t see. Awakening to my own inner self. Awakening to what was possible. Like suddenly getting the “aha” of a Zen statement. Awakening to my life.

I have no doubt that when it’s timefor4 me to leave this earth plane, I will see Mits at that light at the end of the tunnel, smiling and shaking my hand and saying, ”Welcome! It’s great to have you here! What took you so long?” And once again, just like in his class, I will feel honored. And safe. And fulfilled.

Thanks, Mitts. You are truly AWWWWWWESOME!!!!

Peter Bowman
Religion class of 1975

Robert Wagner

September 21, 2010

Whenever I would visit Grandpa Mits and Grandma Lynn, Mits would give me a banana. I've always loved bananas and never thought anything of it. It wasn't until later in my adult life that someone told me that Mits only got the bananas to give me because he knew they were my favorite.
He thought of others, even down to the simplest things that made us happy. He will always be loved and in my heart.