Kings’ kaifono dies in Tonga

The man who was given the privilege of taking away and eating kings of Tonga’s fonos or food served with kava during special royal ceremonies died in his Sopu residence on Sunday 21 after he lost his battle with cancer.

Masanori Kawaguchi, 63, a Japanese business man who operated restaurant business in Nukuʻalofa was buried at Malaʻeʻāloa chiefly cemetery on Thursday, February 25. He was widely known to many Tongans as Masa.

Masa and his family were not alone. Their Majesties King Tupou VI and Queen Nanasipau’u attended a private royal prayer service at the consular house to pay their tribute to the deceased.

The sacred practice of kaifono allows only foreigners to take away and eat His Majesty’s fono given that the current king has no fahu or paternal aunt in Tonga to serve such cultural duty and privilege.

Masa 2
Masanori Kawaguchi is striking the fono at King Tupou VI Taumafa Kava in Pangai Lahi, July 2015. Photo/Facebook

Masa’s last kaifono was believed to have been during His Majesty King Tupou VI’s coronation celebration last year.

During the national royal event at Pangai Lahi he was seen escorted to the pangai (kava circle) where he hit the fono with his hand indicating to the king’s herald Motu’apuaka that he was the kaifono and he was there to take the royal fono away.

He was also Late King George V’s kaifono.

The former Japanese volunteer to Tonga during 1970s through JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) is servived by three sons and grandchildren.

A photo of two of his grandchildren in black clothes and taʻovalas was posted to Facebook this afternoon in memory of Masa.

The caption under the photo inferred how his Japanese family appreciatd the duty Masa was given to serve in Tonga for the royal family  in which they said it “incorperate both heritages”.


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