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Japan-America Society of Hawaii Holds Spring 2018 Japan Day

On April 5, 2018, as part of the 150 th anniversary of the Gannenmono, JASH held its Japan Day program, sponsored by the McInerny Foundation. Over 200 students from James Campbell High School, Kalaheo High School, Kalani High School, Kapaa High School, King Kekaulike High School, Konawaena High School, St. Francis School, University Laboratory School and Waiakea High School congregated at the Manoa Grand Ballroom and the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii. Held twice a year, Japan Day is the Society’s longest running educational program which is offered free to Hawaii schools. Since its inception in 1993, over 6,000 students from 61 different public and private high schools have participated in this educational event.

The generous funding from the McInerny Foundation has enabled JASH to expand the Japan Day program to include more schools, thereby impacting more students. This year, additional funding from the Freeman Foundation allowed more of our neighbor island schools to participate as well. As JASH president Reyna Kaneko described, “JASH is pleased to hold Japan Day for Hawaii’s students. This year in particular is a very special year in Hawaii as we celebrate the 150 th anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii, known as the ‘Gannenmono’ or ‘First Year Men’. Today, 5th generation descendants of the Gannenmono live throughout the State, and by having students from all islands participate, JASH’s Japan Day truly reflects the spirit of the Japanese-American heritage.”

The morning started out with a booming taiko demonstration by Taiko Center of the Pacific, featuring Kenny Endo and his students. Immediately following the welcome ceremony, students attended four of nine cultural sessions presented by more than 40 volunteer experts on bon dance, calligraphy, ikebana (flower arranging), karate, kimono/yukata wearing, origami, soroban (Japanese abacus) tea ceremony and a seminar on Life Skills and Personal Success. Following the morning program, the neighbor island students were given private Gallery tours of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii’s (JCCH) exhibit, Okage Sama De: I am what I am because of you. In addition, the neighbor island teams also visited other areas on Oahu – such as the East West Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa or Byodo-In Temple – before flying back to their respective islands.

This unique program is one of two programs offered by JASH to Hawaii’s high school students, with the other being the Japan Wizards Statewide Academic Team Competition. Japan Day provides students with hands-on experience in traditional Japanese arts and culture while reinforcing and complementing what is taught in the classroom. Japan Day also illustrates how art and culture in different societies can influence and enhance people’s lives, and how these cultural values are perpetuated by devotees of the arts. Prior to attending Japan Day, students were asked to rate their familiarity with and interest in each of the sessions that they were going to participate in at Japan Day. This prepared the students for the event itself and helped them focus further on the various activities they attended.

JASH would like to thank the donors of Japan Day: McInerny Foundation and the Freeman Foundation. In addition, a big MAHALO to all the volunteer experts for their dedication to the program: Lynette Hanaoka, Sharon Isa and Irene Kodani, members of Hawaii Shin Kobukai for teaching the steps to bon-odori; calligraphy master Setsuko Tokumine, her assistants Joyce Wong and Stanley Hashiro; Dawn Kanno and her niece Karli Hamada of MOA Hawaii; Jean Sakihara and members of Kimono Project USA; Ashley Nishihara and Lynn Masumoto of Hawaii Origami Club; Hideaki and Yasuko Oshima from Araki Hiroya Soroban School; Earl Okawa, President Emeritus of JASH; members of the Urasenke Foundation; and Jordan and Randee Silva of Japan International Karate Center. We would also like to thank Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii for the generous discounted use of their facilities and for leading the tours of the Gallery, and Kenny Endo and the Taiko Center of the Pacific for their inspirational taiko performance and demonstration. Finally, we appreciate the help of our JASH volunteers Linda Kaneshiro, Cathy Matsuzaki, Colby Takeda and Sandy Takeda for helping us that day.

For more information on this and other educational programs, please contact Elizabeth Barrera at 808- 524-4450 or via email at

(L-R Top to Bottom): Students learn the art of kimono-wearing; Students learn the art of ikebana; Students practice calligraphy strokes; Students learn how to fold paper in origami; Students listen to Oshima sensei’s instructions for the soroban; Silva-Sensei demonstrates karate moves.

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