Japan-America Society of Hawaii Holds Fall 2018 Japan Day

On November 29, 2018, JASH held its Fall Japan Day program, sponsored by the McInerny Foundation and the Freeman Foundation. Over 180 students from Farrington High School, Hilo High School, Kealakehe High School, Lahainaluna High School, Le Jardin Academy, Maui Hui Malama, Molokai High School, Niu Valley Middle School, Roosevelt High School, St. Joseph School and Washington Middle School gathered at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii’s Manoa Grand Ballroom to enjoy the day’s activities. Held twice a year, Japan Day is the JASH’s longest running educational program which is offered free to Hawaii’s middle and high schools. Since its inception in 1993, over 6,500 students from 65 different public and private schools have participated in this educational event.

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 neighbor island schools to participate as well.

The morning started out with a booming taiko demonstration by Taiko Center of the Pacific, led by Kenny Endo. Following the welcome ceremony, students attended four of the 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 Japan Day program, 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. Neighbor island teams also visited other areas on Oahu – such as the East-West Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa and Byodo-In Temple – before flying back to their respective islands.

(L-R) Student practices calligraphy strokes; Students pose in yukata after learning the art of kimono-wearing

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. One teacher described the purpose of Japan Day program being, “for people to experience more of Japan's culture and to use it for reference or a source for things in their lives. Programs like these can help open people’s minds more. For example, the lady in charge of the tea ceremony told us that there are so many others from over 100 countries who make tea, and you can even connect with them on that similar interest.”

(L-R) Jordan Silva Sensei demonstrates karate moves; Students carefully observe the steps of tea ceremony