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16th Annual Japan Wizards Competition

Congratulations to the 126 students who represented 27 high schools from Oahu, Hawaii, Maui and Kauai at the 16th Annual JASH Japan Wizards Statewide Academic Team Competition (JWC) on Saturday, February 23, 2019 at Hawaii Tokai International College! Teams were comprised of three students each, with a total of 42 teams competing. The student-teams were tested on their knowledge of various Japan-related topics such as art, culture and tradition, food, geography, history, Japan-Hawaii ties, literature, politics and government, sports, contemporary Japan, and of course language. The theme for the 2019 competition was “Nihon no Kankyō Mondai: An Ever-Changing Japan”. This theme pertains to the shift in Japan’s environmental landscape and the challenges Japan faces due to global warming and climate change.

Students were divided into two levels: Level A or Level B, depending on their current Japanese language level. Level A students are enrolled in Japanese I or II, and Level B students are enrolled in Japanese III or IV.


Level A 1st place: Punahou School

Level A 2nd place: Iolani School

Level A 3rd place: Moanalua High School

Level B 1st place and Tateuchi Memorial Award winner (For highest number of points in the overall competition): Iolani School

Level B 2nd place: Punahou School

Level B 3rd place: Maryknoll School

Iolani School Level B Team receiving the plaque for the Tateuchi Memorial Award

Each year, JASH awards trips to Japan to the top scoring public and private school teams in each level. We are pleased to announce the JWC Japan trip winners:

Kapaa High School Level B, top scoring public school for level B

Level B: Iolani School (private, see photo above) and Kapaa High School (public)

(Left) Punahou School Level A, top scoring private school for Level A; (Right) Moanalua High School Level A, top scoring public school for Level A

Level A: Punahou School (private) and Moanalua High School (public)

In addition, JASH Board member and Youth Education Committee Chair Jean E. Rolles sponsored a fifth award for a trip to Japan in honor of her friend and fellow JASH Board member, Dr. Michael Leineweber, who passed away in 2014. Dr. Leineweber was a loyal supporter of JASH who strongly believed in the educational programs that JASH conducts, especially those programs that encouraged exchanges between people from Japan and Hawaii. In his memory, Ms. Rolles sponsored a team chosen through a random drawing during the JWC awards ceremony. To be qualified for this drawing, the team must have scored at least 100 points and be in the top 20 scoring teams at the competition. The four teams who had already won Japan trips were not eligible for this drawing.

The winner of the Dr. Michael Leineweber award was: Hawaii Baptist Academy, Level B.

H.P. Baldwin High School (Level B), was also awarded a trip to Japan donated by a retired public school teacher, who chooses to remain anonymous. The donor expressed how her former students benefited from the JASH Japan Wizards Competition and requested that a second public school from Level B travel to Japan.

These six teams of three students and their advisors will travel to Japan this summer to experience firsthand what they studied in the classroom and through independent research.

This year, students were also invited to create a video that illustrates the challenges Japan faces due to global warming/climate change. The videos captured the many different ways in which Japan is attempting to mitigate climate change or cope with the increased temperatures.

​​JASH received a total of 27 video entries, and 15 of those were selected as "finalists." Of these final 15, eight were given top awards in the following categories:

Most Representative of Topic:

1st Place: Iolani School Level A

Most Representative of Topic:

2nd Place: H.P. Baldwin High School Level B

Most Inspirational:

1st Place: Leilehua High School Level B

Most Inspirational:

2nd Place: Iolani School Level B

Most Educational:

1st Place: Punahou School Level A

Most Educational:

2nd Place: Hilo High School Level A

Best Produced:

1st Place: Kapolei High School Level A

Best Produced:

2nd Place: Hilo High School Level B

Below is a playlist of videos submitted.

Between competition rounds, students were kept busy with numerous activity stations in the Activity Center. These included calligraphy, gyotaku fish printing by Prior 2 Pupu Productions, karuta, origami by Hawaii Origami Club, Jeopardy, fukuwarai, Pictionary, hanafuda, ohajiki, and other fun activities.


Students can be seen in the Activity Center participating in the various volunteer led activities

Thank you to our title sponsor Hawaiian Airlines and other major supporters – ABC Stores; Atsuhiko and Ina Goodwin Tateuchi Foundation; Freeman Foundation; Friends of Hawaii Charities; Halekulani Corporation; Hawaii Hotel Industry Foundation; International Cultural and Friendship Association; Jean E. Rolles; JTB Hawaii; Takuyo Corporation dba Lighthouse; Temple University Japan; The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles; and our anonymous donor – who through the JWC encourage high school students to study Japan and the many fascinating topics associated with it.

JASH would also like to thank all the contributors who provided prizes, snacks, and other donations to our competition. Also, a HUGE mahalo to the 70+ volunteers who helped the JWC run smoothly and volunteered their Saturday a few weeks ago for a training session at the East-West Center. Volunteers were from organizations that included the Japan Exchange and Teaching Alumni Association of Hawaii, University of Hawaii at Manoa, University of Hawaii- West Oahu, Kapiolani Community College, Hawaii Tokai International College, and JTB USA, just to name a few. Without their tremendous support, the JWC would not have been possible. Finally, JASH would like to express our sincere gratitude to Chancellor Naoto Yoshikawa and everyone at Hawaii Tokai International College for the generous use of their facilities and for their support of the JASH Japan Wizards Competition.

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