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Winning teams of the 17th annual Japan Wizards Competition

Congratulations to the 111 students who represented 19 high schools from Oahu, Hawaii and Maui at the 17th Annual JASH Japan Wizards Statewide Academic Team Competition (JWC) on Saturday, February 29, 2020 at Kapiolani Community College! Teams were comprised of three students each, with a total of 37 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 2020 competition was the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics.

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, Tateuchi Memorial Award and ICU Special Award winner (For highest number of points in the overall competition): Konawaena High School

Level A 2nd place: St. Andrew’s School

Level A 3rd place: Hawaii Baptist Academy

Level B 1st place: King Kekaulike High School

Level B 2nd place: Hanalani Schools

Level B 3rd place: Mililani High School B-1

Konawaena High School Level A Team receiving the plaque for the Tateuchi Memorial Award, certificate for Japan trip award and ICU (International Christian University) Special 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:

St. Andrew’s School Level A, top scoring private school for Level A

Level A: St. Andrew’s School (private) and Konawaena High School (public, see photo above)

Level B: Hanalani Schools (private) and King Kekaulike High School (public)

(Left) Hanalani Schools Level B, top scoring private school for Level B; (Right) King Kekaulike High School Level B, top scoring public school for Level B

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 qualify for this drawing, the team must have scored at least 120 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: Hilo High School, Level B.

Mililani High School, Level B-1 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 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 how Tokyo is preparing to welcome the world with the spirit of ‘omotenashi' at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics and what we can learn from the same spirit.

​​JASH received a total of 22 video entries, and 14 of those were selected as "finalists." Of these final 14, four were given top awards in the following categories:

Most Representative of the Topic: Mililani High School Level B-1

Most Educational: King Kekaulike High School Level B

Most Inspirational: Mililani High School Level A

Best Produced: Konawaena High School Level B

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

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

This year, at our first-ever College Fair between competition rounds, students were also provided opportunities to explore higher education options in Japan and Hawaii by JASH corporate member and supporting organizations including Hawaii Tokai International College/Tokai University, Hosei University, International Christian University, International Pacific University, Lighthouse/JTB College Tours, Temple University Japan Campus and Tokyo Management College.

Students can be seen in the College Fair visiting booths stationed by local representatives.

Thank you to our title sponsor Hawaiian Airlines and other major supporters – Atsuhiko and Ina Goodwin Tateuchi Foundation; Freeman Foundation; Friends of Hawaii Charities; Halekulani Corporation; Hawaii Hotel Industry Foundation; International Christian University; International Cultural and Friendship Association; Jean E. Rolles; JTB Hawaii; License Academy; 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 the Consulate General of Japan in Honolulu who provided prize items for our competition. Also, a HUGE mahalo to the 60+ volunteers who helped the JWC run smoothly and volunteered their Saturday a few weeks ago for a training session. Volunteers were from organizations that included the Japan Exchange and Teaching Alumni Association of Hawaii, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 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 our gratitude goes to the President, Chancellor and staff of Kapiolani Community College for the generous use of their facilities and for their support of the JASH Japan Wizards Competition.

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