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20th Annual Japan Wizards Statewide Academic Team Competition



Congratulations to the 108 students who represented 18 high schools from Oahu, Hawaiʻi and Maui at the 20th Annual JASH Japan Wizards Statewide Academic Team Competition (JWC) on Saturday, February 25, 2023 at UH Mānoa Campus Center! Teams were comprised of three students each, with a total of 36 teams competing. The student-teams were tested on their knowledge of various Japan-related topics such as art and culture, daily life and customs, economy, food, geography, history, politics and government, religion, U.S./Hawaii-Japan ties, and of course language. The theme for the 2023 competition was Sister State/City Relationships between Hawaii and Japan.

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): ʻIolani School

2nd place: Punahou School

3rd place: Waiakea High School

Level B

1st place, Tateuchi Memorial Award and ICU Special Award winner (For highest number of points in the overall competition): ʻIolani School

2nd place: H.P Baldwin High School

3rd place: Mililani High School

ʻIolani School Level A and B Teams, winner of the Tateuchi Memorial 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. Please note that the school whose team won a trip to Japan through competition scores in 2022 JWC is not eligible to win a trip this year via competition scores. We are pleased to announce the JWC Japan trip winners as follows:

(Top-Bottom) ʻIolani School Level A Team and Kalani High School Level A Team, Japan trip winners for Level A

Level A: ʻIolani School (private) and Kalani High School (public)

Level B: ʻIolani School (private) and H.P Baldwin High School (public)

(Top-Bottom) ʻIolani School Level B Team and H.P. Baldwin High School Level B Team, Japan trip winners for Level B

In addition, JASH Board Director 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 Director, 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: Waiakea High School, Level A.

Kapolei 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 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 youth leaders can get engaged in developing or maintaining strong and meaningful sister state/city relationships between Hawaii and Japan. JASH received a total of 25 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 Theme/Topic: Waiakea High School Level A

Most Inspirational: H.P. Baldwin High School Level B

Most Educational: Leilehua High School Level A

Best Produced: Waipahu High School Level B

Between competition rounds, students were kept busy with numerous activity stations in the Activity Center. These included hanafuda by Hanafuda Hawaii, Pictionary, the chopsticks game, ohajiki, kendama, origami and other fun activities.


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

Students were also provided opportunities to explore higher education options in Japan and Hawaii at our College Fair between competition rounds. The following JASH corporate member and supporting institutions participated in the College Fair: Bunsei University of Art; Hawaiʻi Tokai International College/Tokai University; International Christian University; Japan Exchange and Teaching Program Alumni Association of Hawaii; License Academy; Meikai University; Soshi Educational Group (International Pacific University and Tokyo Management College); Temple University Japan Campus; and University of Hawaiʻi Mānoa, College of Social Sciences.

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; College of Social Sciences, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa; Freeman Foundation; Hawaii Hotel Industry Foundation; International Christian University; Ms. Jean Rolles; JTB Hawaii; License Academy; Temple University Japan Campus; 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.

This year, we were particularly honored to have Mr. Ron Samiano from Hawaiian Airlines join the Awards Ceremony and present Japan trip awards to winning teams. As our title sponsor, Hawaiian Airlines generously provide round trip tickets to Japan for the four winning teams as well as inter-island tickets to neighbor island school teams to participate in the JWC. Neighbor island school students had the chance to thank him in person and also present thank you cards to be shared with his colleagues at Hawaiian Airlines.

(Top-Bottom) Hilo High School and H.P. Baldwin High School Teams present Thank you cards to Mr. Ron Samiano

JASH would also like to thank Dr. Denise Konan, Dean and Dr. Dan Ferguson, Director of International Programs and Strategic Partnerships, College of Social Sciences, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa for the generous use of the UH Mānoa facilities and their support of the Japan Wizards Competition. A big mahalo also goes to professional manga artist Mr. Kazuo Maekawa for creating kawaii artwork for our new JWC t-shirts!

Finally, our gratitude goes to 70+ 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 Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Kapiolani Community College, Hawaiʻi Tokai International College, and JTB Hawaii, just to name a few. Without their tremendous support, the JWC would not have been possible.

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