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Japan-America Society of Hawaii Japan Day Fall 2020

JASH held its Fall Japan Day program sponsored by the McInerny Foundation and the Freeman Foundation during the months of December 2020 through January 2021 via interactive video workshops featuring karate and manga. Approximately 510 students from Aiea High School, Kapolei High School, Kealakehe High School, Niu Valley Middle School, Waiakea High School and Waipahu High School participated in the first-ever virtual Japan Day program. Held twice a year, Japan Day is JASH’s longest running educational program which is offered free to Hawaii’s middle and high schools. Since its inception in 1993, over 6,700 students from 65 different public and private schools have participated in this educational event.

With the inability to hold in-person programs due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, JASH transformed the conventional Japan Day program to a virtual offering so that students can experience Japanese culture and art remotely from their homes or classrooms. Two volunteer instructors were invited to lead tutorials which were filmed and edited into 20-minute videos by a professional videographer. The video links were shared with the schools invited to participate in the Japan Day program. Generous funding from the McInerny Foundation has enabled JASH to produce high-quality videos of select Japanese cultural activities and expand the Japan Day program to include more schools, thereby impacting more students. Additional funding from the Freeman Foundation allowed more neighbor island schools to participate virtually as well.

Japan Day provides students with hands-on experience in 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. A student from Waiakea High School wrote in the post-program survey, “I found both sessions really interesting and informative. I've never taken self-defense classes before so karate was a new experience that I learned from. Manga are also things that I read all the time so being able to draw characters like manga artists was like a dream come true.”

Instructor Jordan Silva demonstrates karate moves.

Instructor Kazuo Maekawa offers step-by-step instructions.

JASH would like to thank the generous sponsors of Japan Day: The McInerny Foundation and the Freeman Foundation. In addition, a big MAHALO to the volunteer experts for their dedication to the program: Mr. Jordan Silva from the Japan International Karate Center for the karate session, and Mr. Kazuo Maekawa, professional manga artist for manga drawing lesson.

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