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Japan-America Society of Hawaii Japan Day Fall 2021

(L-R) Instructor Kenny Endo and members of the Taiko Center of Pacific demonstrate taiko drumming;

Instructor Hitoshi Murata introduces the Way of Tea.

JASH held its Fall Japan Day program sponsored by the McInerny Foundation and the Freeman Foundation during the month of December 2021 via interactive video tutorials featuring karate, manga, Peace Studies/Sadako Sasaki Story, soroban, calligraphy, taiko, and tea ceremony. Approximately 330 students from Baldwin High School, Kapaa High School, Konawaena High School, Lahainaluna High School, Le Jardin Academy, Leilehua High School, Roosevelt High School, St. Joseph High School, and St. Louis School participated in the virtual Japan Day program this fall. 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 7,400 students from 65 different public and private schools have participated in this educational event.

Instructor Hiromi Peterson offers step-by-step calligraphy instructions.

With the inability to hold in-person programs due to the 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. Thanks to our volunteer instructors, we were able to expand the selection of Japanese cultural activities to include calligraphy, taiko, and tea ceremony this time in addition to four video segments on karate, manga, Peace Studies/Sadako Sasaki Story, and soroban (Japanese abacus) we previously produced.

The links for these video segments 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.

Through virtual Japan Day, students are encouraged to follow the video lessons and get hands-on experience in Japanese arts and culture by participating in the activities while they watch. 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 Leilehua High School commented in the post-program survey, “I think that this was overall an incredibly fun experience. I got to learn so much more about the Japanese Culture and now I can share it with others!”

Chibi characters St. Joseph High School students drew on display in their classroom.

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, Mr. Kazuo Maekawa, professional manga artist for his manga drawing lesson, Mr. Hideaki Oshima from the Araki Hiroya Soroban School for the soroban tutorial, Mrs. Naomi Hirano-Omizo for Peace Studies/Sadako Sasaki Story segment, Mrs. Hiromi Peterson, Toka for the calligraphy lesson, Mr. Kenny Endo and the Taiko Center of the Pacific for their taiko demonstrations, and Mr. Hitoshi Murata from the Urasenke Foundation for the tea ceremony session.

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