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Japan-America Society of Hawaii Japan Day Fall 2023

On November 2, 2023, JASH held its Fall Japan Day program, sponsored by the McInerny Foundation and the Freeman Foundation. Approximately 200 students from Kalani High School, Kapaa High School, King Kekaulike High School, Konawaena High School, Pearl City High School, St. Joseph School, University Laboratory School, Waiakea High School, and Washington Middle School gathered at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii’s Generations Ballroom to enjoy the day’s activities. 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 7,800 students from 67 different public and private schools have participated in this educational event. Japan Day has been held virtually due to the pandemic, so we were very excited to bring it back in-person for the first time since Fall 2019. Generous funding from the McInerny Foundation has enabled JASH to 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 as well.

Students gather for the Opening Ceremony

Taiko performance by members from Taiko Center of the Pacific

The morning started out with a lively taiko demonstration by the Taiko Center of the Pacific. Following the opening ceremony, students attended four of the eight cultural sessions presented by nearly 40 volunteer experts on bon dance, calligraphy, ikebana (flower arranging), karate, kendama, origami, soroban (Japanese abacus), and tea ceremony. Following the Japan Day program, neighbor island students from the Big Island, Kauai, and Maui were given private gallery tours of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii’s exhibit, Okage Sama De: I am what I am because of you. Neighbor island schools also visited other areas on Oahu, including Stix Asia and Byodo-In Temple, before flying back to their respective islands.

Students learn bon dance moves

Students practice calligraphy strokes

Students learn how to fold origami

Students learn some basics of ikebana

Japan Day provides students with hands-on experience in traditional Japanese arts and culture while reinforcing and complementing what is taught in the classroom. A student from Pearl City High School wrote in the post-program survey, “I had a lot of fun! I got a chance to get a deep dive into aspects of Japanese culture that I likely never would’ve on my own, some of which I’d never even thought or heard of! Each lesson was engaging and informative…” Japan Day also illustrates how art and culture in different societies can influence and enhance people’s lives. A student from University Laboratory School commented, “It was a fun, interactive experience that taught me about the traditional art forms and activities in Japan. I enjoyed participating in the ones I was in, learning about the culture and history behind each one.”

Students learn about the art of tea ceremony from members of the Urasenke Foundation Hawaii

Students learn some karate moves

Students learn how to use the soroban

Students practice playing kendama

JASH would like to thank the generous sponsors of Japan Day: McInerny Foundation and the Freeman Foundation. In addition, a big MAHALO to all the volunteer experts for their dedication to the program: Ms. Lydia Morikawa and members of Hawaii Shin Kobukai (bon dance); Ms. Hiromi Peterson, also known as Toka and members of Toka Shodo Calligraphy (calligraphy); Ms. Dawn Kanno and family of MOA Hawaii (ikebana); Mr. Scott Macri and members of Hawaii Origami Club (origami); Mr. Hideaki Oshima from Araki Hiroya Soroban School (soroban); Mr. Hitoshi Murata and members of the Urasenke Foundation (tea ceremony); and Mr. Jordan Silva and family of Japan International Karate Center (karate). A special thanks to JASH staff, for leading the kendama session. JASH would also like to thank the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii for providing the tours of the Okage Sama De Gallery for the neighbor island students, and the Taiko Center of the Pacific for their inspirational taiko performance and demonstration. Finally, we appreciate volunteers, Cathy Matsuzaki and Geri Cheng for assisting us that day.

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