2011 Japan Wizards Japan Trip Winners Explore Japan

JWC Aiea High School team with Ehime Governor Tokihiro Nakamura and two University of Hawaii interns from EPIC

June proved to be a very eventful month for two winning teams from Aiea High School and Baldwin High School (Maui) as they explored Japan as reward for placing in the Japan Wizards Statewide Academic Team Competition (JWC) held in February. Part of the Japan trip prize included an all-day educational experience arranged by the Japan-America Society of Hawaii (JASH). On June 9, student team members Kelly Hamamura, Samantha Kinoshita, Christina Wine, and advisor Rory Sato from Baldwin High School (Level B 3rd place winners) were graciously hosted by the Kitakyushu Japan-America Society (Kitakyushu JAS) and the Japan-America Society of Fukuoka (JAS Fukuoka).  This is the first time for any JWC team to be hosted in Fukuoka prefecture on the island of Kyushu, thanks to Kitakyushu JAS and JAS Fukuoka! Besides riding the new Kyushu shinkansen (bullet train) and eating the authenticumegaemochi in Dazaifu, the highlight of the educational experience was visiting the TOTO Factory in Kokura city. Kelly Hamamura wrote in her trip essay, “We were able to learn about a part of Japan that not many foreigners take the time to notice and that is integrated into every part of Japan. The TOTO Factory was historically very informative, and learning about how toilets evolved over the years was very interesting.” 


On June 20, student team members Tiffany Lo, Carly Namihira, Ellen Wauters, and advisor Christine Uchida from Aiea High School (Level A 2nd place winners) were treated to an amazing educational program in Ehime prefecture, on the island of Shikoku. Ms. Noriko Omori from the Ehime Prefectural International Center (EPIC) kindly arranged a visit to a local high school, a courtesy visit with the Governor of Ehime Mr. Tokihiro Nakamura, and sightseeing in Matsuyama city. Interestingly, one of the team members Ellen Wauters was an exchange student from Belgium for the academic year 2010-2011 and decided to participate in the competition just for the experience! Ellen remarked, “We got to see so many things and do so much! I brought back precious memories with me to Belgium and I will definitely go back to Japan someday. I could write about my experience in Japan [in] pages and pages of anecdotes.”

JWC Baldwin High School team with TOTO Factory staff and Ms. Miho Harada from Kitakyushu JAS

JASH would like to send a big Arigatougozaimashita to Mr. Motoyuki Murahashi and supporters from JAS Fukuoka, Ms. Miho Harada and supporters from Kitakyushu JAS, Ms. Omori and supporters from EPIC, Governor Nakamura, and the TOTO Factory for welcoming our JWC teams to Japan and allowing them to discover its beauty. Christina Wine from Baldwin High School said it perfectly: “To find that there are Japanese people with as high a regard for Hawaii as ours for Japan was to find a little beauty in humanity; all its curiosity and warmth…The ‘everyday’ Japan that lives under the tourist radar was dazzling…I am certain that everyone on our team left changed in various ways, but we all had the same desire ringing in our heads – return to Japan!”