February 25th proved to be a very eventful Saturday at Kapiolani Community College (KCC), where the 9th annual Japan Wizards Statewide Academic Team Competition (JWC) was held. By 9:00 a.m., 45 teams representing 28 schools from Oahu, Hawaii, Kauai, and Maui were anxious to begin competing in the JWC, presented by overall sponsor Hawaiian Airlines. Each year the Japan-America Society of Hawaii (JASH) brings together high school teams from across the state for a challenging, fun-filled competition designed to motivate students to learn more about Japan and help them develop lifelong skills in research, teamwork, personal responsibility and operating under pressure. Registered teams are provided study guides in the fall which provides a list of topics to aid them in their preparation and studies, including art, contemporary Japan, culture and traditions, food, geography, history, Japan-Hawaii ties, literature, politics and government, sports, and Japanese language. The competition in February is a way for the students to show what they have learned, and compete for four trips to Japan for the top scoring public and private teams in Level A (1st and 2nd year Japanese language students) and Level B (3rd and 4th year Japanese language students).
The Japan-America Society of Hawaii awarded plaques to the three top scoring teams in each level. In Level A, these were Maryknoll School (1st place), Punahou School (2nd place) and Waiakea High School (3rd place). The Level B winners were Kauai High School (1st place), Saint Andrew’s Priory School (2nd place), and Saint Francis School (3rd place).
The top scoring public schools to receive the Japan trip award were Waiakea High School (Hawaii) from Level A and Kauai High School (Kauai) for the Level B division. Maryknoll School (Level A) and Saint Andrew’s Priory School (Level B) were the recipients from the private school division. These teams (three students and an advisor each) will travel to Japan this summer to experience firsthand what they studied in the classroom and through independent research. This year’s Atsuhiko Tateuchi Memorial Award for Outstanding Scholarship went to overall top scoring team Maryknoll School, Level A.
Between competition rounds, students were kept busy with the numerous activity stations in the Activity Center. These included origami, gyotaku fish printing, karuta, calligraphy, and Jeopardy to name a few. The Ken Yu Kai Kendo Club demonstrated Japanese kendo techniques and the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UH Manoa) Department of Theatre and Dance provided a rakugo demonstration.
JASH would like to thank Hawaiian Airlines for sponsoring the Competition, and all the major supporters including ABC Stores, Atsuhiko and Ina Goodwin Tateuchi Foundation, Friends of Hawaii Charities, Hawaii Hotel Industry Foundation, International Cultural and Friendship Association, JTB Goodwill Foundation, The America-Japan Society of Tama Tokyo, and The Freeman Foundation. JASH would also like to thank all the contributors who provided prizes, snacks, drinks, and other donations that assisted with the competition. Many thanks and recognition goes to the 70 volunteers representing the JET Alumni Association of Hawaii, UH Manoa, KCC, and Hawaii Tokai International College to name a few. Without this tremendous support, the competition would not have been possible. Finally, our gratitude to the President, Chancellor and staff of Kapiolani Community College for the generous use of their facilities and for their support of the Japan Wizards Competition.