Twenty Japanese junior high school boys and girls visited Hawaii in July as participants in the Rainbow for Japan Kids program. The students ranging from 12-14 were from the three affected prefectures in Japan – Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima. This is the fourth group of Japanese children to visit Hawaii under this program and brings the total to nearly 100.
The program does not include home stays with host families; rather, it relies on building friendships with local children of roughly the same ages through stays in camps and other outdoor activities. As in previous visits, the children stayed several days at YMCA’s Camp Erdman on the north shore of Oahu, followed by a visit to the Big Island for several days at Kilauea Military Camp where they engaged in hiking, nature tours, and stargazing.
A highlight of the visit includes a water activity. This time, the staff of Hilton Grand Vacations prepared stand-up paddle-boarding and kayak races at Hilton’s new lagoon next to Waikiki Beach. Afterwards, the children moved to the Hale Koa military hotel where they watched fireworks while enjoying a BBQ dinner.
Through these activities, the program aims to free the students from their day-to-day existence in Japan briefly, focus on their own lives and dreams, create friendships with local people, and return them to Japan refreshed and dedicated to bettering their lives and their communities.
This program is possible only because of the generosity of companies and groups who provide in-kind donations of hotel rooms, meals, local transportation, and activities. Halekulani Hotel prepared a welcome dinner, KoAloha Ukulele donated material and staff time for the children to make their own personal ukulele, and Pagoda Hotel provided rooms.
RFJK is a proud partner with TOMODACHI, a private-public partnership led by the U.S. Embassy and the U.S.-Japan Council. More information on these programs can be found on JASH website at www.jashawaii.org, or by calling JASH at (808) 524-4450 and also on the U.S. Embassy website at http://japan.usembassy.gov.