Four High School Teams Earn Trips to Japan through the Japan Wizards Competition

JASH President Ed Hawkins with Hawaiian Airlines' Ms. Monisa Cline and JTB Hawaii's Mr. Keiichi Tsujino and the winning teams.

JASH President Ed Hawkins with Hawaiian Airlines’ Ms. Monisa Cline and JTB Hawaii’s Mr. Keiichi Tsujino and the winning teams.

By 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, February 23, 135 students representing 26 schools from Oahu, Hawaii, and Maui were anxious to begin competing in the 10th annual Japan Wizards Statewide Academic Team Competition (JWC) held at Kapiolani Community College (KCC). This marks the second year that Hawaiian Airlines graciously served as overall sponsor. Consul General Toyoei Shigeeda from the Consulate General of Japan at Honolulu welcomed the students and wished them success in this year’s competition. Hawaiian Airlines Executive Monisa Cline told the gathered high school students that the qualities of personal responsibility, team work, and the rewards that accrue from hard work as exemplified in the JWC are the same ones valued by Hawaiian Airlines, and that is one of the reasons for its strong support. We again thank Hawaiian Airlines and other major supporters – ABC Stores, Atsuhiko and Ina Goodwin Tateuchi Foundation, Friends of Hawaii Charities, International Cultural and Friendship Association, JTB Hawaii, The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles – who make the competition one which high school students across the state look forward to each year.

This year, a total of 45 teams competed in two skill levels. The teams were tested on their knowledge of Japanese art, culture and tradition, food, geography, history, Japan-Hawaii ties, literature, politics and government, sports, contemporary Japan, and of course the Japanese language. Study guides were provided to registered teams in the fall to aid them in their preparation and studies.

Students enjoy a friendly game of karuta in the Activity Center

Students enjoy a friendly game of karuta in the Activity Center

The Japan-America Society of Hawaii awarded plaques to the three top scoring teams in each level. In Level A, these were Pearl City High School (1st place), Mililani High School (2nd place), and Punahou School (3rd place). The Level B winners were Punahou School (1st place), Kamehameha Schools – Kapalama (2nd place), and Mililani High School (3rd place).

The top scoring public schools to receive the Japan trip award were Pearl City High School from Level A and Mililani High School for the Level B division. Levels A and B from Punahou School 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 Punahou School, Level B.

Between competition rounds, students were kept busy with the numerous activity stations in the Activity Center. These included calligraphy, gyotaku fish printing, karuta, origami, a tea ceremony demonstration, and Jeopardy to name a few. The University of Hawaii at Manoa (UH Manoa) Department of Theatre and Dance provided a rakugo demonstration.

Volunteers assist students playing Pictionary

Volunteers assist students playing Pictionary

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 Hawaii, 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 78 volunteers representing the JET Alumni Association of Hawaii, UH Manoa, KCC, Alaka’i Young Professionals, 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.