Japan-America Society of Hawaii Holds Spring 2015 McInerny Foundation’s Japan Day

2015JD3 The Japan-America Society of Hawaii (JASH) was pleased to hold its bi-annual Japan Day, sponsored by the McInerny Foundation on May 6, 2015. The program, now in its 22nd year, is the Society’s longest running educational program. 130 students representing Hawaii Preparatory Academy, Island Pacific Academy, Kailua High School and Mid-Pacific Institute gathered together at Toho No Hikari Hawaii for a half-day program full of Japanese cultural activities. Over 30 volunteer experts presented cultural classes on bon dance, calligraphy, ikebana (flower arranging), kimono/yukata wear, origami, soroban (Japanese abacus), and tea ceremony. 

The morning started off with a Welcome Ceremony in the Social Hall led by JASH President Lenny Yajima and Toho No Hikari Administrator Jody Kanemaru welcoming the students to Japan Day. Members of the Taiko Center of the Pacific then invigorated the audience with their taiko performance and detailed explanation of taiko. The students then proceeded to their various activities. Each student had the opportunity to participate in four different cultural sessions throughout the morning. Comments made by the students included, “This Japan Day experience helped me further understand and appreciate Japan’s culture and activities,” and, “I liked the activities because I got to be out of my comfort zone and learn new things.”

Students enjoy the taiko demonstration during the Welcome Ceremony

Students learn the art of calligraphy

To date, over 5,500 students from 56 different schools have experienced Japan Day. This unique program is one of two programs offered by JASH to Hawaii’s high school students, with the other being the Japan Wizards Statewide Academic Team Competition. Japan Day provides students with hands-on experience with traditional Japanese arts and culture while reinforcing and complementing what is taught in the classroom setting. As one student commented, “Japan Day was interesting. We got a window into Japanese culture.” Japan Day also illustrates how art and culture in different societies can influence and enhance people’s lives, and how these cultural values are perpetuated by devotees of the arts. Another student said, “This was a great hands-on experience to learn Japanese culture.” Through understanding and respecting different cultures and customs, we continue to bridge the gap that leads to friendship and cultural appreciation.

Beautiful yukata are donned by the students

Students try their hand at soroban

JASH would like to thank all the volunteer experts for their dedication to the program, for without them, this program would not be possible: Ms. Betty Dela Cuesta and members of Hawaii Shin Kobukai; calligraphy master Mrs. Setsuko Tokumine, her assistant Ms. Joyce Wong and Mr. Stanley Hashiro; Mrs. Jessie Nakata and her daughter Ms. Dawn Kanno of MOA Hawaii; Mrs. Jean Sakihara and members of Kimono Project USA; Ms. Ashley Nishihara of Hawaii Origami Club; Mr. and Mrs. Hideaki Oshima from Araki Hiroya Soroban School; and Mr. Yoshibumi Ogawa and members of Urasenke Foundation. We would also like to thank Toho No Hikari Hawaii for the generous use of their facilities, and the Taiko Center of the Pacific for their inspirational taiko performance and demonstration. Please visit the JASH Facebook page for more photos of the event. For more information on this educational program, please contact Elizabeth Stanton-Barrera at 524-4450 or via email at ebarrera@jashawaii.org.

Volunteers teach the students how to bon dance