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

Students enjoy the taiko demonstration during the Opening Ceremony

The Japan-America Society of Hawaii (JASH) was pleased to hold its bi-annual Japan Day, sponsored by the McInerny Foundation on October 29, 2015. The program, now in its 22nd year, is the Society’s longest running educational program. One hundred and seventy-six students representing Hui Malama Learning Center on Maui, James Campbell High School, Kamehameha School, and Mililani High School gathered together at Pacific Beach Hotel for a half-day program 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 bontemae tea ceremony.

Students try their hand at soroban

The morning started off with an Opening Ceremony in the Mauka Ballroom led by JASH President Ms. Lenny Yajima and Pacific Beach Hotel General Manager Mr. Rob Robinson welcoming the students to Japan Day. Mr. Kenny Endo, musician and taiko master, invigorated the audience with a taiko performance with members of the Taiko Center of the Pacific followed by a 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 teachers included, “Thank you so much for this wonderful cultural event!” The timing was perfect as “Culture Day” at Kamehameha Schools is next week. It was all well organized and we thoroughly enjoyed the experience,” and, “All of the students had a great time. Thank you for coordinating and giving our students this experience. It made me so happy to see them enjoying themselves and coming out of their shells to learn new things.”

Students learn the art of ikebana

To date, over 5,600 students from 57 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 in traditional Japanese arts and culture while reinforcing and complementing what is taught in the classroom. 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. Through understanding and respecting different cultures and customs, we continue to bridge the gap that leads to friendship and cultural appreciation.

Students partake in a bontemae tea ceremony

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 Joyce Wong and Mr. Stanley Hashiro; Mrs. Jessie Nakata and her daughter 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. Yasuo Kikuchi and members of MOA Hawaii. We would also like to thank Pacific Beach Hotel for the generous use of their facilities, and Kenny Endo 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.

Students learn to write calligraphy

Students create origami ghosts