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

Students try their hand at soroban

The Society held its bi-annual Japan Day program, sponsored by the McInerny Foundation, on March 10, 2016. The program, now in its 23rd year, is the Society’s longest running educational program. Over 100 students representing Farrington High School, Hanalani Schools, Hilo High School and Saint Louis School gathered together at Pacific Beach Hotel for a half-day of Japanese cultural activities. 35 volunteer experts presented cultural classes on bon dance, calligraphy, ikebana (flower arranging), kimono/yukata wear, origami, soroban (Japanese abacus), and “Life Skills and Personal Success: Attributes of a Global Citizen.” 

Earl Okawa teaches students how to gain life skills and personal success

The morning started off with an Opening Ceremony in the Mauka Ballroom led by JASH President Lenny Yajima and Pacific Beach Hotel General Manager Rob Robinson welcoming the students to Japan Day. Ms. Chizuko Endo and members of the Taiko Center of the Pacific invigorated the audience with a taiko performance. The students then proceeded to their various activities. Each student had the opportunity to participate in four different cultural sessions throughout the morning.

Students enjoy the taiko demonstration during the Opening Ceremony

Students enjoy the taiko demonstration during the Opening Ceremony

To date, over 5,700 students from 59 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 respect for different cultures and customs, we continue to bridge the gap between Japan and the U.S., and encourage friendship and cultural appreciation.

Students learn how to dress in traditional kimono

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, Scott Macri, Nin Gan and Lynn Masumoto of Hawaii Origami Club; Mr. and Mrs. Hideaki Oshima from Araki Hiroya Soroban School; and Mr. Earl Okawa, Dean of I-Lion School and President Emeritus of JASH. We would also like to thank Pacific Beach Hotel for the generous discounted use of their facilities, and Chizuko Endo and the Taiko Center of the Pacific for their inspirational taiko 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 practice calligraphy

Students dance Bon – Odori