The Japan-America Society of Hawaii (JASH) held its bi-annual Japan Day, sponsored by JASH Board Director Jean Rolles, on October 27, 2016 at Pacific Beach Hotel.
The Japan Day program, now in its 24th year, is the Society’s longest running educational program that brings together – in a single location- numerous experts in traditional Japanese arts and culture to provide students with hand-on experiences to make their study of Japan come alive. Nearly 150 students representing Damien Memorial School, Kapolei High School, Nanakuli High School, St. Joseph High School and University Laboratory School took part in the various cultural classes.
Members of the Taiko Center of the Pacific invigorated the atmosphere with their taiko demonstration during the Welcome Ceremony. As one student wrote, “You could feel the beat going around you; it was such an amazing thing to experience. The performances were absolutely amazing and beautiful.”
Following the Ceremony, students then completed a rotation of cultural classes presented by 30 volunteer experts 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.” Each student had the opportunity to participate in four different cultural sessions.
After Japan Day, the students shared their thoughts on the various sessions.
Some focused on the volunteer instructors, “The instructor made the story-gami (origami) unique, and it was so addicting playing with the bats that we all made. I wish we could do it again.” Another student enjoyed the soroban instructor, saying that, “he was enthusiastic, made the session interactive, and lots of fun. I liked how he made solving each equation like a race and challenged us.”
Other students focused on the cultural aspect of Japan Day. One student said, “Calligraphy is something really nice. It makes me feel closer to my culture.” Another commented, “The history behind the bon dance was very interesting. My teammates and I very much enjoyed dancing and having a fun time.”
For others, the Japan Day sessions allowed students to reflect on their own lives. A student from Damien Memorial said that ikebana “was very interesting, and the values taught through the rules we’re inspiring.”
A Kapolei student who attended the life skills session said, “I learned a lot about how I should strive to do better to get somewhere I am happy with in life.”
Since 1993, over 5,800 students from 59 different schools have participated in 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 promoting the understanding and respecting of different cultures and customs, JASH continues to bridge the gap that leads to friendship and cultural appreciation.
Prior to attending Japan Day, students were asked to rate their familiarity with each of the sessions that they were going to participate in. This prepared the students for the event itself and helped them focus further on the various activities they participated in.
JASH thanks all the volunteer experts for sharing their respective crafts. Without such support, this JASH program would not be possible. These sensei are 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 Ms. Dawn Kanno of MOA Hawaii; Mrs. Jean Sakihara and members of Kimono Project USA; Ms. Ashley Nishihara and Ms. Lynn Masumoto of Hawaii Origami Club; Mr. and Mrs. Hideaki Oshima from Araki Hiroya Soroban School; and Mr. Earl Okawa.
A big mahalo to the Pacific Beach Hotel for the use of their facilities, and Chizuko 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.