Over 130 high school students enjoyed a morning immersed in Japanese culture at JASH’s bi-annual Japan Day, sponsored by the Hawaii Community Foundation’s Youth Matters and Lanai Community Fund on May 9. 2017. Held at the Pacific Beach Hotel, Japan Day is celebrating 25 years of bringing together students and experts in a variety of traditional Japanese art forms and is the Society’s longest running educational program. Students from Kalani High School, Lanai High and Elementary School (LHES), Moanalua High School and Punahou 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. Following the welcome ceremony, students then proceeded to their cultural classes presented by 30 volunteer experts on bon dance, calligraphy, ikebana (flower arranging), karate, 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 throughout the morning.
Funding from the Hawaii Community Foundation’s Lanai Community Benefit Fund enabled JASH to bring the entire inaugural class of Japanese language students at LHES to the Japan Day program. Thirteen 7th and 8th graders attended the program and all expressed how much they enjoyed participating in the various Japanese cultural sessions. When posed with the question, After experiencing Japan Day, how has your interest in Japan been affected? One student responded, “In the future I want to visit Japan and I want to communicate with them.” Another student wrote, “Someday I would love to travel to Japan.” The ability to expose middle school students to a different culture helps broaden their global perspective and speaks to the mission of our organization. At the conclusion of the Japan Day program, the Lanai students went on a short tour at the East-West Center (EWC) and the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UHM) campus. The last stop for the group was a visit to the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii’s (JCCH) exhibit, Okage Sama De: I am what I am because of you. The students had recently had a mural project where they learned about Lanai’s plantation history. Learning about the Japanese immigrants’ experience inspired them to think about their own heritage.
Since 1993, over 5,900 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 understanding and respecting different cultures and customs, we continue to bridge the gap that leads to friendship and cultural appreciation. Prior to attending Japan Day, students were asked to rate their familiarity with and interest in each of the sessions that they were going to participate in at Japan Day. This prepared the students for the event itself and helped them focus further on the various activities they attended.
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 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; Mr. and Mrs. Jordan Silva of Japan International Karate Center and Mr. Earl Okawa, former President of Japan-America Society of Hawaii. We would also like to thank Pacific Beach Hotel for the generous discounted use of their facilities, and Kenny Endo and the Taiko Center of the Pacific for their inspirational taiko performance and demonstration. For more information on this and other educational programs, please contact Elizabeth Stanton-Barrera at 524-4450 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.