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.