JASH hosts Japan U.S. Military Program

On June 5, 2017, JASH held its first ever JUMP event (Japan U.S. Military Program) in partnership with Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA and National Association of Japan-America Societies, and with the support of the Consulate General of Japan in Honolulu. 

Given the recent events of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region and Hawaii’s position as a crossroads between east and west, the JUMP event provided attendees with a highly relevant and engaging day of learning and conversation. Guests heard advice from a decorated United States Brigadier General, a thought provoking and provocative panel discussion with faculty from the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies and had an opportunity to connect with U.S. military service members who have served in Japan and members of the community with an interest in U.S.-Japan defense and security issues. 

JASH President Reyna Kaneko opened the day by welcoming attendees and introducing Peter Kelley, the President of National Association of Japan-America Societies, from Washington D.C.  Sal Miwa, Chairman of the Board of JASH then introduced Brigadier General (Ret) James T. Hirai, the Deputy General of Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, as the keynote speaker.

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Junior Ambassadors take on the Charity Walk!

JAs and parents at 2017 Visitor Industry Charity Walk

On May 20, the JASH Junior Ambassadors and their families along with 2017 APCC Chaperone David Nakanishi and 2018 APCC Chaperone Sandy Takeda, participated in the 2017 Visitor Industry Charity Walk. As always, the walk started in Ala Moana Beach Park and extended into Waikiki for a total of 5.25 miles. The calm walk through Waikiki provided the JAs and parents the opportunity to build upon their friendships. Along the way, the JAs stopped by a number of checkpoints where they were given various snacks and gifts from the charity walk sponsors. Despite having minor injuries prior to the walk, the six JAs finished the back at Ala Moana Beach Park to enjoy a lunch with each other. The Visitor Industry Charity Walk raise money for various charities on the island of O’ahu and the money that the Junior Ambassadors raised will help fund future APCC programs.
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Junior Ambassadors take on Camp Erdman

The JASH Junior Ambassadors (JAs) stayed at Camp Erdman from Saturday, May 6 to Sunday, May 7 for an overnight retreat to build teamwork amongst the group and prepare for their trip to Japan. At camp, the JAs practiced for the cultural performance which they will perform at the Global Bridge Festival in Fukuoka, Japan in July. They also completed the YMCA’s Team Development Course in which JAs were tasked with a variety of challenges and puzzles designed by Camp Erdman staff to encourage participants to work together and trust the other members of their team.
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Spring 2017 Japan Day

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.

Taiko Center of the Pacific shares a taiko demonstration during the Opening Ceremony.

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.

Students try their hand at soroban.

Students listen intently to Life Skills.

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.

Students learn how to put on an obi in kimono class.

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JASH 27th Annual Friendship Golf Classic


Consul General of Japan Yasushi Misawa awards the grand prize trophy to Wallace Afalava and Mark Sumida.

The JASH 27th Annual Friendship Golf Classic was held on April 20th, 2017 at Hawaii Prince Golf Club in Ewa Beach. Mahalo to Atsushi and Mayumi Takebayashi from Move4Japan for providing the delicious yakisoba! Shochu donated by Kai Vodka was used for the JASH-traditional sake kanpai at noon, followed by a taiko shotgun sendoff performance by Dragon Beat.

Thank you to Atsushi and Mayumi Takebayashi for cooking fresh yakisoba for the players and volunteers.

With the taiko drums in the background, 113 golfers descended upon the course. Despite the rainy weather that persisted from the start of the tournament through its end, players persevered through the conditions to finish all 18 holes while participating in various contests such as the Hole-in-One and Closest to the Pin contests.  Various snacks and refreshments were available at the Special Hole and the Cold Towel stations.
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Luncheon with Grant Newsham, The “Other” Side of Japan: Yakuza and their involvement in Japanese Society, Government and Business

On Thursday, April 27th, 2017, over 75 guests attended a lunch talk at the Ala Moana Hotel given by Grant Newsham on “The Other Side of Japan: Yakuza”.  Mr. Newsham provided an enthralling picture of Yakuza in today’s Japan – their involvement in all levels of Japanese society and their impact on domestic and global business and government affairs.  Mr. Newsham’s personal anecdotes and stories allowed attendees an inside look into yakuza operations and how they wield influence over infrastructure development and political figures and events.  Perhaps most surprising to the audience was learning of the yakuza presence in Hawaii.

The yakuza is a blanket term for Japan’s organized crime groups. They were traditionally federations of gamblers and street merchants and their history dates back hundreds of years. Today, there are 21 major groups with more than 53,000 members, according to the National Police Agency. Many of their money-making activities are illegal but they also run legitimate enterprises.

A Retired U.S. Marine Colonel, Mr. Newsham is an independent business risk consultant specializing in organized-crime, corruption, fraud, and other oft-overlooked threats to private companies doing international business. He lived in Japan for over 20 years and served as a U.S. Diplomat before spending over a decade with a major American financial firm fending off risk-threats to private companies.

Tomodachi – Hinamatsuri Celebration at the Japanese Consulate

Hinamatsuri Celebration at the Japanese Consulate

On March 1, 2017, Consul General Yasushi Misawa and Mrs. Yoko Misawa graciously opened their doors to hold a Hinamatsuri Celebration in their official residence for JASH members and guests. Hinamatsuri (Doll Festival) also known as Momo-no-sekku (Peach Festival) is traditionally celebrated on March 3 by the Japanese to wish for the happiness and healthy growth of girls. Households display elegant dolls called hina ningyo dressed in ancient court costumes of the Heian Period (794 – 1185).

Consul General and Mrs. Misawa welcome guests to the hinamatsuri celebration

Mrs. Misawa provided a brief background on the Hinamatsuri tradition and shared a joyful story of her own youthful experiences with those in attendance.  The guests also enjoyed a special dance performance, based on the art of Yamato gaku, uniquely interpreted into dance by Senka Segawa.  Yamato-gaku is a type of music played with a shamisen, which contains some elements of western music in a free style.  Senka choreographed and danced to the song “Fuji Murasaki.” Her dance started very quietly, like a still picture, then sprung to life; with light hand movements and steps, finishing with a flourish of wisteria flower.

Senka Segawa dances to “Fuji Murasaki”

Following the dance, guests were entertained by Bernice Hirai and Mary Yanagihara, both koto players, who shared their talent with the guests through three songs: Tanoshii Hinamatsuri, Sakura, and Hana Ikeda. To start the musical portion of the program off, guests enjoyed singing along to the popular Tanoshii Hinamatsuri song.

Thank you once again to Consul General and Mrs. Misawa for hosting this much-anticipated event. JASH would also like to thank our Tomodachi Committee members for providing additional refreshments for this event. Thank you Senka Segawa, Bernice Hirai and Mary Yanagihara for the wonderful performances.

Guests enjoy refreshments at the Japanese Consulate

JASH New Year’s Reception – January 24, 2017

On January 24, 2017, nearly 200 JASH members and guests celebrated the Year of the Rooster at its shinnenkai held at the historic Washington Place, the home of Governor David Ige and First Lady Dawn Amano Ige.

JASH Board Vice Chairman Steve Sombrero served as the evening’s emcee. Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko opened the celebration and delighted guests with a lively Okinawa-style lion dance and taiko performance.shishimai

Governor Ige, JASH Board Chairman Sal Miwa, and Board Director Howard Hamamoto — who represented the Reception’s sponsor Stanford Carr — offered welcome remarks.

Guests enjoyed a delicious buffet including traditional Japanese foods prepared by Mariposa.kagamiwari

The Japanese traditional sake cask-breaking ceremony (kagamiwari) by Governor Ige, Consul General Yasushi Misawa, Chair Miwa, Director Hamamoto, and Ms. Bruni Bradley, wife of Admiral Harry Harris, brought blessings of health, happiness and prosperity to all. Consul General Misawa offered a rousing kanpai.

JASH extends its sincere appreciation to the event’s sponsor, Stanford Carr Development LLC., who has generously supported the New Year Reception for more than 10 years. Thank you also to Board Director Duane Kawamoto and his Mariposa team, Kokusai Sake Kai, and The Cherry Company.

2017 JASH Junior Ambassadors have been selected

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The Japan-America Society of Hawaii (JASH) is pleased to announce the selection of six Junior Ambassadors (JAs) to represent JASH and Hawaii at the 29th Annual Asian-Pacific Children’s Convention (APCC) in Fukuoka, Japan in summer 2017.

The APCC is a cultural exchange program that deepens participant’s appreciation for the cultures of other nations and regions, and promotes mutual understanding and friendship, nurtures international awareness in young people, and works towards world peace and co-existence. It is hoped that the JAs will build an international network of friends.

Following the competitive application process, the six Junior Ambassadors — three boys and three girls, all age 11 — will participate in a JASH-designed six-month preparation program for their July Japan experience.

In Fukuoka, the students will meet over 200 fellow Junior Ambassadors from 40 countries and cities in the Asia-Pacific region in a global youth camp. This will be followed by a home stay where they will live with a Japanese host family. It is our hope that our Ambassadors will mature into adults with a strong sense of social responsibility.

The 2017 Junior Ambassadors are:

  1. Yuuka Brown, Waikiki Elementary
  2. Sabina Funasaki, Noelani Elementary
  3. Ryan Handa, Kainalu Elementary
  4. Rielan Hung, Maryknoll School
  5. Taryn Kimura, Moanalua Elementary
  6. Kyler Shigemi, Aina Haina Elementary

If you wish to know more about the APCC program, please visit the JASH website, www.jashawaii.org/category/apcc, or contact David Nakanishi, APCC Program Coordinator, at (808) 524-4450 or via dnakanishi@jashawaii.org.

We thank you for your continuing support of JASH.

Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visits Ehime Maru Memorial



Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the Ehime Maru Memorial at Kaka’ako Waterfront Park on December 26, 2016 during his visit to Honolulu. Prime Minister Abe was welcomed by Sal Miwa (JASH Chair) and Blair M.T. Odo (JASH and Ehime Maru Memorial Association (EMMA) Interim President), along with Earl Okawa (JASH President Emeritus) and Kenneth Saiki (EMMA Director).

“Prime Minister Abe commented how he was Cabinet Secretary at the time of the accident, and remembers well the subsequent events with sadness,” said Interim President Odo.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center, lays a wreath at the Ehime Maru Memorial at Kakaako Waterfront Park, Monday, Dec. 26, 2016, in Honolulu. The memorial is dedicated to the victims of a 2001 collision off the coast of Hawaii between the Ehime Maru, a fisheries training vessel, and a U.S. naval submarine. Several were killed, including four high school students, in the accidental collision. Shinzo Abe arrived in Hawaii on Monday to recognize the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center, lays a wreath at the Ehime Maru Memorial at Kakaako Waterfront Park, Monday, Dec. 26, 2016, in Honolulu. The memorial is dedicated to the victims of a 2001 collision off the coast of Hawaii between the Ehime Maru, a fisheries training vessel, and a U.S. naval submarine. Several were killed, including four high school students, in the accidental collision. Shinzo Abe arrived in Hawaii on Monday to recognize the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

JASH provides liaison and administrative services for EMMA. The Memorial honors the nine crew members of the Japanese fishery high school training ship Ehime Maru who lost their lives on February 9, 2001, when the tragic accident with the submarine occurred. Since then, both EMMA and JASH have facilitated various cultural and educational exchange programs to heal and strengthen relations between Ehime Prefecture and Hawaii.

Later in the evening, a reception was held for the Prime Minister at the Hawaii Convention Center, with JASH — along with other Japan-related organizations in Hawaii — playing a key planning role.