Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Consul General of Japan Toyoei Shigeeda marked the third anniversary of the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake by hosting a reception at his residence for students from a high school in Sendai and various Hawaii organizations that supported the recovery effort following the disaster.

Students from Tokiwagi Gakuen (in pink Hawaiian print sarongs) with their chaperones, community leaders and Consul General Toyoei Shigeeda (far right).

Students, teachers and chaperones from Tokiwagi Gakuen, a girls school in Sendai, met with representatives of the Japan-America Society of Hawaii, Rainbow for Japan Kids, Nadeshiko Club and Bridge Club Hawaii. The students, who won the 2012 and 2013 Hula Girls Koshien Competition, a high school girls hula competition, expressed their appreciation by sharing a presentation on the community’s recovery efforts and by performing hula.

Shigeeda praised the organizations for their quick response and assistance following the disaster. “Hawai‘i was a main player in providing support to Töhoku and Sendai from the first day, and I’m confident that this action will continue,” he said.

Representatives of the organizations spoke as well, committing to continue supporting the people of Töhoku. The Japan-America Society of Hawaii served as the conduit for donations through the “Aloha for Japan” effort. One month after the tsunami, $1 million was presented to the Japan Red Cross; by April 2013, just under $4 million had been raised. JASH president Ed Hawkins said he has traveled to Japan at least five times in the last two years to present donation checks to the Japan Red Cross.

Tamayo Matsumoto and Bishop Eric Matsumoto join state president Janet Honda and Big Island president Linda Nagai in thanking Duane Kurisu (center) for addressing the 12th State BWA membership conference.

With support from co-sponsors, JASH also started the Rainbow for Japan Kids program, which brings Japanese children who were directly affected by the disaster to Hawai‘i for rest, recuperation and physical/psychological relief. Exchange programs and camp stays with Hawai‘i youngsters have led to lasting friendships.
Bridge Club Hawaii serves as an alumni association of sorts for youth who participated in the Asian-Pacific Children’s Convention. Participants develop friendships and networks between Hawai‘i and Japan.

As part of the Hawaii Senior Life Enrichment Association, the Nadeshiko Club supports Japan, especially its women and children, by selling handmade crafts imported from Japan at charity events throughout Hawai‘i. The proceeds are sent to Japan. Hiromi Okawa of the Nadeshiko Club said such support provides jobs for the Japanese people who make the crafts. Aside from handmade goods, the group hopes to eventually import such food items as sake, rice and seafood from the Töhoku region. However, strict regulations must be adhered to, especially since the area was exposed to radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

Plans are in the works to convene a “Tohoku-Hawai‘i Future Summit” in early August at the University of Hawai‘i at Mänoa and the East-West Center so that youths from Töhoku and Hawai‘i can exchange information and ideas and collaborate on creating future-oriented U.S.-Japan relationships.

The Tokiwagi Gakuen students also visited Hilo for the second straight year. They visited with St. Joseph High School students and seniors at Hilo Day Care Center. Last year, they shared their earthquake and tsunami experiences with the St. Joseph students. This year, they made a presentation on Japanese and local Hawaiian culture.
The Tokiwagi students also visited Kïlauea volcano and other sites to learn more about native Hawaiian history and culture.


“Peace and Oneness of Life” was the theme of the 12th State Membership Conference of the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii Federation of Buddhist Women’s Associations. More than 250 delegates and guests from Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, Maui and Hawai‘i island gathered at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at
Keauhou Bay on May 3 and 4 for religious services, craft workshops, PowerPoint presentations and more.

The conference is held every four years. This year, it was hosted by the Hawaii Island United Hongwanji BWA and chaired by its president, Linda Nagai. The local conference is normally held before the World Buddhist Women’s Convention, which will be held next year in Canada.

Federation president Janet Honda presided over the conference’s general membership meeting. The federation, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, presented resolutions of appreciation to Harue Furumoto of Honoka‘a and Motoe Tada of Hilo for their many years of service to the BWA. Also in attendance were past federation presidents Fusae Kiyokawa, Carol Yamamoto and Donna Higashi.

Big Island native Duane Kurisu, who is chairman and CEO of aio, the corporate parent of a number of media organizations and other businesses, delivered the keynote address at the Saturday luncheon. He spoke on the subject of fukubun, meaning introspection to discern one’s readiness to accept an obligation and carry it out successfully. Kurisu told the story of the education of princes and princesses in Japan, where they learn not only the three R’s, but a way of life that includes respect, responsibility, thankfulness, discipline and integrity. They are taught to complete a task no matter how difficult, and to live without things they may want.

Kurisu asked the attendees if they have fukubun, noting that in today’s technology-driven world, one need only press a button to analyze others, instead of analyzing themselves. He encouraged the participants to make time for introspection, to learn the old ways and traditional values, for in learning the lessons of the past, one learns to put people first.

Attendees also enjoyed a banquet with entertainment by Ron Miyashiro, the Kona Hongwanji Taiko Group and the Kahakai Elementary School Ukulele Ensemble. They also participated in workshops on meditation, yoga and recycled crafts, and enjoyed a walking tour of the Sheraton Kona’s historic Keauhou grounds.


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