Members of the Wakaba Kai Sorority gathered at Natsunoya Tea House on Oct. 5 for the group’s 65th anniversary reunion.
The original Wakaba Kai Club was organized in 1927 when the University of Hawai‘i dean of women felt there was a need to form ethnic organizations to foster and perpetuate the group’s own culture.
The Wakaba Kai Club promoted Japanese culture and also served as a community service organization. However, all ethnic clubs were forced to disband after the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and the start of World War II in the Pacific.
In 1949, a group of university students interested in restarting Wakaba Kai as a sorority asked Lillian Yajima to be their advisor. Yajima had been the club’s last president prior to the outbreak of the war.
Membership in the new organization was open to women of all ethnic backgrounds. Of their many service projects, the biggest took place in 1952, when members organized food and clothing drives to benefit Licensed Agencies for Relief in Asia, or LARA. This organization sought to coordinate efforts in occupied Japan so that there would be a single point of contact with the military authorities.
Although the Wakaba Kai sorority has since disbanded, its members continue to stay in touch with each other. Plans are in the works to create a Wakaba Kai alumni organization to serve as a social and networking group for its members.