The Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i honored five individuals at its annual “Sharing the Spirit of Aloha” annual gala dinner at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Coral Ballroom on July 25. Honored were Maui-born sumotori and stablemaster Jesse “Takamiyama” Kuhaulua, architect John Hara, Monsanto Hawaii community affairs manager Alan Takemoto and Olympic gold medalist in figure skating Kristi Yamaguchi. The “Spirit of JCCH” Award was presented to longtime JCCH volunteer Tatsumi Hayashi and the Internment Education Committee. The committee is made up of Jane Kurahara, Betsy Young Gale Kobayashi, Claire Sato, Marilyn Higashide, Linda Harada, Les Goto, Lloyd Nakamura, John Okutani and Ellen Okazaki. Entertainment was provided by Gordon Mark, Ohana Arts and Taiko Center of the Pacific.
Gov. David Ige said the honorees “inspire us to be better than we can be.” Consul General of Japan Yasushi Misawa, who had just arrived in Hawai‘i a week earlier, congratulated the honorees. He said that as a child growing up in Japan, he had watched Takamiyama’s matches. And, of Yamaguchi, Misawa said he thought she was “the most elegant skater he had ever seen” as he watched her compete on television.