About 200 United Japanese Society of Hawaii members and supporters came together at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i’s Manoa Grand Ballroom on Jan. 23 to ring in the “Year of the Monkey.”
The day began with the observance of a moment of silence for deceased UJSH members, followed by a performance of Japanese gagaku court music by the Hawaii Gagaku Society, led by the Rev. Masatoshi Shamoto. The celebratory New Year’s dance, “Hatsuharu Sambaso” was then performed by Bando Mitsumasa II (Joyce Araki) of the Bando Sobi Kai. Later in the program, Frances Nakachi Kuba-Sensei and Mina Tamashiro of Tamagusuku Ryu Senjukai Frances Nakachi Ryubu Dojo performed the Okinawan dance, “Hana nu Kajimaya.”
UJSH president Cyrus Tamashiro welcomed everyone to the gathering. He reviewed the activities of the past year
and cited the numerous occasions when Hawai‘i’s various Nikkei community groups worked together on projects. He also noted that UJSH and longtime member Ken Saiki were recognized with the “Bridge Award” by the Japan-America Society of Hawaii for their efforts in building bridges of friendship and cooperation between Hawai‘i, the United States and Japan.
The 2015 recipients of Imperial Decorations — spring recipient Edwin Hawkins Jr. and autumn recipient Dr. Loretta Krause — were recognized, as is traditionally done at the UJSH shinnenkai. Hawkins, who was born in Japan to a Japanese mother, served in the U.S. Air Force for nearly 30 years. After retiring from the Air Force, he was appointed president of the Japan-America Society of Hawai‘i, leading JASH for eight years. Hawkins was appointed president emeritus of the JASH upon his retirement.
The March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake occurred during Hawkins’ tenure as JASH president. He immediately began organizing fundraising campaigns to assist the people in the stricken areas and developed programs aimed at easing the trauma of the tragedy for the children of Töhoku.
Hawkins was awarded The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays. He thanked the government and the people of Japan, saying, “It is one thing to be recognized by your government, but it is another thing to be recognized by the government of another country.” He said the good relations enjoyed by Japan and the United States are the result of the work of many people who may or may not be recognized. “It is on your shoulders that I stand,” Hawkins said.
Dr. Loretta Krause was recognized for her efforts to promote friendly relations and mutual understanding between Japan and the U.S. as the principal of University Laboratory School, where she introduced a kimono culture class. Krause, who was awarded The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, was instrumental in establishing numerous school partnerships with Japanese institutions. “I never thought in 1954 (when she first arrived in Hawai‘i), that I would be sitting here receiving this prestigious award.”
Also recognized during the program were the 2015 Kenjin Kai Young Achiever Awardees — Jennifer A. Kumamoto from the Hawai‘i Fukuoka Kenjin Kai, Valerie M. Kato from the Hawaii United Okinawa Association, Mariel M. Moriwake from the Honolulu Fukushima Kenjin Kai and Brandon Y. Saigusa of the Honolulu Hiroshima Kenjin Kai. All were lauded for their service to their respective kenjin kai. Saigusa spoke on behalf of the group. He said they were humbled to be recognized for their service to their kenjin kai, noting that some of the most respected leaders in our community — the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Gov. George Ariyoshi and Gov. David Ige — were once young leaders. “Okagesamade . . . thanks to all of you, we know who we are and where we come from,” he said.
Special guests included First lady Dawn Amano-Ige, who represented her husband, Gov. David Ige, and the state of Hawai‘i; city managing director Roy Amemiya, representing Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and Consul General of Japan Yasushi Misawa.
A banzai was offered to the guests, honorees and UJSH by the organization’s president-elect, Dean Asahina.
The Hawaii Kindenryu Taishokoto Kinyukai group provided the lunchtime taishokoto entertainment, which was followed by a full program of entertainment, including Japanese dances, a hula performance, singing and even line dancing. Students of Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko, led by Akemi Martin-Sensei, closed out the entertainment program with a lively eisä performance. Additionally, a raffle drawing was held for a round-trip for two to Las Vegas, donated by NGN president Dr. Dennis Ogawa. The event concluded with a tejime, led by immediate past president of the UJSH Rika Hirata.