The United Japanese Society of Hawaii honored 26 Nikkei celebrating their 80th birthday this year with a festive party on Sept. 23 at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i’s Manoa Grand Ballroom. The event, UJSH’s annual Nenchosha Ian Engei Taikai (Senior Citizens Festival), is held in conjunction with Japan’s observance of “Respect for the Aged Day,” which is a national holiday. The birthday honorees were treated to a buffet lunch and a program of Japanese and Okinawan music and dance.
A lively shishimai performance by Hawaii Okinawa Creative Arts opened the program. It was followed by the Japanese classical dance “Matsu,” meaning “pine,” which was performed by Onoe Kikunobukazu (Howard Asao) of the Kikunobu Dance Company. In Japanese tradition, the pine tree symbolizes long life. Mitsuko Toguchi Nakasone-Sensei and Diana Kawaguchi of the Lanakila Okinawa Nenchosha Club performed the auspicious Okinawan dance, “Kajadifu Bushi.”
UJSH president Sheree Tamura welcomed the honorees and their families and friends to the UJSH’s 43rd annual nenchosha program. Each year, UJSH asks the various O‘ahu kenjinkai, senior citizen clubs and community centers to identify its octogenarians and submit their names so that UJSH can recognize them at the Nenchosha Festival.
The honorees were introduced individually during the program and presented a certificate. They also had their picture taken with UJSH president Tamura and 2017 Cherry Blossom Queen Heather Omori.
Gary Simon represented Gov. David Ige in offering a congratulatory message to the honorees. Messages were also shared by Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and then-Consul General of Japan Yasushi Misawa.
The 2017 honorees were: Barbara Akamine, Stanley Balbuena, Norma Hirata, Jean Ige, Wallace Inouye, Irene Ishiyama, Takako Jenkins, Ethel Kawahara, Chizuko Kawaji, Ann Kobayashi, Donald Koga, Eleanor Miyasaki, Carl Nakamura, Grace Onuma, Nobuko Oshiro, Emmie Otake, Franklin Otake, Elaine Silva, Beatrice Sonoda, Keiko Suzuki, Sachiko Takahashi, Clara Takiguchi, Teruko Towata, Melvin Watarai, Keiko Yoshinaga and Daniel Zukemura,
UJSH past president and current member Ann Kobayashi represented her fellow octogenarians in thanking the United Japanese Society for recognizing them on reaching their eighth decade of life.
UJSH past president Clyde Matsumoto delivered the congratulatory banzai to the honorees.
The program closed with UJSH president Sheree Tamura and the Iwakuni Odori Aiko Kai dancing a lively “Matanashi Dayo Jinsei Wa.”
This year’s festival was chaired by UJSH member Karen Kuba-Hori.