A lively taiko performance by Hyaku Sen Ki Kai Taiko, Pacific Buddhist Academy’s student taiko group, kicked off the festivities of the 2018 shinnenkai (New Year’s party) of the Japanese Women’s Society Foundation on Jan. 28 at Natsunoya Tea House.

The first event of the year for the 64-year-old organization, led by president Cathy Iwai, was an opportunity for members and their guests to enjoy a delicious lunch, fun and fellowship.

The special guests were introduced during the formal portion of the program. They included Misako Ito, wife of Consul General of Japan Koichi Ito; Hawai‘i state Sen. Michelle Kidani; Honolulu City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi; Carole Hayashino, president and executive director of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i; Christine Kubota, JCCH board chair; Reyna Kaneko, president of the Japan-America Society of Hawaii; Sheree Tamura, president of the United Japanese Society of Hawaii; and Gary Kajiwara, president and CEO of Kuakini Health Systems.

The new JWSF members were introduced during the program. They are: Reyna Kaneko, Jane Naya, Alexis Okihara, Estrella Roznerski and Sandy Takeda. Also introduced were JWSF’s grant recipients — Nippon Culture Day, represented by co-chairs Dr. Tomoko Iwai and Yuka Wada, and Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko, represented by Melissa Ching.

The entertainment portion of the program featured a “Red and White Song Festival” that pitted the women (Red Team) against the men (White Team). Local enka (ballads) participants included: Masakata Hirayama, Blane Mitsunami, Michael Nakada, Kyoko Sano, Jeffrey Sato, Aolani Silva, Sheera Tamura, Jill Teraizumi, Tanner and Devin Teruya and Jerre Tokairin. The audience used red or white paper balls to cast their votes. After the balls were collected and counted, the White Team was declared the winner.

A bake sale, lucky me prize drawings and fukubukuro (lucky grab bag) sales were held prior to the start of the luncheon. Two new Japanese Women’s Society books were also available for purchase — the updated “Kokoro: Cherished Japanese Traditions in Hawaii” and a cookbook, “Sharing Our Hearts Through Cooking.”


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