The Honolulu Hiroshima Kenjin Kai held its annual membership meeting and shinnen enkai on March 11 at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i’s Manoa Grand Ballroom.
The thunderous taiko sounds of Dragon Beat opened the program. Emcees Megumi Honami and Koshin Soga, both dressed in dog costumes in celebration of the “Year of the Dog,” introduced HHKK president Wayne Miyao, who was re-elected as
Serving with him are immediate past president Robert Nagao; vice presidents Peter Kobayashi, Gregg Mueller and Darek Sato; secretaries Chiemi Okamura, Donna Masuda-Kam and Nancy Shimamoto; treasurers Kevin Nakata, Thomas Sakamoto and Sandra Ishihara-Shibata; auditors Dan Kinoshita, Richard Park III and Water Saito; historian Brandon Saigusa; and advisors Thomas Agawa, Ben Fukumoto, Chojiro Kageura, Tatsukichi Kobayashi, Robert Nagao, Ken Saiki and Wayne Toma.
Miyao said it was an honor and a privilege to serve as the club’s president. He pledged to do his utmost to develop new strategies for the club’s growth and to introduce new programs. One of Miyao’s goals for 2019 is to work with the City and County of Honolulu to create a Hiroshima Peace Garden at Honolulu Hale. He also hopes to link Hiroshima’s Peace Park and Pearl Harbor in a sister-peace park relationship. The annual Hiroshima commemoration and peace ceremony will be held on Monday, Aug. 6, at 11 a.m. at the Izumo Taishakyo Mission.
Ken Saiki reported that the Kenjin Kai continues to participate in the clean-up of the Ehime Maru Memorial at Kaka‘ako Waterfront Park and the Hiroshima Torii in Mö‘ili‘ili, a service they have been involved in for 15 years.
Picnic committee chair Peter Kobayashi reported that HHKK’s summer picnic will be held Sunday, July 22, at Ala Moana Park’s Area 9. The picnic will feature the much-anticipated “Golden Harvest” of vegetables and extra prizes.
HHKK once again cooked, sold — and sold out — its Hiroshima’s popular okonomiyaki at the annual Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i New Year’s ‘Ohana Festival. The club sold 544 okonomiyaki, which were gone in four hours. The 2018 sales bring the kenjin kai’s okonomiyaki sales total to 12,035. HHKK members had valuable volunteer help from Roosevelt and McKinley high schools and Washington Middle School students.
Student exchange and scholarship co-chair Kacy Sumikawa reported that HHKK’s $1,000 scholarship had awarded to Monica Miyo Shimabukuro, currently a student at Waseda University in Tökyö. Kaylin Tsukamoto participated in the Hiroshima homestay for high school students. Sumikawa encouraged members to share information about the homestay and scholarship with their children and grandchildren.
President Wayne Miyao presented the Outstanding Member Recognition to past president Robert Nagao and the Young Achiever award to Koshin Soga. Each received the coveted okonomiyaki spatula trophy as gratitude for their valuable work.
Also recognized was HHKK member Dorothy Chihoko Nakamura, who is celebrating her 80th birthday this year.
Also in attendance at the shinnen kai was a delegation from Hiroshima, led by Katsuyuki Sasaki, managing director of the Hiroshima Convention & Visitors Bureau; Masuko Takamori from Hiroshima’s Tourism Promotion Department; and Hiroshima “Goodwill Ambassadors” Yu Nakajo, Hatsumi Morita and Kaori Mihara. The ambassadors introduced themselves, sang a few songs and led the audience in singing the “Hiroshima Kibun” song.
The audience was also treated to a repertoire of songs by professional Japanese singer Yousuke Maki, who serenaded his way through the audience. Maki joins the HHKK for its shinnen kai whenever he can, traveling to Hawai‘i at his own expense.
Katsuyuki Sasaki from the Hiroshima Convention & Visitors Bureau and state Sen. Brian Taniguchi offered the kampai — Sasaki to the HHKK, and Taniguchi to the guests.