Members and supporters of the United Japanese Society of Hawaii welcomed the “Year of the Boar” at the organization’s 60th annual shinnen enkai on Jan. 12 at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i.
After observing a moment of silence in memory of deceased UJSH members, Onoe Kikunobukazu (Howard Asao) and Onoe Kikunobutomi (Brandon Goda) performed the New Year’s celebratory dance, “Gekkyuden.”
UJSH president Faye Shigemura welcomed everyone to the celebration and thanked the organization’s officers for their hard work and for serving as mentors to future officers.
One of the time-honored traditions of the UJSH shinnenkai is the recognition of the previous year’s imperial decoration recipients. The 2018 decorations were presented to spring awardees Stewart W. Holbrook, who received The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon; Kenneth H. DeHoff Jr., recipient of The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette; and Bishop Ryokan Ara, who received The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays. Fall awardee Gary K. Kajiwara received The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette. Holbrook is former director of intelligence for U.S. Forces Japan, and DeHoff previously served as executive director of the Pacific Aviation Museum. Ara, who passed away a few days later, was the longtime bishop of the Tendai Mission of Hawaii. Kajiwara is president and CEO of Kuakini Health System.
The 2018 Kenjin Kai Young Achiever Awards were also presented during the program. This year’s honorees were Hawaii Fukuoka Kenjin Kai member Lori Nakamura, Hanae Gushiken Higa from the Hawaii United Okinawa Association; and Megumi Honami from the Honolulu Hiroshima Kenjin Kai. Honami spoke on behalf of her fellow “Achievers.”
Nakamura is an English Language teacher at Hahaione Elementary School and an active member of the the Hawaii Fukuoka Kenjin Kai. Okinawa-born Hanae Gushiken Higa immersed herself in Okinawan culture after moving to Hawai‘i. Higa is an architect and actively involved in the Hawaii United Okinawa Association and several of its locality clubs. Megumi Honami, an attorney with Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert, is a member of Honolulu Hiroshima Kenjin Kai.
Special guests included Gov. David Ige, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, Consul General of Japan Koichi Ito, state Rep. Bertrand Kobayashi and members of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force.
Banzai were offtered by UJSH past president Rika Hirata and Capt. Masanori Amemiya of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force.
The remainder of the program was devoted to entertainment.