The United Japanese Society of Hawaii held its 61st annual installation and recognition program at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i on June 22. The packed program included recognition of outstanding kenjinkai members and other awards presentations, installation of the 2019-2020 officers and a full program of lively entertainment.
Over the years, the UJSH has traditionally presented its Kenjin Kai Outstanding Member Awards at the installation banquet. The honorees were selected by their respective kenjinkai for their contributions and service. Outgoing UJSH president Faye Shigemura presented the awards to the honorees: Lois T. Kiyonaga (Central Oahu Kumamoto Kenjin Kai), Kunifumi Onoe (Hawaii Ehime Kenjin Kai), Richard Yasukochi (Hawaii Fukuoka Kenjin Kai), Chieko Johnson (Hawaii Kagoshima Kenjin Kai), Kyoko Ara (Hawaii Miyagi Kenjin Kai), Haruna Rosenfeld (Hawaii Miyazaki Kenjin Kai), Courtney Takara (Hawaii United Okinawa Association), Mitsuko Nagato (Hawaii Yamagata Kenjin Kai), Glenn Endo (Hawaii Yamanashi Kyoyu Kai), Ronald H. Yoshida (Honolulu Fukushima Kenjin Kai), Sandra Ishihara-Shibata (Honolulu Hiroshima Kenjin Kai), Patrick Torres (Honolulu Niigata Kenjin Kai), Helen H. Okamura (Honolulu Yamaguchi Kenjin Kai) and Leroy Nagasako (Wahiawa-Waialua Hiroshima Kenjin Kai).
Sandra Ishihara-Shibata of the Honolulu Hiroshima Kenjin Kai represented her fellow honorees in thanking UJSH for recognizing them and their service to their clubs. She noted that although they all represent their respective kenjinkai, they share a common bond in that they all perpetuate the core and cultural traditions and roots of their immigrant ancestors.
“Organizations such as ours are even more important because without the kenjinkai, our core beliefs will be lost, never to be recovered.” She encouraged the audience members to “keep our kenjinkai strong.”
Outgoing UJSH president Faye Shigemura also introduced her selections for “UJSH Member of the Year” — Annette Matsumoto — and the “UJSH Award for Contributions to the Japanese Community and Hawaii” — recently retired JCCH president Carole Hayashino.
Matsumoto got involved in the UJSH, assisting the organization and her husband, Clyde Matsumoto, a UJSH past president. Shigemura described Annette Matsumoto as “a hidden gem” to UJSH. Matsumoto thanked the Central Oahu Kumamoto Kenjin Kai and the Nishimura and Matsumoto families for their attendance at the luncheon.
Hayashino said she was accepting the award on behalf of all of JCCH’s volunteers and staff and reviewed some of their efforts over the years.
Outgoing president Faye Shigemura said her term as president of the United Japanese Society of Hawaii was “the most interesting year of my life. It was crazy busy, but it was time well spent.”
The 2019-2020 officers and directors were installed by Circuit Judge Karen Nakasone. They are: the Rev. Akihiro Okada, president; Frances Nakachi Kuba, president-elect; vice presidents Kanzo Nara, Carole Hayashino, Wallace Watanabe and Hironori Yamamoto; secretaries Annette Matsumoto and Janice Matsuura; treasurers Norman Nakasone, David Jones and Keith Sakuda; auditors Chris Kanehiro and James Y. Sato; immediate past president Faye Shigemura; and 24 directors. Consul General of Japan Koichi Ito will serve as honorary advisor.
Okada-Sensei arrived in Hawai‘i in 1984 from Ise Prefecture to work under Bishop Kawasaki at the Daijingu Temple in Nu‘uanu. He said he grew up near Ise Jingu (shrine), which he visited every day with his grandfather. “Soon the shrine became a part of me.” Okada said his family still lives in the area of Okage Yokocho, where they have a business making omamori (good luck amulet).
Okada said the community supported and helped him with his new life in Hawai‘i in countless ways, which inspired his decision to contribute to the community however he could. Okada said UJSH was instrumental in exposing him to Hawai‘i’s Japan American community.
The new president selected “Shinnen,” meaning “commitment,” as the theme for his term as president. “Everyone, let’s work together,” he urged.
The program continued with lots of entertainment and closed with vice president Wallace Watanabe leading everyone in a tejime.