The Japan-America Society of Hawaii has rescheduled its 30th Annual Friendship Golf Classic, sponsored by Pacific Guardian Life, for Monday, Nov. 2. The popular sporting event was originally planned for April 6 but postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

For new donors, entering players in the tournament itself is currently not possible, due to social-distancing guidelines that limit O‘ahu golf-course capacity. However, promotional Hole Sponsorships are still available for purchase at $500, according to the JASH website. These Hole Sponsors will receive tee or green signage, as well as recognition in the tournament program, said JASH’s site.

For more information about a Hole Sponsorship and other sponsor levels (such as Celebrity Sponsorships), or any other questions on the tournament, please contact Justin George, GS Events Hawaii, at (808) 778-2747, or justin@gsehawaii.com. Though the event is at capacity at 90 players, updates will be made for interested parties, if space becomes available.

Additionally, JASH has organized a special “Ball Drop” fundraiser as part of this tournament. Donors can purchase (i.e., pay to donate) golf balls online for $10/ball, to be dropped from a helicopter at 11:10 a.m. on Nov. 2, just before the tournament begins.

The 1,000-ball drop will result in a grand prize of a two-night stay in a three- or four-bedroom residence at Timbers Kaua‘i, two round-trip inter-island air tickets, a free round of golf for two, a private waterfall tour and a “shwag bag,” if entrants’ purchased balls are among the golf balls which end up filling the designated course hole or fall nearest to that hole (according to contest judges). Entrants do not have to be present to purchase a ball, and can buy as many balls as they wish, in this event sponsored by Timbers Kaua‘i and Maunaloa Helicopters. For detailed rules about this event, or to use PayPal to buy golf balls, see jashawaii.org/2020-golf-ball-drop.

After this day of outdoor fun, the golf tournament’s winners as well as those whose golf balls won the helicopter-drop contest, will be announced via a streaming video; see jashawaii.org/ for details.


To remind visitors from Japan, during COVID-19, about Hawai‘i as a prime global shopping and travel destination the KizunAloha Coalition has launched a biweekly video-news series in that country, “Hawa-ii News Now” [hawaiinewsnow.com/hinow/japan/, marketed in Japanese as “HI (pronounced “Hawai‘i”) Now JAPAN”]. Together with its partners, including Hawaii Tourism Japan; “Buy Hawai‘i” of the state Dept. of Business, Economic Development & Tourism and the related Give Aloha Campaign; the Central Pacific Bank Foundation; the Japan Hawaii Travel Association; and Hawaii News Now TV news channel, KizunAloha has streamed this informational-entertainment series from Sept. 10 onward.

Host Yuta Matsumoto of “HI Now JAPAN.” (Photo from screenshot of Hawa-ii News Now video channel)

In its initial episodes, the series offered the latest governmental rules about the state’s coronavirus lockdown, and showed examples of all that we in Hawai‘i are doing to keep people safe from the virus. In between shots of the islands’ beautiful ocean and mountain landscapes, these video segments promoted businesses such as the Kahala Resort, Kualoa Ranch, Chai’s restaurant, Captain Andy’s Na Pali Rafting Expeditions on Kaua‘i, Massimo Sport Hawaii, Green World Coffee farm, Killer Tacos, Ted’s Bakery, Kahuku Farms, Roy Sakuma Studios, Malie Kai Chocolates Honolulu, Paradise Pawz, SkyDreams, Diamond Bakery,

La Gelateria and of course, CPB. Hawai‘i-born or –based celebrities famous in Japan, such as ‘ukulele maestro Jake Shimabukuro, Hawaii Regional Cuisine cofounding chef Roy Yamaguchi and retired sumo star Konishiki, were featured in short clips, alongside performances of local music well-known in Japan such as those by Shimabukuro, Kuana Torres Kahele and Manoa DNA.

A recent survey by Hawaii Tourism Japan found that 73.4% of Japanese consumers “would choose Hawaii as their next place to visit once tourism re-opens.” HTJ’s Managing Director Eric Takahata thinks this confirms that we are the “destination of choice for Japanese … Local businesses are working hard to remain top of mind with their Japanese customers and ensure that health and safety measures are in place to keep both residents and visitors safe when travel resumes.” Japanese consumers, making up about 16% of Hawai‘i tourists, constitute the largest foreign market for the visitor industry, according to Lynn Miyahira, press spokesperson for KizunAloha.

The first step on the road back to trans-Pacific tourism is expected to be Gov. David Ige’s pre-test travel program for COVID-19 which starts on Oct. 15. This program lets out-of-state visitors avoid Hawai‘i’s mandatory 14-day quarantine if within 72 hours of their travel departure, they have a negative result to an FDA-authorized nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) conducted by a CLIA certified lab.

In April, to encourage Japanese to return to the islands despite our 14-day quarantine, Gov. Ige, with the help of KizunAloha, sent an official video to Japan explaining the coronavirus travel restriction. The current “HI Now JAPAN” series is a continuation of that official promotional campaign.

Owners of local businesses who want to be considered for inclusion in this global marketing campaign can, as a first step, visit the “Buy Hawai‘i, Give Aloha” website at buy.hawaii.gov, a FREE portal site administered by DBEDT to support Hawai‘i firms during COVID-19. The site connects businesses based in Hawaiʻi, which offer mostly Hawaii-made products, to resource partners including INNOVATE Hawaii, Shop Small Hawaii and the State of Hawaii Department of Agriculture.

Local businesses, with at least 75% of their total product made in Hawai‘i, can fill out an online application (invest.hawaii.gov/buy-hawaii/how-to-get-listed/) to have their website and business name listed in the portal’s directory at no cost, so that online shoppers from Japan, the mainland U.S. and around the globe can purchase products from these listed businesses. Businesses listed here, including Hawaiʻi restaurants and farm delivery services, will receive free marketing and promotion for their online shops.

With this DBEDT “Buy Hawai‘i, Give Aloha” promotional portal as one of its main sponsors, KizunAloha is a coalition of businesses, governmental agencies and nonprofits in Hawaiʻi and Japan that came together during the advent of COVID-19, to support Hawaiʻi’s economic recovery related to the Japanese tourism market. For more information on the HI Now JAPAN video series or KizunAloha, contact Miyahira at (808) 393-9439 or lmiyahira@iq360inc.com.

Bishop Daiya Amano of Izumo Taishakyo Mission of Hawaii blesses UJSH and virtual guests of the “Tsukimi no Kai.”


The United Japanese Society held its 21st annual “Tsukimi no Kai,” or moon-viewing celebration, on Thursday, Oct. 1, at 7 p.m. via Facebook Live and YouTube. This year’s event was chaired by UJSH Past-President Sheree Tamura. Though it was UJSH’s first virtual “Tsukimi no Kai,” the traditional tamagushi blessing, haiku presentation and bon dance were still part of the festivities.

UJSH partnered with the Pagoda Floating Restaurant & Catering, so that virtual guests could preorder take-out bento made exclusively for the event. Selections included either a saba or salmon bento, or tsukimi udon, with all choices including dango (mochi-ball dessert).

The emcees for the evening were UJSH members Sheera Tamura and Kenneth Saiki. Tamura welcomed viewers and introduced Bishop Daiya Amano of Izumo Taishakyo Mission of Hawaii. The evening opened with a traditional offering of the tamagushi, a blessing of the UJSH and virtual viewers conducted by Bishop Amano, with Izumo’s Rev. Jun Miyasaka narrating. The ceremony was prerecorded at Izumo Taisha with UJSH President Frances Nakachi Kuba in attendance.

“Tama” refers to “tamashii” or “soul”; and “gushi”or “kushi” means “to connect.” The tamagushi is an ancient Shintö ritual, which includes ceremonial food offerings and blessings to attendees. In Japan, the altar and offerings are usually placed on the veranda or near a window so that the moon can shine on them as these offerings help make wishes come true, while expressing our gratitude to Kami-sama (God or gods).

The program for the evening rotated musical entertainment, food and culture demonstrations and educational presentations. Entertainers from Hawai‘i included Hawaii Koto Academy’s Darin and Mika Miyashiro and Sophie Narashiba; vocalists Aolani Silva and Elvis Imamura accompanied by guitarist William Shimamura; and bon dance group Iwakuni Odori Aiko Kai. Streaming from Ösaka, Anju Madoka sang and played the Japanese shamisen. From Brazil, Mario Kamia and family performed a magic show, and karaoke-duo Alexadre Kawase and Terio Uehara sang “Ue Wo Muite Arukö.”

Sheera Tamura gave two culinary demonstrations: how to make dango and haupia shooters with Kuba Awamori.  

New for this year’s virtual event were a series of mini-presentations by Michitoshi Yoshida, director of the Subaru Telescope on Mauna Kea. He shared interesting astronomical findings made by the telescope. For example, astronomers used the Subaru Telescope to find 20 moons around the planet Saturn. Pretty cool!

Throughout the program, haiku poet, Kaoru Nakamura, read poems written by UJSH members and gave tips on how to write using your senses and expressing emotions through metaphors inspired by nature.

Frances Nakachi Kuba closed the festivities with a lesson on Okinawan kachaashii, or freestyle dance. Viewers were encouraged to get off their okole and wave their hands in the air like they just don’t care!

Dango as a dessert for the take-out cuisine provided by the Pagoda Floating Restaurant & Catering.

In the hours following the event, many of the virtual attendees went outside of their homes to take photos of the full moon. Images of the bright dango-shaped moon popped up on social media from Hawai’i and afar. While socially distant, we were all connected by the same moon.


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