The United Japanese Society of Hawaii’s 63rd annual installation celebration was held at noon on Saturday, June 26, over Zoom. Attendees picked up a “Super Bento” from the Pagoda Restaurant earlier in the day to enjoy while watching the virtual event. The double-decker bento included karaage chicken, grilled salmon, kimpira gobo, rice, tempura, a dekkai (huge) konbu maki and zenzai (red-bean soup with mochi) for dessert.

When the clock struck noon, UJSH President-elect Kanzo Nara appeared on screen to greet viewers to the celebration.

Co-emcee Sheera Tamura introduced the opening musical dance performance “Hayakuduchi” presented by outgoing president Frances Nakachi Kuba. With her gold fan, the dancer expresses the joy of celebrating new beginnings, which held significant meaning as the community is gradually putting the worst of the COVID pandemic behind it. Kuba is the master instructor and artistic director for Tamagusuku Ryu Senju Kai Hawaii.

Following the dance presentation were congratulatory messages from VIP guests. Gov. David Ige and First Lady Dawn Amano-Ige commended the UJSH officers for their “vision, creativity and resourcefulness” in keeping the community connected through a challenging 2020. Mayor Rick Blangiardi recognized UJSH for its community contributions including the support of the Honolulu Marathon and cleaning the Ehime Maru memorial. And the final VIP guest message came from Council General of Japan Yutaka Aoki who thanked Kuba for her hard work and congratulated incoming president Wendy Abe and the award recipients who would be recognized later in the program.

Past-President of the United Japanese Society of Hawaii Sheree Tamura (Hanayagi Mitsusumi) presenting a traditional Japanese dance “Tsurukame – Crane and Turtle.”

To begin the award presentations, Kanzo Nara stated that “The core of the United Japanese Society is the kenjin kai [and their members].” The 2021 Outstanding Kenjin Kai Members included: Sally and Hisashi Matsumoto, Central Oahu Kumamoto Kenjin Kai; Lynn Miyahira, Hawaii United Okinawa Association; Raymond Sakai, Honolulu Yamaguchi Kenjin Kai; Yoko Saito, Hawaii Yamagata Kenjin Kai; Yumi Suzuki, Hawaii Kagoshima Kenjin Kai; Aurleen Kumasaka, Honolulu Fukushima Kenjin Kai; the late Gregg Mueller, Honolulu Hiroshima Kenjin Kai.

The 2021 UJSH award for Contributions to the Japanese Community and Hawai‘i went to three recipients: Kenneth Saiki, Karleen Chinen and Noriyoshi Kanaizumi. Karen Kuba-Hori and Norman Nakasone received 2021 Outstanding Member of the Year Awards and Sheera Tamura was recognized as the 2021 Outstanding Young Leader of the Year.

The 2021-2022 officers who were sworn in by past-president Christine Kubota include: Wendy A. Abe, president; Kanzo Nara, president-elect; Frances Nakachi Kuba, immediate past president; Karen Kuba-Hori, Heather Omori, Keith Sakuda, Ken Ito and Cheryl Sora as vice presidents; Annette Matsumoto, Janice Matsuura and Melanie Takahashi as secretaries; Norman Nakasone, Courtney Takara, David Jones and Faye Shigemura as treasurers; and David Jones, James Sato and Robert Nagao as auditors.

The program continued with entertainment by Sheree Tamura (Hanayagi Mitsusumi) with a traditional dance performance “Tsurukame – Crane and Turtle,” and children from the Manoa Japanese Language School sang “Mirai E – To the Future” made popular by J-pop duo Kiroro. Emcee Sheera Tamura led everyone in a lively tejime.    

UJSH’s mission is “To advance the welfare of the Japanese and their descendants in Hawaii and to maintain harmonious relationships with each other and with other ethic groups through charitable, educational, religious, social and cultural activities; and to promote goodwill and understanding between the people of Japan and the United States.” For more information email ujsoh1@gmail.com, or call (808) 941-5889.


On Thursday, July 15, at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i, the launch of a newly expanded high school curriculum, “Can Hawai‘i’s Aloha Spirit Survive a War?” was announced by the JCCH and the Go For Broke National Education Center.

The curriculum developed in collaboration with the Hawai‘i Department of Education will be rolled out in the current 2021-2022 instructional year. The instructional design model blueprint examines the socio-political effects of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the history of Nisei soldiers of World War II.

Also partnering with JCCH and GFBNEC are the Nisei Veterans Legacy and the Nisei Veterans Memorial Center.

The motivation behind this new curriculum development is to bring innovative, engaging curriculum that also meets specific state educational standards to the classroom. This new program meets two of HIDOE standards: Inquiry Standards (SS.9-12.4.2) and Content Standards (SS.MHH.3.19.2). Guest speakers, which included individuals who helped develop the curriculum, shared their perspectives on its importance.

According to Mitchell Maki, president and CEO of GFBNEC, this curriculum is relevant to all Hawai‘i students. Aligned with the Hawai‘i Law of the “The Aloha Spirit” from Chapter 5 of Hawai‘i revised Statutes (hawaii.edu/uhwo/clear/home/lawaloha.html), it “explores the power of the aloha spirit during World War II as defined by the words kindness, unity, humility and perseverance. It explores how the aloha spirit was exemplified by Nisei veterans.”

From left: Deidre Tegarden, executive director, Nisei Veterans Memorial Center (Maui); Nate Gyotoku, president and executive director, Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i (Honolulu); Betsy Young; Shinye Gima, president, MIS Veterans Club; Gov. David Ige; First Lady Dawn Amano-Ige; Mitchell Maki, president and CEO, Go For Broke National Education Center; Rosanna Fukuda, social studies specialist, Hawai‘i Department of Education; and Jane Kurahara.

Key people involved with the development of the curriculum included Rosanna Fukuda, HIDOE’s educational specialist for social studies; JCCH volunteers and former educators Betsy Young and Jane Kurahara; and World War II veteran Shinye Gima of the Military Intelligence Service.

Gov. David Ige thanked those who developed the new program, and First Lady Dawn Amano-Ige said, “I wish [my children] had this opportunity … to know what shoulders they have to stand on.” Both are direct descendants of Nisei veterans.

For lesson plans, resources or other information about “Can Hawai‘i’s Aloha Spirit Survive a War?” or other curriculum guides, visit jcch.com/lesson-plans, email info@jcch.com or call the JCCH at (808) 945-7633.


Rev. Daido Baba, executive assistant to the bishop at Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii, Honolulu. (Photo courtesy of Rev. Daido Baba)

When Honpa Hongwanji Hilo Betsuin transitioned their Sunday service to an online platform due to the rise in COVID-19 cases nearly a year ago, Rev. Daido Baba — one of the ministers for the temple — was happy to see new and former members join the congregation.

“We had younger people like the convenience of the virtual platform and also stay and watch the service after they helped their parents or grandparents set up the Zoom link,” said Rev. Baba who is now the executive assistant to the bishop at Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii, Honolulu. He received feedback from members that discussions among family members would continue at home after the service ended.

“People who were in the hospital and care homes, who didn’t have access to come to our church before the pandemic, were able to watch our service online,” continued Rev. Baba. “It was a nice way for them to attend.”

As Honpa Hongwanji Hilo Betsuin is one of many virtual congregation service success stories that has evolved since the beginning of the pandemic, more opportunities of learning Buddhist teachings through online platforms will continue throughout the year.

Here is a list of current and upcoming virtual Buddhist seminars and education series that’s open to the public:

  • Hawaii District Ministers Association is providing a Buddhist education Zoom series one Saturday morning per month from now through November. Each seminar will feature a minister from one of five different Hawai’i Island Jodo Shinshu Buddhist temples along with two additional Nembutsu seminars in October and December. (To learn more, go to hongwanjihawaii.com News & Announcements section.)
  • Kaua‘i Hongwanji Council will present a Zoom seminar entitled “The Tragedy of Räjagrha — What did Shinran Shönin want to tell us?” with guest speaker Rev. Dr. Mutsumi Wondra from Orange County Buddhist Church on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 5-7 p.m. Registration deadline is Oct. 13th. (Fill out the Google form to register – forms.gle/iU9JMi3Rm2B9e1K99. For further information, contact Kapaa Hongwanji at (808) 822-4667, West Kauai Hongwanji at 808-335-3195, or Lihue Hongwanji at (808) 245-6262.)
  • Maui Hongwanji Council will sponsor a virtual and in-person Nembutsu seminar featuring Rev. Ken Fujimoto, minister emeritus of the Buddhist Churches of America from Saturday, Nov. 13th, 9 a.m. – 2:15 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 14, 9 a.m. – noon at Wailuku Hongwanji Mission, 1828 Vineyard St. For more information, contact Wailuku Hongwanji Mission at (808) 244-0406.   
  • Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii’s Buddhist Study Center will host a Livestream YouTube “Summer Dharmathon” series entitled “Building Healthy Sanghas: Nurturing Empathy and Respect” on Monday, Aug. 23 through Friday, Aug. 27, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Head over to BSC Hawaii’s YouTube channel to watch the series.

Although virtual services are not comparable to in-person gatherings, Rev. Baba is hopeful to continue sharing his Buddhist faith despite the restrictions that the pandemic has caused among many religious affiliations.

“I appreciate that this is another way for us to communicate to new and current members,” said Rev. Baba. “We’ve also hired new team members to help with our Zoom service … Everything good and bad that we’ve experienced, we were able to adapt.”

Rev. Baba will share his teachings in the Summer Dharmathon series on Thursday, Aug. 26th. Like many ministers, he is grateful to the community for their continued support with the congregation, and each other, during this time of great need.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here