On Saturday, Jan. 22, the Honolulu Hiroshima Kenjin Kai held a private ceremony to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Hiroshima Torii Gate located in the triangle park near the intersection of South King Street and University Avenue in Mō‘ili‘ili. The torii is a replica of one that fronts Miyajima Island in Hiroshima, Japan. Wayne Miyao, chairman of the Hiroshima-Hawai‘i Sister State Committee and president of HHKK, emceed the morning event. 

Speeches highlighting the strong ties between Hawai‘i and Hiroshima were given by Yutaka Aoki, Consul General of Japan; Brian Taniguchi, Hawai‘i state senator and vice-chairman of the Hiroshima-Hawai‘i Sister State Committee; and Rika Hirata, chairperson of the Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce. 

Besides 2022 being the 20th anniversary of the Hiroshima Torii Gate in Hawai‘i, it is also the 40th anniversary of the sister-chamber relationship between the Honolulu Chamber of Commerce and the Hiroshima Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Additionally, it is the 25th anniversary of the sister-state relationship between the State of Hawai‘i and Hiroshima Prefecture. Miyao announced the proposal of a donation of two plants from Hiroshima to commemorate the two additional anniversaries which will be celebrated later this year. 

From left: Brian Taniguchi, Hawai‘i State Senator and vice-chairman of the Hiroshima-Hawai‘i Sister State Committee; Yutaka Aoki, Consul General of Japan; Rika Hirata, chairperson of the Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce; and Wayne Miyao, chairman of the Hiroshima-Hawai‘i Sister State Committee and president of Honolulu Hiroshima Kenjin Kai. (Photo by Craig Okamura)

The Yamaki Family of Hiroshima will donate the trees if the agreement is approved and the two plants pass all agricultural quarantine requirements. If the plants can clear all hurdles, Miyao says an official announcement will be made later. 

In 1976, the Yamakis donated a 350-year-old bonsai tree to the U.S. recognize the 200th anniversary of the United States. The tree is symbolic because it survived the bombing of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. Today, the white pine bonsai tree is 400 years old and resides at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C.

In 2000, to celebrate its 100th anniversary the HJCC initiated the “Mō‘ili‘ili Revitalization Project” to acknowledge Mō‘ili‘ili’s history that includes the settlement of Japanese immigrants and businesses in this central area of Honolulu. Mō‘ili‘ili is still  home to several Japanese-related community organizations including the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i, the United Japanese Society of Hawaii and the Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce.

According to Miyao — the 100th-anniversary chair — “From the onset, it was our plan to ask for a donation of a replica of the world-famous torii gate which fronts Miyajima Island. It is our belief that the torii gate represents not only Hiroshima, but also Japan.”

In May 2000, at HJCC’s 100th-anniversary banquet, a joint commitment was made by the Hiroshima Prefectural Government, Hiroshima City, and the Hiroshima Chamber of Commerce and Industry to raise funds to build a replica of the torii in Japan in Mō‘ili‘ili. Approximately $135,000 was raised by the three Hiroshima entities. 

The design and construction of the torii started in June 2001 in Hiroshima. When it was completed the torii was shipped to Honolulu and arrived on October 2001. More than 70 Hiroshima officials attended the dedication ceremony on Jan. 22, 2002.

“The Hiroshima torii gate will be a constant symbol of the friendships between Hiroshima and Hawai‘i. Hopefully, it will promote further cultural, educational and business exchanges between our two states and serve as a lasting reminder of peace,” said Miyao. Perhaps the two torii serving as guardian gates — one in Honolulu; the other in Hiroshima — is connected by a 4,300-mile bridge of peace and aloha.


Hui O Laulima recently awarded $14,000 to eight organizations and individuals for their work and dedication in promoting and expanding Okinawan culture. The non-profit women’s organization offers grants to individuals and organizations who perpetuate Okinawan culture within Hawai‘i. The grants were awarded to:

  • Janice Shiira and Doreen Yamashiro to fund printing of UCHINAAGUCHI KATAYABIRA! and assorted art materials and children’s prizes at the 2022 Okinawan Festival (Shimakutuba booth).
  • Jimpu Kai USA Kin Ryosho Ryukyu Geino Kenkyusho Hawaii Shibu for airfare support to perform in Maui; and Okinawa for research, presentations and workshops at the Geidai University.
  • Kohala Okinawa Kenjin Kai for airfare support for musicians to perform at the Hawi Obon Festival.
  • Lee Tonouchi for editing and publishing support for Hawai‘i Okinawan literary anthology featuring established writers of poetry and prose.
  • Maui Okinawa Kenjin Kai (Jimpu Kai Maui) for airfare support for Cheryl Nakasone-Sensei’s monthly classes on Maui.
  • Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko Hawaii for airfare for five members to participate in the RMD Headquarters’ 40th anniversary in Okinawa.
  • Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko Kohala/Waimea for airfare support for the instructor and students to O‘ahu for a workshop in learning new songs.
Members of the Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko Hawaii in July 2021 during the Eisa Pageant. (Photo courtesy of Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko Hawaii Facebook page)

Hui O Laulima was founded in 1968 at the suggestion of the late Tommy Toma, who served as president of HUOA from 1968 to 1969. He felt the need for a women’s organization that could assist in entertaining visiting officials from Okinawa. The founding officers were Tsuruko Ohye, president; June Arakawa, first vice president; Jane Sakima, second vice president; Irene Kanetake, recording secretary; Jackie Goya, corresponding secretary; Rose Teruya, treasurer; and Caroline Kamisato, assistant treasurer. Masae Chinen, Chiyoko Ige, Chiyeko Takushi, Lorraine Toma and Katherine Yonamine served on the board of directors.


United Japanese Society Hawaii members and supporters welcomed the “Year of the Tiger” at the organization’s virtual shinnen enkai held live on YouTube on Jan. 22. 

Kenny Endo and the Taiko Center of the Pacific welcomed viewers with a festive taiko performance titled “Meguri.” Following the performance, Master of Ceremonies Cyrus Tamashiro stated that the purpose of the virtual event was to honor recipients of Japanese imperial decorations, recognized young achievers and to enjoy entertainment by members and friends. 

Viewers could pre-order osechi inspired bento by Rokkaku Hamamatsu to eat while watching the virtual presentation. They were available for pick-up at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i before the program started. UJSH President Wendy Abe said in her welcome message that she hopes the Year of the Tiger will bring strength, vitality and growth to help us “look past the uncertainties of [the] COVID-19 [pandemic].”

Gov. David Ige and First Lady Dawn Amano Ige congratulated the honorees for the event and thanked them for their contributions to strengthening the ties between the U.S. and Japan and their contributions to Hawai‘i’s Japanese community. 

Consul General of Japan Yutaka Aoki commended UJSH on their continued efforts to bring the community together “to further cultivate friendships and celebrate milestones through these online events.”

Tamashiro introduced the recipients of Japanese “imperial decorations given to foreign nationals who have made notable contributions to enhance bilateral relations between their country and Japan.” These awards are given by the government of Japan. In 2021, Mr. Thomas Nobuo Hasebe received the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette. According to the Consul General of Japan in Honolulu website, Hasebe was recognized “for his contributions promoting the cooperation program between the Japan Air Self Defense Force and the United States Air Force as a military officer and as a civilian officer.”

Donald Mitsuo Takaki received the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays. Takaki is the president of Pacific Region Baseball, Inc. and a former chair of JCCH. His achievement includes “contributions to promoting Japanese culture in the United States as well as strengthening friendly relations between Japan and the United States.”

The UJSH Young Achiever Awards are given to recognize the outstanding achievements of young community leaders. This year the honorees included: Aolani Yukie Silva, Central Oahu Kumamoto Kenjin Kai; Lauren Kami Kim, Hanayagi Mitsusumi Dance Studio; Courtney Takara, Hawaii United Okinawa Association; and Eric Kobayashi, Tamagusuku Ryu Senju Kai Hawaii Frances Nakachi Ryubu Dojo.

Taiko Center of the Pacific opened the festivities of the United Japanese Society of Hawaii’s 2022 Virtual Shinnen Enkai. (Screenshot from the UJSH YouTube Channel)

Viewers enjoyed rich cultural entertainment sprinkled throughout the program provided by friends and members including: Tamagusuku Ryu Senju Kai Hawaii Frances Nakachi Ryubu Dojo, Ryukyu Koten Ongaku Afuso-Ryu Gensei Kai, Hawaii Shibu and Ryukyu Sokyoku Koyo Kai, Hawaii Gagaku Society, Rev. Takamasa Yamamura, a Buddhist minister trained in European classical, Shufu Society of Hawaii, Madoka no Kai, Hanayagi Mitsusumi Dance Studio, Hanagasa Girls in Hawaii, Megumi Tanaka and Iwakuni Odori Aiko Kai.

“In Hawai‘i, we honor individuals for their achievements with Banzai cheers,” said Tamashiro. UJSH Past-President Ken Saiki lead the Banzai to convey congratulations to Japanese-Government-Imperial-decoration and the Young-Achiever-award recipients. 

UJSH President-Elect Kanzo Nara lead the tejime (Japanese custom of a ceremonial rhythmic hand clapping) to bring the event to a peaceful and lively close. 

The virtual event “2022 UJSH Shinnen Enkai” can be viewed on the UJSH’s YouTube channel. 


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