On Friday, Aug. 12, Kathleen Burkinshaw’s award-winning novel, “The Last Cherry Blossom,” a United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs Education Resource for Teachers and Students, was released in Japan. The historical fiction novel, printed by Holp Shuppan Publishers Co. and translated by Yoshida Chiyoko, was released a few days after the 77th commemoration of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. 

The book is based on the events that Burkinshaw’s mother, Toshiko Ishikawa, witnessed in Hiroshima during the last year of World War II, taking the reader through the horror of the atomic bombing through 12-year-old Ishikawa’s eyes. 

Burkinshaw is a Japanese American wife and mother, who resides in Charlotte, North Carolina. In 2019, she spoke about her mother’s experience in Hiroshima at the United Nations in New York and also spoke with her daughter at a Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum online event.

The novel’s English version was printed in the United States by Sky Pony Press in 2016 and the U.S. audiobook was released in 2021 with a third-generation Hibakusha as the narrator. The English version of “The Last Cherry Blossom” has been read in classrooms across the world and is a grade six book for the Hiroshima International School’s Action Week. The U.S. version was a finalist for the 2018 Sakura Medal in Japan. 

For more information about the author, please visit


On Sept. 17, two Hawai‘i residents were elected to the Junior Chamber International during its annual meeting. Nate Keolaokalani Martin was elected national president and Gina Maeda was elected as national vice president. 

JCI USA is a membership organization of 18- to 40-year-olds dedicated to leadership development that creates positive impact in their local, national and international communities. The organization consists of approximately 8,000 active citizens in over 300 chapters nationwide and almost 120 countries worldwide. 

“One of my goals for 2023 is to ensure each person in JCI USA has that member experience and is able to push their potential,” said Martin. “I want to continue the Jaycee movement that started over 100 years ago and brand ourselves in a way that is attractive for future potential members.” 

“Being a part of JCI USA has made me realize how we are all a small but important part of a much bigger picture,” said Maeda. “I have been a Jaycee for over a decade and still being able to learn something new each year is refreshing and rewarding.”


Naomi Ostwald Kawamura elected as Densho’s new executive director. (Photo courtesy of Densho)
Naomi Ostwald Kawamura elected as Densho’s new executive director. (Photo courtesy of Densho)

After a long search, longtime educator, scholar and nonprofit leader Naomi Ostwald Kawamura was selected to succeed Densho’s founding executive director, Tom Ikeda. Ostwald Kawamura will deliver her first formal address to the Densho community at the 2022 Virtual Densho Gala on Wednesday, Nov. 2. Ikeda will assume the role of senior advisor to the executive director for the remainder of the year to help transition Ostwald Kawamura as she familiarizes herself with Densho operations, board and staff and the community-at-large. 

Densho, a Japanese term to “pass on to the next generation,” is an organization that documents the testimonies of Japanese Americans who were unjustly incarcerated during World War II before their memories are extinguished, offering firsthand accounts, historical images and teacher resources, and explores principles of democracy, promoting equal justice for all. 

“We are thrilled that Naomi Ostwald Kawamura will be Densho’s next executive director,” said Densho board chair Ron Tanemura. “As an educator with specialized knowledge of Japanese American history … Naomi has the rare combination of skills and experiences we were looking for.” 

Ostwald Kawamura is a Shin-Nisei, born to Japanese immigrants in San Diego, California, and currently lives with her husband and daughter in Vancouver. She is a graduate of the University of Washington and holds a master’s degree in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is pursuing a Ph.D. in curriculum and pedagogy at the University of British Columbia. Her dissertation, which she will defend this fall, focuses on the intergenerational transfer of memory in the Japanese American and Japanese Canadian communities. 

Until July, Ostwald Kawamura served as the executive director of the Nikkei Place Foundation, a community-based Japanese Canadian organization in British Columbia. She previously worked as the director of education at the San Diego History Center and serves as the board president of the Museum Education Roundtable. Through both her work and educational pursuits, she has cultivated a deep intellectual and emotional connection to the legacy of Japanese American and Japanese Canadian World War II incarceration. 

“There was a lot of excitement by the board and staff as we learned more and more about Naomi,” said Ikeda. “Naomi brings executive leadership, high emotional intelligence, operational experience, integrity, and vision to all of her endeavors.” 

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Ostwald Kawamura. “I feel honored to have been selected to lead Densho, an organization that I have long admired and that has played such a critical role in preserving Japanese American historical memory.” 

The 2022 Densho Virtual Gala: Telling Our Story will be Ostwald Kawamura’s first major address as Densho’s executive director, held  on Wednesday, Nov. 2 at 5 p.m. (PST). To register for the virtual event, please visit 


Many of us grew up learning about the story of Sadako Sasaki, a young girl living in Hiroshima when the atomic bomb dropped on Aug. 6, 1945. Years later, Sasaki developed leukemia due to her exposure to radiation. Inspired by the Japanese legend that one’s wish will be granted upon folding a thousand paper cranes, Sasaki set out to fold a thousand cranes. Today, the origami crane has become an international symbol of peace, and people throughout the world continue to fold cranes with the hope of peace.  A statute of Sasaki and her paper cranes are displayed at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in her memory and the memory of all children who died from the effects of the atomic bomb. 

Sasaki’s family has been diligently working on two projects to promote the legacy of Sadako: The development and construction of an Eternal Flame monument; which, pending approvals, is proposed to be situated at the World War II Valor in the Pacific Memorial at Pearl Harbor. Additionally, a documentary film on the life of Sasaki is being created in conjunction with the monument and to preserve her memory forever. 

To ensure the preservation of Sasaki’s legacy in Hawai‘i, a fundraising committee organized to raise funds in Hawai‘i for these two projects, led by Wayne Miyao, chairman of the Hiroshima-Hawaii Sister State Committee and president of the Honolulu Hiroshima Kenjin Kai; Arthur Taniguchi, chairman and president of numerous organizations in Hilo and Hawai‘i island; and Bishop Eric Matsumoto of the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii as an advisor.

The initial goal for the fundraising was $20,000; however, due to the overwhelming response by individuals and organizations on O‘ahu and Hawai‘i island, total donations raised amounted to $35,880, which significantly surpassed the targeted goal.

The majority of the funds raised were from Hawai‘i island. According to Taniguchi, “Many of us have strong ties to Hiroshima, which have been strengthened over the years. We are honored that several businesses and individuals led our fundraising efforts, including HPM Foundation, Isemoto Contracting, KTA Super Stores, Honpa Hongwanji Hilo Betsuin, Sidney and Aileen Fuke and Kinuyo Isemoto. We are proud that our friends and businesses on the Big Island have supported our fundraising program and have given generously to our cause.”

Yuji Sasaki, nephew of late Sadako Sasaki, with Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who supports two projects to promote Sadako’s legacy.
Yuji Sasaki, nephew of late Sadako Sasaki, with Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who supports two projects to promote Sadako’s legacy.

Co-chairman Wayne Miyao commented, “We would like to thank our Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii churches and members located throughout the state of Hawai‘i for participating in our fundraising efforts. In the past, they have been so generous to support the Sadako Sasaki Paper Crane Exhibit at Pearl Harbor in March 2013 and the landslides in Hiroshima, which caused loss of lives and damaged properties in April 2014. And now, they have graciously joined us to raise funds for these two projects.”

Bishop Matsumoto congratulated all individuals, organizations and businesses by saying, “All of us are proud of our Hiroshima heritage and are honored to support these two projects which will keep the memory of Sadako Sasaki alive in the state of Hawai‘i!”

Masahiro Sasaki, brother of the late Sasaki, spoke from Japan through Zoom, said, “My son Yuji and I are grateful for the overwhelming support given to us from the people of Hawai‘i. We consider Hawai‘i to be our second home as we have made so many friends and supporters through the years. Mahalo to Hawai‘i from the Sasaki family for cherishing the memory of our dearly departed Sadako.”

-By Hiroshima Fundraising Committee


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