UJSH: 49TH ANNUAL NENCHOSHA IAN ENGEI TAIKAI
The United Japanese Society of Hawaii’s 49th annual Nenchosha Ian Engei Taikai (Senior Citizen Festival) was held on Saturday, Sept. 23 at the Hawaii Okinawa Center in Waipi‘o. UJSH’s tradition of honoring senior citizens who attain the age of 80 began in 1962. Twenty-one honorees born in 1943 attended the event chaired by Karen Kuba-Hori.
The first half of the program was emceed by Brandon Saigusa. An energetic call to celebration kicked off the festivities with a dynamic eisa performance by Chinagu Eisa Hawaii. UJSH President Keith Sakuda welcomed everyone and said the honorees, although born during the dark times of World War II, brought hope to their Nisei parents and Issei grandparents. Sakuda also said, “The honorees are the ones who worked day-to-day to build a future together.” Those born in 1943 were among those who helped build and sustain kenjin kai and music, dance and martial arts dojos.
The honorees from various UJSH member clubs were:
- Marilyn Tada (Hawaii Fukuoka Kenjin Kai and Iwakuni Odori Aiko Kai)
- Kazuko Yamada (Hawaii Fukuoka Kenjin Kai)
- Betty Inada (Hawaii United Okinawa Association)
- Karen Lani Shishido (HUOA)
- Kaaren Takara (HUOA)
- Laverne Tanaka (HUOA)
- Marjorie Lui (HUOA)
- Nancy Minuth (HUOA)
- Thomas Murakami (HUOA)
- Richard Teruya (HUOA)
- Kenneth Akasaka (Honolulu Fukushima Kenjin Kai)
- Akemi Kurokawa (Honolulu Hiroshima Kenjin Kai)
- Misako Kurokawa (Honolulu Hiroshima Kenjin Kai)
- Earl Nobuyuki Terao (Honolulu Hiroshima Kenjin Kai)
- Linda Leiko Sato (Honolulu Niigata Kenjin-Kai)
- Joyce Kishimoto (Honolulu Yamaguchi Kenjinkai and Okinawa Nenchosha Club)
- Mizuki McGregor (Honolulu Yamaguchi Kenjinkai)
- Carolyn Kimura (Iwakuni Odori Aiko Kai)
- Rosaline Yanagawa (Lanakila Nenchosha Club)
- Carol S. Nezu (UJSH)
- Leroy Nagasako (Wahiawa-Waialua Hiroshima Kenjin Kai)
In between entertainment numbers, UJSH President Sakuda and the current Cherry Blossom Festival Queen Samantha Marumoto traveled around the banquet room to present each honoree with a Certificate of Appreciation and Achievement.
The entertainment program included karaoke number by Masataka Hirayama and Sheree Tamura, a “Prefectural Medley” of Japanese folk songs was performed by Anju Madoka, Jane Higa led the attendees in some “Radio Taiso” exercises, Okinawan dance performances by Tamagusuku Ryu Senju Kai Frances Nakachi Ryubu Dojo, Japanese dance performances by Hanayagi Mitsusumi Dance Studio and everyone participated in a few bon dance numbers led by the Iwakuni Odori Aiko Kai. Christine Kubota closed the festivities by leading the guests and honorees in a lively tejime (a celebratory rhythmic hand clapping) so everyone could return home with hearts full of peace and joy.
MAUI PRIDE FESTIVAL DAY RESCHEDULED
Due to the devastating Maui wildfires earlier this August, Aloha Maui Pride rescheduled its October Pride Festival Day. Initially scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 14, Pride Festival Day will be postponed to June 2024, which may be the permanent pride festival month moving forward, according to Aloha Maui Pride’s website. Due to the loss of lives, homes and businesses, “having a huge festival does not seem right for our community or Maui right now,” they wrote. (alohapridemaui.org).
However, while Pride Festival Day itself is postponed until next year, Aloha Maui Pride invites the community to celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community, Hawaiian culture, youth, local artists, vendors, organizations and each other at select community events.
- Monday, Oct. 11: National Coming Out Day; Maui Mayor Proclamation. Kalana O Maui County Building, 200 High St., 11 a.m.
- Friday, Oct. 13: Youth & Family Night features crafts, lawn games, skating, pizza and a bounce house. Kalama Park, 1900 S. Kihei Rd., 4 p.m.-8 p.m.
- Saturday Oct. 14: Pride Hike – Waihe’e Coastal Dunes Trail, Halewaiu Rd., 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.
- Saturday Oct. 14: Aloha Maui Pride Party – AMP it UP! at DaPlayground, 300 Ma‘alaea Rd., Suite IC, 8 p.m.-12 p.m.
Aloha Pride Maui has also set up a GoFundMe in the aftermath of the Maui wildfires. Every dollar donated will go towards assisting affected LGBTQIA+ individuals and bolstering local organizations that champion the LGBTQIA+ community.
NISEI SOLDIERS MEMORIAL SERVICE
On Sunday, Sept. 24, the Nisei Veterans Legacy honored Nisei veterans with its 18th Annual Nisei Soldiers Memorial Service, held at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl).
Following some early morning sprinkles, the sun emerged for the tribute and celebration of the legacy of the Nisei soldiers who served in the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Military Intelligence Service and the 1399 Engineer Construction Battalion. Descendants of the veterans continue the service, formerly called the Joint Memorial Service, to honor all Americans of Japanese Ancestry soldiers — both men and women — who served in World War II. The service is held on the Sunday in September closest to the date of the first American of Japanese Ancestry soldier, Sgt. Joe Takata of the 100th IB, killed in combat on Sept. 29, 1943, near Salerno, Italy.
The 111th Army Band of the Hawai‘i Army National Guard provided the music. Opening remarks were given by Jon Teraizumi, senior vice president of central pacific bank, whose Nisei grandfather served in the MIS. “Today we honor the Hawai‘i Nisei soldiers, whose valor and achievements on and off the battlefield resulted in more equity for many in Hawai’i,” he said before recognizing the Nisei veterans in attendance.
Lynn Heirakuji, chair of the Nisei Soldiers Memorial Service Committee and past National Veterans Legacy president, discussed the legacy of the Nisei, who continued fighting for social justice once they returned home and opened doors for future generations.
“A legacy will fade if later generations fail to honor it. So to the Nisei veterans who are here today, as you look around and see so many young people, know — know that your legacy will endure,” said Heirakuji.
The 100th Infantry Battalion 442nd Infantry Regiment presented the colors, followed by the singing of the national and state anthems.
Pastor Daniel Chinen gave the invocation before keynote speaker, Mindy Yamaga, president of the Board for the Japanese American Citizens League, Honolulu Chapter, spoke about her grandparents and mother who was born in an incarceration camp in Heart Mountain, Wyoming. Yamaga shared how her grandmother hated Spam because they ate so much of it at camp, and when the family returned to Los Angeles in 1945 with nothing, her grandmother worked on an assembly line sewing sleeves onto garments. Yamaha’s grandfather struggled to find work because he was injured in camp, at is was especially difficult as the primary work available to Japanese men returning from camp was physical labor.
“Instead of dwelling on this, it was instead told as silly anecdote,” said Yamaga. “The way it was openly shared was that even though grandma sewed all the clothes for her children, everything she made at home was sleeveless because she refused to sew on sleeves outside of her work. The imagery was funny, and we would all smile. Now, I can also see it for what it was – a reaction to hardship and trauma. But also, it was that determination to do what must be done to persevere and succeed.”
Yamaga connected her family’s experience to the Nisei soldiers who returned to Hawai‘i after their service and found ways to turn “spoils of war into a windfall.”
“Their efforts dramatically changed the trajectory of Japanese Americans in Hawai‘i,” said Yamaga. “They utilized the opportunities provided to them through education and paved the way for other Japanese Americans to hold esteemed positions in our community. I recognize for me, growing up a couple generations later, there are no shortage of Japanese American role models which allowed me to believe I could be anything and for that I am so thankful.”
Rev. Yukiya Hasebe gave the prayer of remembrance, followed by the wreath presentation from participating organizations. High school students Owen Lai, Cy Kaneshiro and Katelyn Nishita spoke about moving the legacy of the Nisei veterans forward. A rifle salute and taps followed, Celtic Pipes and Drums of Hawaii performed and pastor Chinen returned for the benediction. After the retiring of the colors, Teraizumi gave heartfelt closing remarks about how Nisei veterans.
“They carried within them the values of sacrifice, sense of duty, persistence and endurance. They carried these values into the battlefields and into the home front when they returned to Hawai‘i. It is a legacy of dignity and purpose. It is a legacy that we honor, preserve and perpetuate,” said Teraizumi. “For me personally, Nisei soldiers have given me a means for a better life.”
For more information on the Nisei Veterans Legacy, please visit www.nvlchawaii.org.