The East Hawaii Hiroshima Kenjinkai celebrated its 50th anniversary on May 8 and 9 with members and special guests from Hiroshima Prefecture in attendance, including Gov. Hidehiko Yuzaki, Assembly Chairman Shin Uda, and delegation leader and Assembly member Masao Hayashi. The delegation’s visit included participation in an anniversary dinner; a tree planting ceremony at Lili‘uokalani Gardens; and visits to the University of Hawai‘i College of Hawaiian Language, Hawaii Japanese Center, ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center and the Katsu Goto gravesite at Hamakua Jodo Mission in Honoka‘a.
“We want to thank all of those who contributed to a very successful celebration of our 50th anniversary,” said Kenjinkai president Thomas Goya. “I am sure that those who have preceded us appreciate our efforts to help perpetuate the legacy of our Kenjinkai.”
Two East Hawaii students, both from Waiäkea High School, represented the East Hawaii Hiroshima Kenjinkai as delegates to the 2017 Hiroshima International Youth Exchange Program in Hiroshima City. Selected were Carina Cook, daughter of Vaughn and Sylvi Cook, and Deylen Nekoba, son of Darrell and Lori Nekoba.
The international exchange program is sponsored by the Hiroshima Prefectural Government and includes a visit with Gov. Yuzaki; participation in Japanese cultural activities; a visit to a high school and Hiroshima University; interaction with students from Hiroshima and other delegates from Hawai‘i, the U.S. mainland and South America; and a homestay experience.
Students from overseas are encouraged to enrich their understanding and knowledge of Hiroshima through cultural experiences. Besides visiting with Gov. Yuzaki, who earned his MBA from Stanford University and speaks English fluently, the students were scheduled to attend the 72nd Peace Memorial Ceremony on Aug. 6, the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, in the Peace Park.
The exchange program, as well as educational scholarships for graduating high school seniors, is open to the direct descendants of Kenjinkai members.
Waiäkea High School seniors Kiaria Zoi Nakamura and Caitlin Tsuchiya were awarded scholarships of $1,000 each from the East Hawaii Hiroshima Kenjinkai in recognition of their excellence in academic, co-curricular and extracurricular achievements.
Kiaria Zoi Nakamura was a senior class valedictorian and a recipient of the Waiäkea High School Na Koa Po‘okela award for academics and service. She was active in student government, Key Club, East Hawaii 4-H Federation, Shooting Stars 4-H Club and the Junior Young Buddhist Association. Nakamura is the daughter of Kenjinkai members Bruce and Leslie Nakamura. She plans to attend the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo this fall, pursuing a double major in English and dance.
Caitlin Tsuchiya was a member of Waiäkea High School’s AVID program, Air Rifle Team, Tennis Team and Japanese Club. She has held leadership positions in Waiäkea High School class and student government and was historian and secretary for the Junior Young Buddhist Association of Honpa Hongwanji Hilo Betsuin. Additionally, she was a delegate to the Hiroshima International Youth Exchange in 2016. Tsuchiya is the daughter of Kenjinkai members Burt and Amy Tsuchiya and the granddaughter of Kenjinkai member Lillie Tsuchiya. She plans to attend the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo this fall, majoring in marine biology and minoring in Japanese studies.