The Honolulu Hiroshima Kenjin Kai held its annual membership meeting and shinnen enkai on March 12 at Natsunoya Tea House. Also in attendance was a delegation from Hiroshima, including Hiroshima’s Goodwill Ambassadors.
Kenjinkai president Wayne Miyao convened a general membership meeting prior to the lunch and entertainment portion of the program, calling on the various committee chairs to report on their area of responsibility.
Ken Saiki reported on the kenjinkai’s participation in the clean-up of the Ehime Maru Memorial at Kaka‘ako Waterfront Park and the Hiroshima Torii in Mö‘ili‘ili. Saiki said the activity fosters international goodwill and team-building.
Picnic co-chairs Peter Kobayashi and Wayne Toma said the summertime activity attracts younger kenjinkai families and encourages them to get active and participate in the club. This year’s picnic will be held Sunday, Aug. 13, at Ala Moana Park, Area 9.
Kevin Nakata reported on the kenjinkai’s Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i ‘Ohana Festival okonomiyaki sales. He said volunteers sold 622 okonomiyaki, which raised $2,500 for the kenjinkai’s scholarship fund.
Student Exchange/Scholarship co-chair Donna Masuda-Kam encouraged members with college-age family members to apply for the $1,000 scholarship. The application deadline is Aug. 31.
Masuda-Kam also introduced the kenjinkai’s 2016 International Youth Exchange Program participants, Jordan Namba from Hawai‘i Baptist Academy and Amber Liu from Kapolei High School, who shared their experiences and impressions of their trip to Hiroshima. Namba said the experience was one she would “remember for the rest of my life.” She talked about the classes and workshops she attended, about visiting the Mazda auto manufacturing factory, and the Hiroshima Peace Park and Memorial. She and her fellow participants made origami crane streamers, which they hung at the Peace Park. “I was able to learn and gain a much deeper understanding and I now understand why peace is important,” she said.
Liu said that because of the past history of war between America and Japan, she felt “conflicted” at first about being in Hiroshima. However, through group discussions on the importance of abolishing nuclear weapons, she realized that America should also embrace Hiroshima’s commitment to peace and a nuclear-free world.
Several kenjinkai members were honored for milestones being achieved this year, including four members who are celebrating their 80th birthday this year — Stanley Gono, Ken Kimura, Kathleen Kiyuna and Roy Shimamoto. Also recognized during the program were Isamu Shibata, who is celebrating his 98th birthday this year; Tatsukichi Kobayashi, who is 92 years old this year, and his family business, Kobayashi Travel, which was founded 125 years ago this year, in 1892.
Kenjinkai president Wayne Miyao said the Honolulu Hiroshima Kenjin Kai is creating new directions and strategies and investigating new means of expanding Hawai‘i’s sister relationship with Hiroshima. Among the new possibilities are a sister-parks agreement between Pearl Harbor’s Valor in the Pacific National Monument and the Hiroshima Peace Park.
Miyao reminded the members that Hiroshima Gov. Hidehiko Yuzaki would be leading a delegation to Hawai‘i in May. A Hawai‘i delegation will make a reciprocal visit to Hiroshima in early October.
Miyao, who was re-elected president for 2017-18, will be supported by immediate past president Robert Nagao; vice presidents Peter Kobayashi, Gregg Mueller and Darek Sato; secretaries Chiemi Okamura, Donna Masuda-Kam and Nancy Shimamoto; treasurers Kevin Nakata, Thomas Sakamoto and Sandra Ishihara-Shibata; auditors Dan Kinoshita, Richard Park III and Walter Saito; and historian Brandon Saigusa.
Miyao recognized Thomas Sakamoto as the kenjinkai’s “Member of the Year.”
Also in attendance at the shinnen enkai were five guests from Hiroshima — Kazuyuki Masukawa, executive director of the Hiroshima Convention and Visitors Bureau; Masuko Takamori from the Hiroshima Prefectural Government’s Tourism Promotion Department; and this year’s Hiroshima Goodwill Ambassadors Kano Ishibashi, Rina Meichi and Momoko Fukuyama, who sang the prefecture’s signature song, “Hiroshima Kibun.”
Kampai were offered by Consul General of Japan Yasushi Misawa and state Sen. Brian Taniguchi.
The gathering closed with a tejime led by member Wayne Toma.