Monday, March 30, 2015

The Hilo-based Japanese Community Association of Hawaii is seeking nominations for Japanese cultural treasures, individuals who have made significant contributions to the preservation and perpetuating of the Japanese culture and arts in East Hawaii.

According to Kenji Kawai, president of the association, these individuals will be honored and recognized at the Japanese Culture Day in Hawaii Festival, Bunka No Hi, on Saturday, Nov. 19, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Honpa Hongwanji Hilo Betsuin Sangha Hall.

Since 2003, the association has honored 24 men and women in this manner for dedicating their talent and countless hours of practice, training and performance in the following areas: Japanese music, dance and language; martial arts, bonsai, ikebana flower arrangement and handicraft.

In 2005, the organization recognized and honored Americans of Japanese Ancestry (AJA) veterans who served with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the 100th Battalion and the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) during World War II.

Written nominations for this year's cultural treasures will be accepted until Oct. 15. Nomination forms are available at the association's office at 714 Kanoelehua Avenue, Suite 2, in Hilo above the Hawaii Printing Corp. building.

Or, simply submit the following information: 1) a brief biography of the person you are nominating; 2) a recent picture of the individual; 3) the individual's significant contribution and length of service to the preservation and perpetuation of the Japanese arts and culture in East Hawaii; 4) the name of the person or organization making the nomination; and 5) the necessary follow-up contact information.

Nominations should be mailed to the Japanese Community Association of Hawaii at P.O. Box 1124, Hilo, HI 96721. Selection will be made no later than Nov. 1, and awardees and nominators will be notified. For more information, call Tommy Goya, Cultural Treasures Committee chairman, at 989-5953.

The Bunka No Hi Festival is a biennial event sponsored by the JCAH. The theme for this year's event is "Mottainai," a Japanese word which means "it's a shame to waste." Nobuko Miyamoto of Great Leap Inc. has created the Mottainai Project, which includes a video and a bon dance to the song "Mottainai."

"Noboku wants everyone to know the meaning of mottainai and to put it into practice," said Jan Higashi, who is chairing the Bunka No Hi/Japanese Culture Day in Hawaii. "Nobuko is a disciple of Professor Wangari Maathai of Africa, who was the first African woman to win the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize.

"Professor Maathai felt the Japanese term is such a powerful word. She said she could not find an equivalent term in any other language," said Higashi.

The Nov. 19 festival will also feature traditional displays, demonstrations, shichigosan (kimono dressing for children ages 3, 5 and 7), mochi pounding, regional food from various kenjinkais and entertainment.

The Japanese Community Association of Hawaii is a nonprofit organization with a membership of more than 375 families.

"The association was formed in 1972 to promote and perpetuate the Japanese culture and arts and to foster international relationships with Japanese citizens and organizations," said Higashi. The annual family membership fee is $10.

In 2003, the association recognized and honored 12 cultural treasures in various categories. They were: Glenn S. Motonaga, judo; Nancy M. Kitajima, Tea Ceremony; Kazuki Okura, judo; Shinobu Sato and Lillian O'Connor, Japanese language program; Hiroshi Ikeda and Tsukasa Inoue, bonsai; Tsukie Hirai Parker, Japanese dance; Takashi Nonaka, aikido; Alice H. Yoshina, Ikebana, Atsuo Nishioka, kendo, and George Durham, Japanese music.

In 2005, the organization recognized and honored the Americans of Japanese Ancestry (AJA) Veterans who served with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the 100th Battalion and the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) during World War II.

In 2007, the association recognized and honored six additional cultural treasures: Shizuko Akamine and Masako Uehara, koto; Isami Ishihara, bonsai; Kiku Kiyabu, oshibana; James Kudo, karate; and Roy R. Yomemori, aikido.

In 2009, the association recognized Hisae Campbell, Japanese dance; Dorothy Mitamura Horita, classical Japanese dance; Merrill S. Kanna, Okinawan dance and sanshin; Naokichi Nozaki, bonsai; Yoshio Obasa, karate; Walter Tachibana, Ka Mon.

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