Diary of a Nisei Week Princess, Part Five: The Trip to Hawai‘i!

The 2015 Nisei Week Court and the 2015 Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival Court visit Lieutenant Governor Shan Tsutsui at the Hawai‘i State Capitol.
The 2015 Nisei Week Court and the 2015 Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival Court visit Lieutenant Governor Shan Tsutsui at the Hawai‘i State Capitol.

 

As I sit here back at my desk, I’m daydreaming about my week in Hawai‘i with my fellow 2015 Nisei Week Court members, our parents, the Nisei Week Hospitality Committee, the 2015 Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival Court, the 2015 Hawai‘i Cherry Blossom Festival Court, and the Hawai‘i Cherry Blossom Festival Hospitality Committee. It was a week filled with ono (delicious) food, warm beaches, and the nicest people on the island.

Princess Camryn Sugita with her parents at the New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel.
Princess Camryn Sugita with her parents at the New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel.

 

As soon as we landed in Honolulu, we were greeted by the local Cherry Blossom Festival Hospitality Committee, who immediately felt like family. After we checked into the New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel, we went straight to the beach, in spite of the fact that it was raining. Later that evening, we joined the 2015 Cherry Blossom Courts from Hawai‘i and San Francisco and the Hawai‘i Cherry Blossom Hospitality Committee for dinner.

Members of the 2015 Nisei Week Court express their love for the islands.
Members of the 2015 Nisei Week Court express their love for the islands.

 

Saturday, March 26 was the big event that we came to town for: the Festival Ball and coronation ceremony, where 15 contestants competed to become the 64th Cherry Blossom Festival Queen and Court. It was the first time I witnessed a coronation (besides our own), and unlike at Nisei Week, only six of the 15 contestants were selected as the Queen and Court.

Members of the 2015 Nisei Week Court donned local-style garb for this visit to Japanese-English radio station KZOO Radio.
Members of the 2015 Nisei Week Court donned local-style garb
for this visit to Japanese-English radio station KZOO Radio.

 

It was nerve-wracking to watch these women perform taiko, walk in evening gowns, recite their speeches, walk in kimonos, and answer an impromptu question on stage. It was hard to believe I was in a similar position just seven months ago. All of the women did an amazing job and their months of training paid off. At the end of the night, we congratulated everyone and took photos with the newly crowned Queen and Court. We even met the Governor of Hawai‘i, David Ige! It was an exciting time to say the least.

The newly crowned 2016 Hawai‘i Cherry Blossom Festival Court, with the 2015 Nisei Week Court behind them.
The newly crowned 2016 Hawai‘i Cherry Blossom Festival Court,
with the 2015 Nisei Week Court behind them.

 

The next couple of days were filled with exploring the island of O‘ahu with the San Francisco Court and the Hawai‘i Hospitality Committee. We climbed to the top of Diamond Head, ate Waiola Shave Ice (my favorite), ate loco moco at Rainbow Drive-In, competed against our parents in the Dole Plantation Pineapple Garden Maze (the parents won), enjoyed shrimp scampi at the famous Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck, and tried Matsumoto Shave Ice on the North Shore. Our bellies and hearts were constantly full.

A Dole Whip straight from the source, with li hing powder on top!
A Dole Whip straight from the source, with li hing powder on top!

 

On Tuesday we made our official visits to City Hall and the State Capitol. We learned about the history and culture of Hawai‘i and met with Lieutenant Governor Shan Tsutsui and Roy Amemiya, Managing Director of the City and County of Honolulu. We then visited Menehune Mac, a local confectioner, and KoAloha Ukulele, whose proprietors have led several popular ukulele workshops at JANM. At the Menehune Mac factory, we learned how they make their macadamia chocolates and then we made a box of our own! At KoAloha Ukulele, we made a ukulele keychain and listened to some Hawaiian tunes. I gained a greater appreciation for the uniqueness of the islands.

The 2015 Nisei Week Court with Roy Amemiya, Managing Director of the City and County of Honolulu.
The 2015 Nisei Week Court with Roy Amemiya, Managing Director
of the City and County of Honolulu.
The owner of Menehune Mac shows how it's done.
The owner of Menehune Mac shows how it’s done.

 

For some members of the San Francisco and Los Angeles contingents, Wednesday was the last day to enjoy paradise. The rest of us, however, spent a few more days shopping, going to the beach, climbing Koko Head Crater, eating more food, and hitting the town with the Hawai‘i Court before going back home on Sunday. We also managed to make some guest appearances on the Japanese-English radio station KZOO Radio, who interviewed us about our festivals back home.

Members of the 2015 Nisei Week Court and the 2015 Hawai'i Cherry Blossom Festival Court savor their beach time in Hawai‘i.
Members of the 2015 Nisei Week Court and the 2015 Hawai’i
Cherry Blossom Festival Court savor their beach time in Hawai‘i.

 

Nine days have never gone by faster than my time in Honolulu for the 64th Cherry Blossom Festival. We created unforgettable memories and lasting friendships with our sister organizations. I am forever indebted to the Hawai‘i Hospitality Committee for planning an incredible week. I can’t wait until they come to LA for this year’s Nisei Week Japanese Festival, when I can reciprocate the spirit of aloha. Mahalo plenty to my new ohana!

Sunrise at Koko Head Crater.
Sunrise at Koko Head Crater.

New Exhibition Touches on Okinawan History

At the Sekai Uchinaanchu Taikai (Okinawa Worldwide Festival), hosted every five years by the Okinawan government, people of Okinawan descent from all over the world come home for a week of activities and socializing. Photo by Allyson Nakamoto.
At the Sekai Uchinaanchu Taikai (Okinawa Worldwide Festival), hosted
every five years by the Okinawan government, people of Okinawan descent from all over the world come home for a week of activities and socializing.
Photo: Allyson Nakamoto.

 

On July 11, JANM will open a new exhibition, Sugar/Islands: Finding Okinawa in Hawai‘i—The Art of Laura Kina and Emily Hanako Momohara. The two artists in the exhibition examine their mixed-heritage roots in Okinawa and Hawai‘i, drawing heavily from ancestral histories. The opening day will coincide with a JANM Free Family Day, which will feature many crafts and activities inspired by Okinawan culture.

Although it is currently part of Japan, Okinawa for most of its history was an independent island kingdom called Ryukyu. Because of its location between the Pacific Ocean and the East China Sea, sailors, traders, scholars, and travelers from Southeast Asia, China, Korea, Japan, and beyond visited the Ryukyu Kingdom. Over time, elements of the languages, arts, and traditions from those countries found their way into the Ryukyuan culture, enriching it and making it even more distinct from its neighbors. In the Okinawan language (Uchinaaguchi), this mixing of cultural influences is called champuru.

A traditional shiisaa (lion/dog) stands guard in Okinawa. Photo: Allyson Nakamoto.
A traditional shiisaa (lion/dog) stands guard in Okinawa. Photo: Allyson Nakamoto.

In 1609, the kingdom was annexed by Japan. Trading continued under the banner of Japan, while the Ryukyuan court system, performing arts, literature, and crafts flourished. In 1879 however, Japan officially took over the kingdom and renamed it “Okinawa Prefecture,” dissolving the Ryukyuan monarchy. The Japanese government then attempted to eliminate Ryukyu’s native culture, replacing it with Japanese language, culture, and laws.

A variety of factors tied to changing social policy in Okinawa soon led to economic hardship and social unrest. At the same time, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 created a need for more immigrant labor in the United States. In 1899, the first group of laborers left Okinawa for Hawai‘i. Emigration then began in earnest from Okinawa to Hawai‘i, to the mainland United States, and to South America.

It is the history of these immigrants that is explored in the art of Laura Kina and Emily Hanako Momohara. How did the former Ryukyuans make their lives in Hawai‘i? How did their culture continue to evolve in Hawai‘i, mixing with even more cultures? Despite all this champuru, there is still something that is distinctively and identifiably Okinawan.

Target FREE Family Saturday: Aloha from Hawaii with KoAloha Ukulele on February 8

KAERU_ALOHA2014

KoAloha Ukulele is coming from Hawaii on Saturday, February 8 to lead performances, workshops, crafts, and all things ukulele at our next Target Free Family Saturday. It’s FREE all day!

Bring your own ukulele to learn basic and intermediate ukulele with Brian Benevente of KoAloha Ukulele and other KoAloha artist partners (11:15am/12:15pm/1:15pm/2:15pm). The little ones will enjoy strum-along and sing-along workshops with George “Gibi” del Barrio as “Abba Geebz” (Grandpa Geebz) at 11:30am, 12:45pm, and 1:45pm. If you don’t have your own ukulele, Anacapa Ukulele will be on-site selling instruments!

There will be solo performances by spectacular ukulele performers Tj Mayeshiro, Jason Arimoto, and Ryo Montgomery at 11:30am, 1pm, and 2:30pm. Plus an All-Star jam finale at 3:30pm with all three performers.

Plus, screenings of award-winning films: My KoAloha Story at 11:30am and The Haumana at 1:30pm; make your own candy leis; send an aloha to someone special by making a valentine with a bit of a Hawaiian touch; and fold an origami Hawaiian canoe.

For complete schedule, visit janm.org/target.

Video of TJ Mayeshiro and Ryo Montgomery performing in Korea:

 

Video of Jason Arimoto performing “Kaze Blues,” an original blues ukulele song about the Japanese picture bride experience in Hawaii in the early 1900s:

Target Free Family Saturday: Ukulele fun & Valentine crafts!

Feb target crafts

Aloha! Are you ready? It’s the first Target Free Family Saturday of 2014 and we are excited to see you!!

On Saturday, January 8th from 11am – 4pm, we’ll be celebrating Hawaii with KoAloha Ukulele, who will be leading performances, workshops, crafts, and all things ukulele…and it’s all FREE! (If you have an ukulele, be sure to bring it to join in the fun.)

A full schedule for the day can be found here.

Not only is Hawaii on our minds, but, we’re also thinking about Valentine’s Day which is right around the corner. All kids can come and think sweet thoughts as they construct a candy lei. We will also have a variety of supplies available for you to make Valentine cards. It’s going to be a fun one so we hope you can join us!

 

 

A/P/A Institute at NYU & JANM celebrate the publication of Franklin Odo’s “Voices from the Canefields”

FranklinOdo-VoicesfromtheCaneFieldsThrough the poetic lyrics of over 200 holehole bushi (Japanese folksongs), Franklin Odo (Founding Director, Smithsonian Institution’s Asian Pacific American Program) traces the experiences of Japanese immigrant plantation sugar workers during the late 19th and early 20th centuries in his new book Voices from the Canefields: Folksongs from Japanese Immigrant Workers in Hawai‘i.

Wednesday, January 22 will be a night of celebration as we join NYU’s Asian/Pacific/American Institute in marking the publication of Dr. Odo’s latest book with a selection of readings, song, and film.

Where: A/P/A Institute at NYU  This event takes place in New York City.

When: January 22, 2014, 6:30 PM

RSVP by Monday, January 20

RSVP + Details

Co-sponsored by the Japanese American Association of New York, Japanese American National Museum, and Hālāwai.

Read JANM’s October 2013 interview with Dr. Franklin Odo on Discover Nikkei >>

Members in Hawaii are invited to attend!

JANM will be in your neighborhood (well, on Oahu) this coming Saturday, October 26 from 4 to 6 p.m. for a Member & Donor Appreciation Reception.

This event is FREE—our Board of Trustees and Board of Governors are hosting this event in order to meet our supporters who live in Hawaii. Appetizers will be served, along with hosted parking, and a hosted bar.

We are grateful for your support, and we welcome this opportunity to greet members of our JANM family.

If you haven’t already RSVP’d, it’s not too late! Just let us know by emailing memberevents@janm.org or calling Alison Wong at 213.830.5657.

* * * * *

Member & Donor Appreciation Reception

Saturday, October 26, 2013
4PM – 6PM

Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii
2454 S. Beretania Street, #101
Honolulu, Hawaii

Catch a special screening of “The Untold Story” at JANM on October 26th!

The Untold Story

On Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 2:00PM, JANM will present a special screening of The Untold Story: Internment of Japanese Americans in Hawai`i. Produced by the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai`i, The Untold Story is the first full-length documentary to chronicle the internment experience of Japanese Americans in Hawai`i.

UNTOLD.STORYWithin 48 hours of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawai`i authorities arrested several hundred local residents—targeting Buddhist priests, Japanese language-school officials, newspaper editors, and business and community leaders. In total, more than 2,000 men and women of Japanese ancestry were arrested, detained, and interned at 13 different confinement sites located in Hawai`i. There was no evidence of espionage or sabotage, and no charges were ever filed against them. The Untold Story chronicles their story through oral histories, documents, interviews, and reenactments.

“While people have heard of places like Manzanar and Tule Lake, the sites where Japanese Americans were incarcerated on the mainland, few people are familiar with places like Honouliuli, Kalaheo Stockade, or that Japanese Americans were held at the Kilauea Military Camp during WWII,” said Carole Hayashino, president and executive director of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai`i.

“Our film, The Untold Story, helps to ensure that the experience of over 2,000 persons of Japanese ancestry in Hawai`i who were picked up and imprisoned simply because of their ancestry is not forgotten.”

Don’t miss this special film screening and the Q&A session with the filmmakers afterwards!

*****

Visit the Discover Nikkei website for an insightful behind-the-scenes article on The Untold Story written by the director, Ryan Kawamoto:

Stepping into the Past: Behind the Scenes of The Untold Story: Internment of Japanese Americans in Hawai‘i >>

The film screening is free with Museum admission. For more information please visit: janm.org/events