Preserving Culture With Our Keiki

By Lenny Yajima Andrew
Wednesday - June 15, 2011 Share

By Lenny Yajima Andrew, President
Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii

Kodomo no tame ni (For the sake of the children) is a simple phrase that reminds our dedicated staff and volunteers every day about the importance of carrying out the mission of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii.

For the past 24 years, the center has been a driving force in the community, working to perpetuate and preserve the evolving Japanese American experience for all of Hawaii’s children.

In keeping with this commitment, the center has enhanced its educational programs. This past school year, we serviced and helped educate more than 3,100 students on Oahu through hands-on field trips, Discovery Box presentations and a cultural day camp for kids.

Of that number, 1,600 students from 19 public schools were brought to the center on a sponsored field trip at no cost to the students. The center waived all field trip fees, and with the help of a generous grant, bus transportation also was provided.

Some teachers mentioned that this was the first time there was 100 percent participation on a field trip. It is comments such as this that make our mission so important.

Docent Valerie Okihara puts learning in the hands of these students by encouraging hands-on exploration of bentobako (lunchbox) at the Japanese Cultural Center. Photo courtesy of th Japanese Cultural Center

But we can’t do it alone. On Saturday, July 23, at Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort and Spa, we will honor a Japanese national treasure and an individual who also understands the importance of educating our children.

Dr. Genshitsu Sen, a 15th generation grand tea master from Japan’s Urasenke Tea School, will be recognized at our annual gala for his life’s work to promote peacefulness through a bowl of tea. This fundraising dinner is vital to all of the center’s services, including our educational programs.

For more information on the fundraising event or how you can help us educate more of Hawaii’s children, please visit or call us at 945-7633.

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