50 years of taking care of a community
By Zenaida Serrano
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Zenaida Serrano
They hold an annual memorial service for early immigrants who have no known relatives and who are buried in unattended graves.
They coordinate with nonprofits and school groups all the cleanings of the Ehime Maru Memorial at Kaka'ako Waterfront Park.
They honor residents celebrating their 80th birthdays with an annual luncheon, lei, certificates of appreciation and other gifts.
"We do what we can in our own little way because of our limited resources," said Roy Tominaga, president of the volunteer-based United Japanese Society of Hawaii.
Established on Sept. 8, 1958, the community service organization celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Members are gearing up for a new year luncheon on Saturday at the Manoa Grand Ballroom, which will kick off activities commemorating this milestone year.
The basic mission of the organization is to promote the welfare of the Japanese people in Hawai'i, foster a positive relationship among members and with other ethnic groups, and promote friendship between the people of Japan and the United States, Tominaga said.
The United Japanese Society of Hawaii prides itself on its annual service projects, including providing entertainment at various homes for the elderly and serving as mentors to local Japanese language students helping participants from Japan at the Honolulu Marathon.
The organization's nearly 230 members are celebrating its past as much as they are planning for the future, Tominaga said.
"We're trying to teach (students) the old values, the traditions," he said. ... "We're trying to instill in the younger generation to continue what the older people are doing today."
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Among other events planned for the United Japanese Society of Hawaii's 50th anniversary year:
Japanese ship visits, Feb. 7: A reception committee welcomes and bids aloha to the crews from Kaiwo Maru of the Japan National Institute for Maritime Training Academy, and will also accompany officers on calls to the Japanese Consulate and elsewhere.
Hanashikata, Apr. 19: Japanese speech festival that encourages students selected by their Japanese language school and high schools to demonstrate their communications skills. Every participant is rewarded with a recognition certificate and gifts. Teachers are also recognized for their dedicated efforts.
50th installation and 50th anniversary celebration banquet, June 6: New officers and board of directors will be sworn in during a banquet that will also celebrate the organization's anniversary.
Yosebaka, July 10: A public memorial service during obon season at the Makiki Cemetery for early immigrants with no known relatives and who are buried in unattended graves. Priests from various temples are invited and jointly conduct the service.
Nenchosha Ian Engei Taikai, Sept.14: Invitations to the Senior Citizen Festival are sent to senior centers, kenjinkai, religious groups and other community organizations. Seniors celebrating 80th birthdays are honored at the luncheon and receive leis, certificates of appreciation and gifts.
Tsukimi No Kai, Oct.14: A traditional Japanese Moon Viewing Festival at Kapi'olani Community College. Enjoy various Japanese cultural activities such as a tea ceremony, haiku-writing, dancing and music, dinner with sake, and an outdoor full-moon viewing session.
King David Kalakaua birthday celebration, Nov. 16: An annual ceremony at the King Kalakaua statue in Waikiki honoring the monarch for his support in initiating the immigration of Japanese plantation workers to Hawai'i, resulting in the Japanese society as it is known in Hawai'i today.
Goodwill visits for elders, December: A special committee visits elderly care homes, producing and directing an entertainment program with performers coming from community resources as well as society members. Shows with songs, dances, group singing and acting bring joy and good cheer to all.
Honolulu Marathon, December: Organization volunteers assist in a community service project for local high school students enrolled in Japanese classes. With members as mentors, the Japanese-speaking students assist visitors from Japan at the information booth and clothing storage tents.
Event dates may change. For details, reach the organization at email@example.com or 941-5889.
Reach Zenaida Serrano at firstname.lastname@example.org.