By: Jason Yumen
On February 15th, JETAA Hawaii held its annual shinnenkai (New Year’s Party) at the New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel’s Miyako Restaurant in Waikiki. It was a perfect setting, complete with ambiance and food reminiscent of Japan, and an award-winning view overlooking Waikiki Beach. There were fifteen attendees at this event, not a large amount of participants but just the right amount to comfortably fit in the restaurant’s large tatami room. Guests were comprised of current and past board members, representatives from the consulate, and a handful of JETAA Hawaii members & guests who were able to free up their time to attend.
As the sun slowly set below the horizon, each guest gave a short self-introduction. This was followed by an opening speech and kampai given by JETAA Hawaii president Jason Yumen. The hope for JETAA Hawaii this coming year is to continue advancing as an alumni association, promoting and representing the JET Program here in Hawaii. Once the introductions were completed, everyone settled into conversion with each other. It was not long before the food was brought out by servers dressed in traditional Japanese garments. The food was delicious and portions were large! There were Japanese beers and sake on the table. All the items of food were beautifully plated. The attendees enjoyed their dinners and conversation at a casual pace and the atmosphere was absolutely positive.
In usual shinnenkai fashion, following dinner was a game. The game was a standard trivia game but a small prop was used to make things more interesting. The prop was a small pirate-in-the-barrel game called “Kuro-hige.” As guests answered the trivia questions correctly, they had the opportunity to stick a little plastic sword in the barrel, hoping to make the pirate jump out of the barrel. It took some time but eventually there were 7 winners in all, their prizes being gift cards to stores like Shirokiya, Nijiya, and Don Quixote. Although not everyone received a gift card, everyone went home a winner that night. Gift bags were also arranged by JETAA Hawaii so everyone received a little something. Though a ni-ji kai was not held after the dinner, everyone went home having experienced a night full of fun and relaxation. It was a pleasant start to the new year for JETAA Hawaii.