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JETAA Hawaii Shinnenkai 2014

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JETAA Hawaii Shinnenkai

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.

JETAA Hawaii Shinnenkai

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.

See all the photos for the event on flickr!

Written by jetaahawaii

March 1, 2014 at 7:07 am

Posted in Blog, Events, News

JETAA Hawaii Networker ‘13

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JETAA Hawaii Networker '13 Group Shot

On Wednesday, November 13th 2013, JETAA Hawaii conducted its networking event at Tsunami Hawaii Bar & Lounge. This fun event, though very relaxed, was not meant to be just a social gathering amongst JETAA members. The goal for this event was to assist those alumni who recently returned from Japan, and any other members looking to build their network, by introducing them to fellow alumni who are working in various career fields & participating in various Japan related organizations here on Oahu.

This event had a variety of participants attending. The Consulate General of Japan in Honolulu showed its support by having five representatives attending, amongst them Deputy Consul General Kazunari Tanaka and Consul Megumi Otsuka. JETAA Hawaii would like to greatly thank the consulate for their participation. A few of the other organizations & companies that had representation at this event includes the Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau, Japan America Society of Hawaii, University of Hawaii HELP Program, Hawaiian Airlines, the Disney Aulani Resort, the Hawaii Air Force National Guard, Hawaiian Electric, and the YMCA in Nuuanu.

JETAA Networker '13

The program for this event was not so long-winded. Each person in attendance was given some time to speak in front of everyone introducing themselves, talking about their JET experience, and mentioning the company and/or organization they represented. The rest of the time was spent eating some delicious food and casually conversing with one another. The mixed group in attendance made for a very fun time. There were many new faces, some who have recently returned from Japan and some who have recently moved to Hawaii from other states. Having these new friends attend and adding them to our membership has only diversified and strengthened JETAA Hawaii. With continued support and participation in events like the Networker, JETAA Hawaii will remain strong and can continue to promote the JET Program here in Hawaii. Thank you again for all of those who helped promote, organize, attended this event.

Written by jetaahawaii

November 16, 2013 at 9:48 pm

Posted in Blog, Events, News

A Kenjinkai Experience: Yamaguchi Visits Hawaii

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By Jason Yumen


Honolulu Yamaguchi Kenjinkai and delegation from Iwakuni City Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan.

Along with my role as a JETAA Hawaii officer, I have made an effort to be apart of a local kenjinkai here on Oahu. I have been a member of the Honolulu Yamaguchi Kenjinkai (HYK) since last spring. Since joining the group, I have been introduced to many of the members, which includes Honolulu city council member Ann Kobayashi, and participated in some of their very enjoyable events.

The most recent event I took part in happened on the evening of October 10th at the Pacific Beach Hotel in Waikiki. On that evening, various members of HYK were invited to a reception hosted by the mayor of Iwakuni City (Yamaguchi prefecture) along with members from the Iwakuni Chamber of Commerce. They were in Hawaii as apart of a delegation of 200 some odd members going to Kauai to celebrate a 50-year anniversary celebration for the sister city relationship between Kauai and Suo Oshima in Yamaguchi, Japan.

I learned from HYK President, Mr. Ray Sakai, that HYK was a combination of a number of separate kenjinkai that came together a few years back. One of the kenjinkai that was integrated into HYK was the Iwakuni kenjinkai. Some of the HYK members today still maintain contact with their family members in Iwakuni and in other cities across Yamaguchi prefecture.

The evening started off with a performance of traditional Yamaguchi dance. The Japanese performers danced throughout the banquet room in unison. They moved with grace and smiles on their faces. Many of the HYK members in attendance actually joined in. This showed that the connection between some of the kenjinkai’s members and their ancestral customs were still quite strong. After the performance, speeches were given by HYK president Ray Sakai, Iwakuni City mayor Yoshihiko Fukuda, and Iwakuni Chamber of Commerce chairman Hisashi Nagano. It was pleasant to see that though the speakers could not speak a language other than their native tongue all that well, they made an effort to do so. It was also interesting to hear that these two groups, HYK & the local government delegation from Yamaguchi, have met before in years past. I am glad to hear that as a member I will continue to have the opportunities to be apart of events like this in the future.

As the speeches and toast was made, guests lined up at the buffet lines to enjoy a delicious buffet dinner provided by the hotel. The guests were intermingled throughout the banquet room. You could hear a lot of Japanese and broken-Japanese being spoken. The one thing is for sure: the atmosphere was very relaxed and pleasant. Two of the dancers were seated at my table along with one of the HYK officers, two Fukushima kenjinkai officers, and a fellow JET alumnus who serves in the military. It was nice speaking Japanese since I do not get to practice it too often. I also spoke a lot about my ancestry and some of the things I do as a JETAA Hawaii board member. Most of the delegation I talked to have heard about the JET Program. I was actually thanked by some of the delegation members for having taken part in the program. It goes to show how reputable the JET Program is.

The night wrapped up with closing speeches, gift exchanges, and photo taking. I thought the event was a very good one. I very much hoped to take part in events in which I can directly interact with Japanese organizations. Being a part of a kenjinkai can provide that type of event. Continuing to promote intercultural exchange is something I feel I can do as a JET alumnus. HYK is not the only kenjinkai looking for JET alumni support. JETAA Hawaii often receives invites from various kenjinkai seeking for volunteers to assist with welcoming Japanese guests and/or to take part in some sort of event. With the declining number of members throughout many of the kenjinkai here in Hawaii and wonderful events they provide, I encourage all JET alumni to look into joining a kenjinkai.

Yamaguchi Kenjinkai Hawaii 2013

Left to Right: Mr Hisashi Nagano (Iwakuni Chamber of Commerce Chairman), Jason Yumen (JETAA Hawaii President), Mr. Yoshihiko Fukuda (Mayor of Iwakuni City), and Mr. Ray Sakai (Honolulu Yamaguchi Kenjinkai President)

Written by jetaahawaii

October 17, 2013 at 8:21 pm

Posted in Blog, Events, News

2013 JETAA Welcome Back Reception

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2013 JETAA Welcome Back Reception

On October 3rd, the Consulate General of Japan in Honolulu hosted their annual welcome back reception for the JET Program participants who recently returned to the island. This year, the consulate welcomed back 12 JET participants. Helping to celebrate the occasion, supporting university professors, various volunteer group representatives, local Japanese media, and Hawaii JET alumni were in attendance.

MC for the event was JET Coordinator at the Consulate General of Japan in Honolulu, Ms. Lisa Sakamoto. Consul General Toyoei Shigeeda gave a heartfelt opening speech, which expressed great satisfaction towards the returning JETs as they fulfilled their obligation of being splendid ambassadors and promoters of international exchange. He also noted his desire for the returning participants to continue promoting the JET Program and intercultural exchange here in Hawaii. Through their first-hand insight and positive experiences, it is hoped that more young people can learn from these new JET alumni and be motivated to participate in the program themselves.

Speaking on behalf of the JET returnees, Mr. Richard Kiyabu (Hiroshima ALT) presented the audience with his own positive experience through narration, video, and song. A very entertaining presentation, Rich shared photos & video of his time in Kui, Hiroshima. Rich shared some of his cherished memories of his experience. He often referred to Kui as his hometown and it was easy to see how much of a positive impact his JET experience had on him. Along with photos & video, Rich’s presentation also came complete with a musical rendition of AKB48’s ヘビーローテーション. Rich had everyone clapping and singing along with smiles on their faces, including Consul General Shigeeda, as he jammed along on his ukulele.

Other speakers included Selection Committee member Dr. Robert Huey, JETAA Hawaii President Jason Yumen, and Center for Career Development & Student Employment counselor at the University of Hawaii Manoa Ms. Melanie Takahashi.

After the formal program, a group photo of all those in attendance were taken. JETAA Hawaii took a moment to congratulate all the returnees on a job well done and to inform them of up-coming JETAA Hawaii events and volunteer efforts. Guests were then ushered to the dining area and treated to a lovely buffet dinner prepared by the consulate’s gourmet kitchen. Guests enjoyed their dinner, along with pleasant conversation at their tables over looking the grassy lawn area. Individual JET experiences and stories were shared. There was a lot of smiles and laughter throughout dinner. The night ended with Consul General Shigeeda bidding his guests at the door a good night, good luck, and his hope to see them again soon.

Written by jetaahawaii

October 13, 2013 at 10:15 pm

Posted in Blog, Events, News

JNTO Sets Target of 10M Visitors to Japan

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JNTO We received a request from the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) to help spread awareness of their online efforts to provide a variety of travel information to the general public, including affordable and unique travel products and services from partner travel companies, hotels and airlines.

That said, we hope you will consider visiting JNTO’s highly useful and educational site at  The Organization has set a target of getting 10M visitors to Japan this year, so spread the word!  JNTO’s site is definitely a great starting point for anyone considering visiting Japan.

Written by jetaahawaii

October 5, 2013 at 8:03 pm

Posted in Blog, News