Doing It For The Ancestors

By Carole Hayashino
President & Executive Director of Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i

“They were descendants of somebody, generations of prints on their DNA, traces of human migrations. They didn’t come out of nowhere. Everyone comes from someone who comes from somewhere else, and this to me is remarkable.” -‘The Descendants: A Novel,’ Kaui Hart Hemmings

Carole Hayashino

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Carole Hayashino

I was inspired to read Kaui Hart Hemmings’ book, The Descendants, after seeing the movie on a flight from California. I was intrigued by the plot and subplots and could not help but reflect upon the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii as we commemorate our 25th anniversary.

It started with a dream – a dream to preserve the history of the Issei pioneers (first-generation Japanese immigrants) and where future generations could learn Japanese culture.

Every day as I walk through the Center, I think of our founders, business and community leaders with a vision to create a permanent facility, owned and operated by a volunteer board with a common goal to perpetuate Japanese American history and culture.

I think about the many individuals and families who sacrificed their time and financial resources to build the permanent exhibit, Okage Sama De, the community gallery featuring contemporary Japanese and Japanese-American artists and the Resource Center, which serves as a library archive and special collections center.

I watch the young children in the courtyard wearing their gi and practicing martial arts in our dojo. I’ve attended a Japanese tea ceremony on the rooftop of our building and from the tea garden and courtyard bridge, I can look out across Moiliili.

The Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii is not just a building. It is a home for all of us and for all generations.

I hope the founders would be proud of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai’i today. We have been good stewards of their legacy – through the Save the Center campaign to our current work to preserve Honouliuli and Hawaii’s World War II confinement sites.

I hope they would support our diverse programs and take pride in the JCCH ohana created 25 years ago. We – the 15-member staff, 200 volunteers, 5,000 members – are committed to the legacy of our founders.

It is a responsibility we have been entrusted with and have the privilege to preserve.

I invite all of you to join us as we celebrate our past.

To the Issei immigrants and founders of the Cultural Center, Okage Sama De, I am who I am because of you.

Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii can be reached at 945-7633.