Written by Malia Nagatani Gibson
Hawai’i Herald Intern

During this upcoming school year, a group of students from ‘Aiea High School will implement their own peer education program aimed at teaching their classmates about mental health and the important values ​​of the 100th Infantry Battalion. . They got the idea last year when their teacher Mark Shimabukuro presented the project-based learning challenge created by the 100th Infantry Battalion Commemoration Committee. He asked Hawai’i middle and high school students to identify a problem that concerns them and propose solutions by applying what they know about the 100th Infantry Battalion.

Screenshot of the Aiea High School Peer Education Program slideshow during the 100th Infantry Battalion Student Challenge presentation.

For the students of ‘Aiea High School, mental health was the issue that mattered most to them. In their video for the 100th Infantry Battalion 2022 Challenge presentations, one of the students from ‘Aiea High explained that: “Due to the pandemic and distance learning, teenagers are facing mental health issues and social and emotional learning problems. We hope the stories of the 100th Battalion will inspire teens to never give up, overcome adversity and always persevere.

To combat this mental health issue, the students developed a five-phase plan to share the values ​​of the 100th Infantry Battalion. The first phase is to make sure that the other students know about the battalion and its values. In the presentation, the student said, “We want to educate the students here about the issues the 100th Battalion faced, what they overcame, and how they really overcame it.” The second phase will display the values ​​of the 100th Infantry Battalion and encourage other students to follow by giving awards or certificates each term.

As a next step, students who participated in the challenge would post messages on campus “to encourage and inspire students,” as they said in their presentation. These quotes would include quotes such as “Be the change you want to see in the world” and “Hardship strengthens you for the future”. This phase was influenced by the 100th Battalion’s use of the phrase “Go for Broke” to encourage itself. After that, phase four will be used to focus on mental health issues. In the students’ presentation, one of them said: “For phase four, in order to specifically target the problem in question, we will also distribute documents or display posters on mental health and social learning advice. -emotional. We would have two versions: one to help yourself and to help someone else you might know.

The final phase of the peer education program focuses on teaching students and staff about where to get help if needed. “For our suggested final phase,” the student continued. “We would like to put up posters and materials indicating where to get help and who to contact. It is very important that students, teachers and staff all know who to contact if they really need help.

As Aiea High School students return to school this year, they will be able to use this program to their advantage to get the mental health help they may need and learn more about the lasting impact of the 100th Battalion. infantry. They will discover important values ​​that the 100th Infantry Battalion used to persevere in the face of their own challenges, which can still be applied to any problems they face today. Perseverance, courage and resilience are characteristics that people will always need, and this program at ‘Aiea High School, in remembrance of the 100th Battalion, will remind people of that. Thanks to these Peer Education Program students, all ‘Aiea High School students will receive valuable lessons about the 100th Infantry Battalion and all the mental help they need.


On Saturday, July 16, the United Japanese Society of Hawaii held its annual Obon Service at Makiki Cemetery to honor 289 early Japanese immigrants left behind in Hawai’i. The Bishops of the Buddhist Council of Hawaii as well as Consul General Yutaka Aoki of the Japanese Consulate joined the members of UJSH in honor kanyaku imin (early Japanese contract workers) buried in a yosebaka (pauper’s grave).

The 37th edition Obon-hoyo (memorial service) began with remarks from Christine Kubota, mistress of ceremonies and former president of the UJSH. Kubota began by thanking the crew of JS Izumo and JS Takanami of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force for clearing the area near the yosebaka in time for the ceremony.

“Obon hoyo, or yosebaka imin, as we called it, is one of the reasons I joined UJSH,” Kubota said. [Kanyaku Imin Centennial Committee]we can now pray for the gannanmono and kanyaku, which were the origin of our Japanese-American heritage.

Bishop Kosen Ishikawa of Hawaii’s Jodo Mission presided over the ceremony honoring the 141 gannenmono (first pioneers to migrate from Japan) who sailed to the islands in 1868, the first year of the reign of the Emperor Meiji. After Emperor Meiji and King David Kaläkaua signed a treaty in 1885, tens of thousands of indentured laborers followed the gannenmono to work in the fields of the sugar cane plantations, working 10 to 12 hour days, six days a week, earning around $10-15 a month. . Many hoped to save money to send him back to Japan, but were unable to return home. Those left on the islands without descendants were buried in graves, rotting, knocked over and unattended for decades until the Oahu Konyaku Imin Centennial Committee decided something had to be done.

In 1985, one hundred years after the first contract workers arrived in Hawai’i, 289 neglected graves were placed in a 12-foot yosebaka at Makiki Cemetery to be cared for and commemorated together. The 12-foot tall granite memorial was designed and created in Okayama, Japan, delivered to O’ahu and placed on the yosebaka. The memorial was unveiled on February 8, 1986, and every year since then services have been held in February to remember Hawaii’s early Japanese pioneers until UJSH began holding the Obon service to coincide with the summer season. of Obon.

Front row, right to left: Reverend Jeffrey Soga (Waipahu Hongwanji Mission, representing Hawaii Honpa Hongwanji Mission); Bishop Kenjun Kawawata (Higashi Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii); Bishop Shokai Kanai (Nichiren Mission of Hawaii); Kanzo Nara, president of the UJSH; Consul General Yutaka Aoki, Consulate of Japan; Bishop Kosen Ishikawa (Jodo Mission); Bishop Clark Watanabe (Hawaii Koyasan Shingon Mission); Bishop Shojun Tanaka (Tendai Mission of Hawaii); Rev. Akiko Okada (Higashi Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii). Second row, from right to left: Keith Sakuda, president-elect of the UJSH; Reverend Akihiro Okada, Hawaii Daijingu, former president of UJSH; Rika Hirata, former president of the UJSH; Clyde Matsumoto, former president of UJSH; Casey Miyashiro, member of UJSH; Christine Kubota, former president of the UJSH; Sadao Takahashi, Christine’s husband; Toshimasa Arai, member of Hawaii Meijikai. (Photo by Summer Nakaishi)

“It was the pioneering spirit and remarkable sacrifice that gave others the impetus to follow and come to live in Hawai’i to create a foundation for their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and the next generation,” Consul General Aoki said, noting the great cultural and linguistic differences Gannenmono had to contend with.

The service also honored officers of the Imperial Japanese Navy who died overseas between 1876 and 1899. Sailors traveled the islands to protect the interests of Japanese citizens in Hawai’i and to promote and strengthen friendship and understanding between Japan and Hawai’i.

Bishop Ishikawa began the ceremony with a mukaebior welcoming fire, lighting a candle to guide ancestral spirits to the living world.

“With the tradition of offering Obon, we offer cucumber and eggplant,” Bishop Ishikawa explained. “The cucumber, we consider it a horse. Riding the horse, the ancestor can convert quickly in this world. On the other hand, on the way back to the other world, they climb on the eggplant [symbolized] like a cow, so they can slowly back up…and carry a lot of stuff to take back to the pure land.

Each guest offered incense as the bishops chanted a Buddhist sutra to welcome the ancestral pioneers.

“I have always preferred the word ‘pioneer’ to the word ‘immigrant’, declared the president of the UJSH, Kanzo Nara, closing the ceremony. “Immigrant sounds like a status you would put on your visa application; whereas, pioneer is a person who is an adventurer.

Nara noted that the July 16 Obon hoyo coincided with the 53rd anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar launch. By today’s standards, he said, sailing across the ocean may not sound as grand as flying through space, but in the late 1800s, the 14-day journey was like landing on the moon. “For a young man or woman from Yamaguchi, Hiroshima, or Kumamoto in the Meiji era to embark on such a journey,” Nara said, “it took a real pioneering spirit.”

The yosebaka tour is open to the public at Makiki Cemetery, located at 1630 Pensacola St. between Pensacola St. and Wilder Ave.

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