I learned a lot during the Science Camp. We mostly learned about the history of Hawaii on the island of Hawaii, and this is where I became interested in the difference in expression. When I learned about Pearl Harbor in Japan, the expression was “We attacked Pearl Harbor,” but in Hawaii, the expression was “Pearl Harbor was attacked.” This might seem normal, but if we were the ones creating the action, it would become a passive sentence. From this realization, I learned that when changing a perspective on something, perception on the same subject will become different.
When I visited the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the atmosphere there was unique, with everyone being friendly and easy to talk to, and I was amazed that they all held their own opinions and were filled with determination. This was something I couldn’t experience in Japan, so I was captivated by these people.
After experiencing these two, I started thinking about studying abroad. I was interested for a while, but after experiencing things like the local atmosphere and talking to the Japanese students studying in Hawaii, my thoughts towards studying abroad have become stronger. In the future I would like to work in the field of management, so I would like to have some sort of experience overseas. I believe there are many things that I couldn’t take away with me from this program, but I think there are still things left to learn in Japan, so I would like to start with the things that are around me.
Motoaki Mishima, Tezukayama Junior High School (Nara Prefecture)
When I visited Pearl Harbor, I was moved by the story of the U.S. military holding a water burial service for a Japanese soldier during WWII because he was a man before he was an enemy. I think this story needs to be told especially now when the horror of war is fading. I imagine the Japanese in Hawaii felt lost when the war started between the U.S. and Japan. Despite the conundrum, they did what they needed to do as part of America, which I think is very humane and strong.
Also, Hawaii is losing its natural beauty from trash that is washed ashore. I want to do what I can to protect Hawaii from environmental disruption.
Yamato Kobayashi Nagaoka High School 2nd year
At the Battleship Missouri, we got to hear the story about Japan’s Kamikaze corps. I was deeply impressed by the story about the Zero plane pilot who dived into the battleship and had died and then was given a burial at sea by the American soldiers. Also, the “black tears” that we saw at the Arizona Memorial was shocking. The black dots floating in the water was the “black tears.” I was really surprised that even years after the war, the tears were still flowing at sea, which was definite proof that the war actually happened.
From the study program, I was able to see and hear for myself that Hawaii had actually been attacked by Japan, which reminded me that war was something that should never happen. From now on, I will hold my strong feelings of “no war” and will think about peace. I was able to have an experience that I could only get from Hawaii.
Shunpei Eguchi, Ajimu Junior High School (Oita Prefecture) 3rd year (9th grade)
At the Pacific Aviation Museum, we went inside a historical hanger and were able to have many special experiences, like using a nailing machine as well as wearing the Navy uniform. Also, I was able to see the original Grumman planes that sank Japanese ships, which sent a shudder up my spine. This was because I remembered that it had shot down multiple Japanese pilots in Zero fighter planes. When I felt this fear, I strongly believed that we needed to get rid of war.
Rihito Takamochi, Ekisen Junior High School (Oita Prefecture) 3rd year (9th grade)
There was so much to learn from the study program, but I was most impressed by the Japanese-American immigrants and what we learned from the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii.
The phrase “Okage Sama De” is a value that the Japanese-Americans felt strongly about. At the entrance of the “Okage Sama De” gallery were multiple stone pillars. When you look closely at them, you see that there are engravings on all of the pillars, like the words, obligation and hard-work. The tour guide explained to us that these words were values that the Japanese- American immigrants believed when they came over from Japan, thinking that this place was like heaven, when in reality, they had to work in severe working conditions. I thought that these were really good values.
I felt that the values were all positive ones, except for one of them. This was the phrase “Shikataganai (It can’t be helped.)” I thought this phrase was the only one that had a negative feel to it, and a word that sounded like giving up. However, our tour guide explained to us that the phrase “It can’t be helped” was also a value that the first-generation Japanese-Americans thought as important. She explained that it was a phrase that sounds negative, but that it was a phrase that helped them pull through hard times. When I heard these words, I really started to respect the first-generation Japanese-Americans. If I was in their shoes, and if the place I heard was supposed to be paradise, was hot and had hard working conditions, I probably would have just gone back to Japan. Therefore, I thought that the Japanese-Americans were strong people who were more Japanese than the Japanese of today and had wonderful values.
Tsuzumi Abe, Ekisen Junior High School (Oita Prefecture) 3rd year (9th grade)
The Japanese-Americans are immigrants who came to Hawaii from seven different prefectures of Japan. However, after the Pearl Harbor attack, the immigrants became enemies of the state, and were put into internment camps in the middle of the dessert. Then they joined the military to show proof of their loyalty and paid the ultimate sacrifice to show that they were American citizens. Then the Japanese-Americans not only won the battle, but also were victorious against racism. Later on, the Japanese-Americans taught the culture of Japan to the locals and called upon famous Japanese stars to come over in order to raise the recognition of Hawaii, which then won the respect of the locals and were then recognized by the people. So, the reason why the Japanese people are welcomed in Hawaii, is because of these first and second-generation Japanese-Americans. I have so much appreciation for the Japanese-Americans who worked though hardships, but never gave up and fought for their future and won against racism, while sacrificing themselves in the war. I believe we should learn from these Japanese-Americans who never gave up and fought through everything.
Haruhiko Yabe, Seibu Junior High School (Oita Prefecture) 3rd year (9th grade)
I was reminded through the peace program in Hawaii, that the war had caused people to go through much hardship and had to be separated from their family. We are living in a peaceful world right now, however, no one knows when another war might happen. I think that it is our duty to tell our family and friends and as many people as possible about the suffering of war, and how important peace really is. Therefore, I now cherish the peace we have today.
Tomomi Honda, Seibu Junior High School (Oita Prefecture) 3rd year (9th grade)
I learned why the people of Hawaii welcomed us Japanese with great hospitality. Before going on this trip, I thought the reason why people were nice to us was because we had good manners. This was my mistake, and I learned for the first time that it was because of the efforts of the Japanese-Americans.
The original intent of the Japanese immigrants was to grow sugar cane, although they were so different in their appearance and what they wore that they were discriminated against. However, even with discrimination, the hard-working Japanese men were recognized. Even during the war, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which was made up of only Japanese- American men, had pulled off the impossible when they saved an American squad surrounded by the European forces, which greatly raised their reputation.
Through the study program, I learned that it was all thanks to the Japanese-American that we were welcomed this way. I thought in order to not let their efforts go to waste, we need to be more courteous, be grateful for this kindness, and do our part to further relations between Hawaii and Japan. Also, I would like to inform more people about what they did and how great the Japanese-American people were.
Miyabi Nara, Seibu Junior High School (Oita Prefecture) 3rd year (9th grade)
During the peace program, I learned many things that I wouldn’t have been able to learn back in Japan. I found a will that was written by a Japanese soldier that was about to go to war. The most memorable thing about it was that it said, “I am honored to go and fight” when going to war meant that they might even die. I almost cried, because a teenager fighting to protect his country was writing this. I probably wouldn’t be able to write anything like this. In order to never go to war again, I would like to teach many different people of what I learned.
Nodoka Hara, Hokubu Junior High School (Oita Prefecture) 3rd year (9th grade)
Back in the day, about fifty pilots tried to attack the battleship Missouri, but most of them were shot down before reaching the ship. However, one of the planes had barely made it and left this dent that we see here on this picture. After that, the pilot had passed away. This dent has been kept since then. I heard it was because they didn’t find the need to patch it up. Fifty people lost their lives, and all they did was this dent. I think that this dent isn’t anything close to an attack. Maybe they didn’t think their lives were precious like we feel today.
I am glad that I learned the sad histories of Hawaii, and not just the happy ones. Also, I am happy that I was able to directly tell my friends and family about what I learned in Hawaii.
Kyouko Tokumitsu, Hokubu Junior High School (Oita Prefecture) 3rd year (9th grade)
I was able to learn a lot about peace during my stay in Hawaii. We teach the peace program on a yearly basis, but it’s usually done from a Japanese perspective. However, this time around we learned peace from a Hawaiian perspective and details of how the Japanese-American soldiers played a huge role during the war. It was an eye opener for the students and even for the teachers, including myself. We have taught multiple classes on peace, but after experiencing all this, I feel ashamed that the classes we taught seemed so superficial. Also, I was finally able to understand the homework that Ms. Miyahara had given us beforehand.
I strongly believe peace in Japan is being threatened. We want our children to take part in creating a peaceful world and we want them to keep developing those characteristics. For this reason, I believe the program had great results. In order to connect with people around the globe, starting with Hawaii, I feel it is important that we teach them precise historical facts.
Seichirou Kojima, Teacher for short term study abroad program
Among many places we visited, the USS Missouri was one that stuck out to me. There was a heartwarming story about an American told by the tour guide. When the Kamikaze pilot flew onto the deck, the battleship fired down its machine guns and the right wing of the Kamikaze plane and the pilot crashed on board. After this moment the captain said the pilot was a “fellow warrior who had displayed courage and devotion, and who had paid the ultimate sacrifice with his life, fighting for his country…” and he ordered the soldiers to hold a burial for him. I’m still thinking if this was in Japan, or if I was in his shoes, would I have been able to do the same? Through this study program the one thing that had changed me was that I would express my thanks more often. Before this program I had many situations where I know I should say my thanks, but I couldn’t say it or put it into action. Although after the program, I noticed that I was saying “Thanks” a lot more often. I think this is the result of the many opportunities Hawaii has given me to use the word “Thank you.” I’m happy that I had grown to be able to express my feelings so openly.
Nao Nakayama, Sera West Junior High School (Hiroshima Prefecture) 2nd year (8th grade)
My third goal I set for myself was “peace.” I have been to the Heiwa park in Nagoya, and the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima, so I understand how bad it was during the war. Even though I had a good idea of what peace was, I found that I didn’t know enough. We were taken to many different sites in Hawaii, but the most memorable one was the Ehime Maru Memorial. Even though this event had nothing to do with war, I felt a deep sadness to it. I found that true peace isn’t the result of “no war,” but to prevent accidents like this that take the lives of people.
Kakeru Maeomichi, Sera West Junior High School (Hiroshima Prefecture) 2nd year (8th grade)
There was a story about the American Navy pulling up bodies of the people who passed away after the Ehime Maru ship had sunk. It might be something normal in Japan, but apparently, it is a taboo to do so in America. I found that this was one of the cultural differences. However, the American Navy had pulled up the bodies from the ocean. This meant that the American Navy learned about the Japanese tradition of cremation and came to understand it. I thought the stance of coming to understand the customs of another culture, and then also putting it into action was incredible. Even after half a year has passed, it has become a result that both America and Japan had come to agree upon.
The story we heard when we visited the USS Missouri was also something that impressed me. It was a story about the kamikaze suicide plane crashing into the Missouri, and the American soldiers giving a burial at sea to the Japanese soldier who died on deck. It is said that the key was the words of the captain “a fellow warrior who had displayed courage and devotion, and who had paid the ultimate sacrifice with his life, fighting for his country.” Like in this case, I thought that paying respect to the deceased regardless of nationality or friend or foe was not something anyone could do. It was a story that made me think, if I were to be in the same shoes as the captain, I probably wouldn’t have been able to say such respectful words to an enemy, let alone give a burial. Therefore, I felt that if both sides have the heart to feel for each other, there would be no war.
Fumika Ishigatsubo, Sera Junior High School (Hiroshima Prefecture) 2nd year (8th grade)
I have noticed that the route to become “globally active” through experience, was found in the change that the Japanese American immigrants had to go through. I strongly felt that holding gratitude in your heart and valuing your roots, which I learned from people at the cultural center and the Kenjin Kai, were concepts that were important to become globally active.
Through this program, I learned that becoming global was much more difficult than I had imagined, and I also found that I gained so much more when I actually achieved that goal. As a future teacher, I would like to teach the children who haven’t learned what I did, about the global experiences that I went through to give them hopes and dreams for their future. My goal is to help build global human resource development and contribute to society. I believe what I gained through this program will get me to that goal.
Hiroka Hara, Seinan Gakuin University – Department of Literature – Division of English Literature 2nd year
There was a family crest displayed at the Kanemoto family’s home. I asked if I could hear the history of the Kanemoto family, so they explained while showing me their family tree. The generations before those who immigrated to Hawaii were also listed on the family tree. They said “we want to know more about our family history, but the Japanese writing is difficult to comprehend” so I translated as much as I could using a dictionary. Their attitude toward the family crest, history and Japanese culture seemed more “Japanese” than Japanese in Japan to me. I strongly felt that I would like to continue my personal exchange as well as participating in Kenjin Kai events so the history will not be forgotten.
Ayane Hisaeda, Japanese Red Cross Kyushu International College 2nd year
I was able to reach one of my biggest goals for this program, which was to learn about the history of Japanese immigrants in Hawaii. I had to put together a report on this matter before the visit, so I had some knowledge, but I learned so much more at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii. One of the things that stood out for me was the video on the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. I studied about them prior to the visit, but my feeling toward them changed after watching the video. Before, my thoughts were “a fantastic Japanese-American combat team that won the most medals” and “their strength to show loyalty to America gave them the ability to rescue the lost battalion. There must have been another way to show loyalty, but they were strong.” After watching the video, my impression changed drastically.
The Japanese today are welcomed with aloha, thanks to our ancestors: the issei worked hard to establish their new home in a foreign land in poor conditions, and the nisei never gave up because of discrimination and fought hard during the war. I am very proud to call myself Japanese.
Jun Takashima, Kyushu University School of Economics 2nd year
One of my biggest accomplishments in this program was to learn Hawaii’s history of Japanese immigrants in Hawaii. We are in the era where we can search almost anything on the internet, and I also searched Hawaii’s history of Japanese immigrants before attending this program. Although I had some knowledge prior to arrival, I had a very different feeling about the same facts when hearing about them in Hawaii.
We visited the Hawaii Japanese Center in Hilo and Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii in Honolulu. At the Hawaii Japanese Center, Mr. Arnold was our guide. Using a bento box of his grandmother, he said, “There were immigrants from all over the world working on the plantation, and they all had their lunch break together. During their break, people looked for similarities among themselves. People nowadays may look for differences between each country, but in those times, having the language gap, people tried to find similarities to get along.”
It’s easy to find differences, but it’s rather difficult to find similarities. By finding similarities, we can build a bridge between our gaps. As someone who interacts with international students daily, this was a big discovery for me.
Yukiho Baba, Fukuoka Jo Gakuin University – Faculty of International Career Development 1st year