Japanese exchange fosters understanding

The Japan/Hawaii Cultural Exchange Program ’06 is having its first meeting at 3:30 p.m., Wednesday, at Waimea High School, said Rev. Noriaki Fujimori of the Waimea Higashi Hongwanji.

“Children and adults are welcome,” Fujimori said. “We have two optional exchange programs.”

The first program is with the Ainu—the indigenous people of Japan—and native Hawaiians. The program includes participation in the unique styles of dancing, singing and speaking of the Ainu and Hawaiian people.

The second program is with the Ishikari community of Hokkaido.

“In this program children and adults will stay in private homes, and participate in activities such as local environmental projects, school programs and culture exchange,” Rev. Fujimori said.

It will also include sight-seeing and other activities with the local community.

Additionally, both programs will have some common events, Fujimori said.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Fujimori will talk about the purpose of the program, the schedule of events and the fund-raising project for the trip.

One of the Hokkaido hosts, Hiromochi Shibata, will be at the meeting, Fujimori said.

The deadline to apply for the exchange is May 27. Fujimori said he has room for 25 people, but 15 would be perfect. So far, he has 12 signed up for Hokkaido.

The tentative schedule calls for leaving Lihu‘e on July 11 and returning between July 22 and July 25. Fujimori estimates that the trip will cost between $2,500 and $3,000, which includes airfare and spending money.

Fujimori hopes that the trip will foster unity through travel, cultural understanding, compassion and shared knowledge.

“Technologically advanced and economically powerful forces are dominating minority cultures,” Fujimori said. “The lifestyle of indigenous people is more simple and more respectful of nature. The precious cultures of indigenous and minority people are fading.

“Now is a good time for modern people to learn from native people,” he said. “The culture of the Ainu on the island of Hokkaido in danger of fading.”

If you would like to participate in this program, or if you have any questions, contact Rev. Fujimori at 338-1847, fujimori@hawaii.rr.com or noriwaimea@yahoo.co.jp.


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