Fumie Nitta is glad she can still walk.
The Waimea woman was one of five centenarians visited by the Japanese consul Masakazu Yamazaki to honor her and the other centenarians with a commemorative certificate from the Consulate General, or Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as well as a celebratory gift.
“I have to go to the post office every day so I have to walk,” Fumie, also an active member with the Waimea Senior Center, said. “But it’s safer now because they put in sidewalks.”
Other centenarians on Yamazaki’s itinerary included Haruko Kimura, Hisako Nitta, Kikue Yamamoto, and Toyokazu Nishida.
“Hisako is my aunt,” Fumie said. “We just did a little something for her on her birthday.”
Hisako Nitta, a resident at the Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital, was surrounded by her family, including a great granddaughter Chayzlin Numazu.
“All of this for me?” Hisako queried while other residents asked if it was her birthday.
Speaking in Japanese, Hisako said events like these are only for the dignitaries, not people like her.
Dimples Kano of the American Japanese Society explained that a lot of the people are “registered” in Japan, and when their 100th birthdays are attained, the tradition is to have a certificate and gift presented on behalf of the Prime Minister or Consulate General.
Yamazaki said there are about 31,000 people who are 100 years old registered in Japan, including those who reside in Hawaii.
Yamamoto was waiting the start of the Hale Kupuna Heritage House Christmas program, her daughter Karen Yamamoto accepting the honors on her behalf.
Kikue Yamamoto, a resident at the Kauai Care Home, was also surrounded by her family, including sister Yoshie Ogata, in accepting the certificate and gift from Yamazaki.
“To be 100 years old is very hard,” said Toyo Nishida to the roomful of friends and relatives at the Regency at Puakea. “I encourage everyone to do the right thing to make it easier when you are 100. Kauai, and Hawaii, is a nice place to live so do the right thing.”
Stephen Nitta, Fumie’s son, made the trip in from Kilauea to accept the awards with his mother.
“When I’m 100, will I get one, too?” he said.