Skip to content

December 2019 Oshirase

President’s Message

I can’t believe we have already reached another holiday season; it’s amazing how quickly this year went by! With all we have going on in our busy lives, we need to put all the anxiety of too much to do with too little time to do it’ aside and just go with the flow and enjoy it while we can.  Have a safe and wonderful Holiday Season and see everyone next year!!

Over the past couple of months:

  • 10/18/2019 we had celebrated the life of a past President and dear friend Mr. Barry Taniguchi. Thank You Barry for all that you have done for our community!
  • 10/20/2019 The 21st annual Taste of Hilo at the Sangha Hall where we have donated over $170k to the Hawaii Community College over the years.
  • 10/27/2019 The Hawaii Explorations Expo at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium celebrating innovation and technology with this year’s key note speakers Henk Rogers and Kalepa Babayan
  • 11/4/2019 We welcomed our new intern Janine Iseri currently a student at UH. She hit the ground running updating and upgrading our social media efforts!!
  • 11/13/2019 The Education Committee held an Open House at the Hawaii Community College Automotive Program where we were not only fed but privileged to gain access to a tour and demonstration of what they do. We were also able to hear testimonies from several students who are currently in the program!!
  • 11/16/2019 We were able to participate with our sister organization The Japanese Community Association of Hawaii’s Bunka No Hi celebration Omikoshi parade and cultural events at the Sangha Hall.
  • 11/18/19 There was a special board meeting where Mayor Kim shared his thoughts on Maunakea and he shared his “A Way Forward Maunakea”
  • 11/21/2019 There was a Goji Kara at the Grand Naniloa Resort were our members was able to enjoy the grounds, the food, the music but most of all each other!! 

Donn Mende
JCCIH, President





JCCIH Welcomes Two Honorary Members!

On behalf of the members of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Hawaii, it is with great honor to announce that our Board of Directors has unanimously approved the following Honorary Members.

David Ikawa on August 12, 2019

Robert Fujimoto on October 14, 2019

This is in recognition of their many valuable years of service as a member and accomplishments that benefited our Chamber and the community of Hilo, Hawaii.

An honorary membership with the Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Hawaii gives you all the rights and privileges as a Regular Member. Honorary Members may not serve as an officer of the organization and no dues or special assessments will be necessary.

We will announce our Honorary Members at the Chamber’s GMM & Year End Celebration that will be held on Thursday, December 19, 2019, at the ʻImiloa Astronomy Center, 4:30 pm – 8:30 pm. Please join us and RSVP!

Mahalo Nui Loa for your continued support of the Chamber!

Gina Tanouye
Membership Development Committee Chair

Donn Mende
President 2019-2020



Social and Cultural Committee Goji Kara at the Grand Naniloa Resort

This November JCCIH members were invited to an evening of pupus, drinks and fellowship at the beautiful Grand Naniloa Resort.

Ed Gunderson and his team put on quite the event, offering chamber members tours of the newly renovated facility, live music and prize drawings that rivaled the casinos of Las Vegas!  Captivated by the beautiful backdrop of Hilo Bay and Coconut Island, members gathered around a cozy fireplace and visited with old friends and new friends alike.  On behalf of the Social and Cultural Committee of the JCCIH I want to extend a warm mahalo to Ed and his staff for making this Goji Kara a truly memorable event.

On December 19, 2019 please join us for the JCCIH Fall General Membership Meeting and Year-End Celebration “One Starry Night” at the Imiloa Astronomy Center.  Seating is limited so please reserve your seats today.   


Renae Akau
Social and Cultural Committee Chair




21st Annual Taste of Hilo – It’s a Wrap

The Chamber’s 21st Annual A Taste of Hilo was held on Sunday, October 20, 2019, at Sangha Hall. With more than 600 attendees and 30 participating vendors, this year’s event was another success. A couple of new vendors made their appearances this year including Café Boba, Hula Hulas, Jackie Rey’s, Kilauea Lodge, Legacy Hilo, and Minit Stop.

Thank you to our corporate sponsors who helped us defray the cost of the event this year. Sakura sponsors: Big Island Toyota, Hawaii Gas, HMSA, Isemoto Contracting, KTA Superstores, Puna Geothermal, and Sidney Fuke Planning Consultant. Ume sponsors: Big Island Countertops, CU Hawaii, HFS FCU, HPM Building Supply, Hawaii Sheetmetal, Minit Stop and Zippys. Kiku Sponsors CPB, HELCO, and THY & Associates. Bamboo sponsors: Hilo Mechanical and LH Gamble. In-kind sponsors: Business Services Hawaii, Creative Arts Hawaii, Dustin Joshua Acdal Media, Hawaii Printing, and Islandwide Canopy. We’d also like to send a thank you to our silent auction sponsors for the generous donations.

A lot of the success of this annual event can be attributed to the hard working members of the committee; Missy Miyashiro, Dean Fuke, Loren Tsugawa, Allan Onishi, Tracy Nagamine, Chasity Silva, Randy Kurohara, Tracy Yamaguchi, Debbie Shigehara, Jane Horike, Pearl Kang, Owen Nakatsu, Jan Haraguchi-Abundo, Tommy Goya, Steve Ueda, Normann Petersen, Aaron Toman, Dwayne Mukai, Gina Tanouye, Kapua Silva and her daughter Maila, Chad & Shelly Ogata, Peter Tadaki, and Russell Arikawa.

We’d also like to acknowledge the Culinary Arts Students from Hawaiʻi Community College and members of Phi Theta Kappa that assist tremendously each year, and to our super parking lot personnel, Troop 23 Boy Scouts. Many hands made for a most successful event. Thank you everyone!

This year the committee promoted ticket purchasing via the use of the TOH website. An estimated 44.5% of ticket purchases were made online. We learned a lot in the process and know that this is a preferred method for event patrons.

The committee has held two critique sessions and we have a list of things to work on for the 22nd Annual A Taste of Hilo. Excitingly, we’ve also been contacted by a new vendor who wants to participate next year! It’s rewarding to have vendors want to be a part of our event, proves that we’re doing some great things.

In closing, the financial success of the event means that the chamber is poised to make another major donation to Hawaiʻi Community College. Vice Chancellor Joni Onishi mentioned that the chamber has donated more than $220,000 over the past twenty years. This is something that we can all be very proud of.

If you were able to attend, we hope all of you enjoyed the event. If you missed it, we hope to see you next year! If you’d like to be involved we welcome anyone who is interested.

Domoo Arigatogozaimasu!
Tiana Hirota & Mike Miyahira; co-chairs








Education Committee HawCC Open House
Grace Funai

On Nov. 13th, members of the JCCIH participated in an on-campus tour of the Hawaii Community College Autobody Repair & Painting, Automotive Technology, Diesel Technology and Machine, Welding & Industrial Mechanics programs.

Sponsored by the JCCIH Education Committee, this event gave participants an opportunity to engage with the students, learn about the technologies being used in the classroom, check out the facilities and discover possible partnerships.

The event began with a demonstration from students in the Auto Body Repair and Painting program, showcasing similated woodgraining techniques utilizing waterborne autobody paints. Chancellor Solemsaas welcomed the group and a student panel provided heartfelt testimony on their experiences gained at HawaiiCC.

Participants enjoyed a bento prepared by the Culinary Arts students followed by a guided tour of each of the program shops.  Some lucky participants also received commemorative JCCIH laser cut logos made on a fiber laser machine operated by a student. 

It was a great time learning, networking, sharing ideas and seeing possibilities!  We hope that more JCCIH participants will join us this spring for our next JCCIH/Open House featuring the HawaiiCC Culinary fine dining program.  Details to come…stay tuned!





Hawaii Explorations Expo: Celebration of Science and Technology
Yuko Kakazu, JCCIH Education Committee, TMT-Japan and Subaru Telescope

Over five hundred people joined the Hawaii Explorations Expo at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium to celebrate science and technology on October 27. This free, family friendly event featured engaging speakers and fun activities with over 30 interactive booths on innovations in astronomy, space exploration, agriculture, energy production, underwater robotics and more.


Keynote speaker Henk Rogers, a visionary philanthropist for climate action, gave an inspiring talk to the audience. Rogers is known for distributing Tetris to the world. After reexamining his life and legacy following a serious health scare, he decided to devote rest of his life to climate action.  Mr. Rogers founded the Blue Planet Foundation, a nonprofit organization powering the transition to 100% clean energy in Hawaii. He discussed Hawaii’s renewable energy and the ongoing Maunakea and TMT issue. Kalepa Baybayan, a master navigator of Hokule‘a, also gave a presentation about Polynesian wayfinding, connecting the ancient culture with contemporary science and technology.

You can watch interview videos of Mr. Rogers and Mr. Baybayan here.
Lincoln Ashida, Second Vice President of JCCIH served as the moderator of a panel discussion entitled, “Science, Technology, and their Impacts on Hawaii’s Future.”  Representatives of technology, labor unions, astronomy, and education sectors shared their personal experiences and views on science and technology.

The JCCIH Education Committee had an information booth about the chamber and its involvement with various scientific institutions on the Big Island.

Subaru Telescope and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan co-sponsored the expo.

“This year marks the 20th anniversary since the Subaru Telescope started observation and we are so honored to be part of this big celebration of science and technology,” said Subaru Telescope Director Michitoshi Yoshida. 

“We are so happy! So much of our community came today to explore all the cuttingedge scientific research and educational opportunities happening right here on Hawaii island,” said Christian Wong, founder of the Hawaii Science and Technology Museum, who hosted the expo.

The Hawaii Science and Technology Museum is a non-profit educational organization founded in 2015 by Wong, a local firefighter and father of two boys who is passionate about innovation and technology for the future of Hawaii. The museum is dedicated to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education on the Hawaii Island and has hosted various outreach programs such as science camps, math tutoring, after school programs, and robotics competitions. 

The event was also sponsored by donations to the museum, some of which were made in kind memory of Barry Taniguchi, the late philanthropist and CEO/Chairman of KTA Super Stores.

For more information about the event, check out




Seniors Helping Seniors Closing Notice

After a decade of service in Big Island, Seniors Helping Seniors closed business on September 30th , 2019. While demand for our service was stronger than ever, we experienced challenging business
environments due to external factors.

Fortunately, we were able to close business smoothly for both clients and employees. Almost all of employees found new employers and kept serving existing clients without interruption. I thank this community for supporting our organization since our inception June 2009.

As for myself, I have decided to join Geneva Financial that provides both Residential and Commercial loans. I will be working as a loan officer that will enable me to continue serving seniors in a different capacity.

Through Seniors Helping Seniors, I have worked with so many seniors struggling to make ends meet in this Island. But I have also worked with financial companies like Geneva Financial providing financial solutions to some of seniors and improved their lives by creating access to capital.

With rising cost of healthcare and a limited number of healthcare professionals, seniors will face more challenges in coming years. There are not enough solution providers and seniors will need more of them in this community.

In closing, I am excited to be a part of the solution providers and looking forward to helping seniors as a loan officer.

Thank you very much for supporting Seniors Helping Seniors.


Shinichi Matsumoto
Seniors Helping Seniors


UH Regents approve Maunakea administrative rules

Laura Aquino

The purpose of the administrative rules as described under section 20-26-1, is to “provide for the proper use, management, and protection of cultural, natural, and scientific resources of the UH management areas; to promote public safety and welfare by regulating public and commercial activity within the UH management areas; ensure safe and appropriate access to the UH management areas for the public; and foster co-management with the department of land and natural resources in UH management areas.”

The rules now advance through the remainder of the administrative rules
process to Gov. David Ige for final approval. Read more…


Mahalo to JCCIH for helping build a sustainable community
Thatcher Moats

Two recent events – A Taste of Hilo and HawCC Open House – show how JCCIH supports Hawai’i CC and our students and helps build a sustainable community. Read more…

Prestigious 2019 Shaw Prize in Astronomy
Laura Aquino
TMT International Observatory Executive Director, Dr. Edward C. Stone, was recently awarded the prestigious 2019 Shaw Prize in Astronomy for his leadership on the Voyager project. The international award honors excellent accomplishments in three categories: Astronomy, Life Science and Medicine, and Mathematical Sciences. Read more…
Words of Wisdom
“Work everyday to make our community and Chamber a little bit better.”
New Members



Jason “Jase” Takeya
Eclipse Effect Entertainment
120 Uluwai St.
Hilo, HI 96720



Jennifer Yogi
HFS Federal Credit Union
632 Kinoole St.
Hilo, Hi 96720

Joan Platz
Ohio Alliance Arts
2688 Poki St.
Hilo, HI 96720
Natashia Mikami
HFS Federal Credit Union
632 Kinoole St.
Hilo, Hi 96720

Normann Petersen
Suisan Company, Ltd.
333 Kilauea Ave., Ste. 202
Hilo, HI 96720


Tsuneko Nakatani, CPA MBA
New York Life Insurance Company
10885 NE 4th St., Ste. 1400
Bellevue, WA 98004













Back To Top