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Oshirase – December 2017

President’s Message

Christmas lights, the smell of pine and the sound of “Merry Christmas, Darling” by the Carpenters. There is just something magical about the holidays.  People are friendlier and make time for one another.

It’s a time to reflect, a time to give, and a time to be thankful. From my family to yours, wishing you a safe, healthy and happy holiday season! May you have stress-free shopping, enjoy time with your loved ones and really take in the spirit of Christmas.

What a great couple of months we had!  This year marks the 18th anniversary of our Sister-Chamber relationship with the Higashi-Hiroshima Chamber of Commerce & Industry.  Fifteen JCCIH members traveled to Higashi-Hiroshima in early October to attend the famous sake festival—The Saijo Sake Matsuri.  What a fantastic experience that was!  The hospitality from our Sister Chamber was amazing. A highlight of the generosity was when Mayor Kurota of Higahi-Hiroshima found out that my 8-year-old son plays baseball and is left-handed.

During our visit to his office, he presented me the actual baseball glove of professional player Tomoyuki Kaida from the Orix Buffaloes, a left-handed pitcher from the Hiroshima prefecture. My son was ecstatic when I came home! Please see the article about our trip by one of our delegates—Katie Young Yamanaka.  

On Oct. 22 we held our 19th Annual Taste of Hilo at the Sangha Hall.  A big mahalo to the tri-chairs Randy Kurohara, Ka‘iu Kimura and Tracy Yamaguchi.  This sold out event wouldn’t have been possible without the many volunteers and vendors who made it a success!  

We had a General Membership meeting on Oct. 30 at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center.  Thank you to our guest speakers Sen. Lorraine Inouye, Rep. Mark Nakashima and Rep. Chris Todd.  We heard highlights from last year’s legislative session and projects and bills we can look forward to in 2018.  Our Chamber is one of the few organizations that endorses political candidates.  We invite anyone interested to please join our GAC committee and get involved.  We’re looking forward to a productive session next year for the Big Island.

Our Education committee has been busy putting on “Lunch & Learn” workshops for you.  These one-hour jam-packed sessions include a delicious lunch and have been very successful! For our most recent workshop about email etiquette, I really felt that everyone walked away learning something new.  Mahalo to our instructor Bob Bowman, chairs Debbie Shigehara and Susie Dill and Heather Dansdill from Hilo Intermediate School!

Thank you for supporting your Chamber!  We will continue to strive and work hard for you!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Audrey Takamine
President, 2017-2018






Higashi-Hiroshima Sister City Visit Forges New Friendships

By Katie Yamanaka

Our trip to our sister city chamber, Higashi-Hiroshima, was an international adventure and a chance to learn more about the rich culture that connects us.

The trip got off to a running start with JCCIH President Audrey Takamine, Past President Tommy Goya and Japanese Secretary Naomi Menor visiting the mayor’s office while the rest of the group toured the guesthouse of Kamotsuru Sake Brewing Co., Ltd.

Then, after a brief rest at the quaint Fujinoya Inn, with its beautiful onsen, futons and tatami mat floors, we headed to the Higashi-Hiroshima welcome dinner party at the Saijo Hakuwa Hotel.

Higashi-Hiroshima Chamber of Commerce & Industry (HHCCI) Chairperson Kazuyuki Kihara, HHCCI Vice Chairperson Yutaro Tanaka, and President Takamine addressed more than 100 guests before a performance of Yosakoi dance and a group participation number with everyone dancing in colorful hapi coats and smiling from ear-to-ear.

The next morning we took part in the community’s Saijo Sake Matsuri that draws thousands to the city. After a traditional tea ceremony and opening ceremonies, we visited stands featuring grilled tako, takoyaki and ramen and spent the day enjoying the festival spread out across the city.

One of the highlights for many of us was our visit to the Kamoizumi House zen garden followed by a delicious lunch at Kamoizumi Sake Brewing Co. of “bishu nabe” made with the sake from the brewery.

We ended the day with dinner at the Fujinoya Inn, with at least a dozen courses of succulent beef and seafood, sharing the table and much laughter with several HHCCI board members.

Our final day in Higashi-Hiroshima was action-packed. Several in our party enjoyed a day of golf, while the rest took a ferry to Miyajima Island to visit the island’s temple and enjoy the  famous manju (chestnut was a popular filling).

Before our last dinner, we made a meaningful stop at the Hiroshima Orizuru Tower. The top floor, an open platform, gives a birds-eye view of the Hiroshima Peace Park, including the A-bomb Dome, river and the hypocenter of the A-bomb, which was directly above a hospital. It was a deeply moving, sobering experience to hear stories of what happened when the bomb was dropped. It serves as an important reminder of the fragility of human life and why something like that must never happen again.

The morning of our departure, many members of HHCCI came to say goodbye, and we all left feeling grateful for the experience and the new friendships forged with some amazing people in our sister city.




Education Committee Update
Debbie Shigehara & Susie Dill

Hilo Intermediate School’s Tech Integration Specialist Bob Bowman shared useful rules and tips on e-mail etiquette in the November “Email Etiquette” Lunch and Learn workshop. A delicious lunch was provided by Jan DeLuz of Wiki Fresh.

There were many takeaways but one of the most surprising was how to avoid the nightmare of the blind carbon copy (bcc) when sending emails. The bcc allows you to write to some people while others are secretly on the bcc line. Many times this is misused and mishaps appear when someone replies to all, everyone on the bcc list will appear!

Bowman and his students will lead another Lunch and Learn Jan. 18 on “All About Google.” Watch for details.

Also, save Jan. 25 for a special session with Ashley Kierkiewicz. She will be giving a presentation on social media.

JCCIH members are needed as career guest speakers for Hilo Intermediate School with its Third Annual Community Career and College Fair on Mar. 29, 2018. The hours that are needed are from 8-10:10 a.m. Please contact Laina Torres at (808) 313-5300 or email her at

Anyone wanting to join the Education Committee, please feel free to attend meeting are held on the fourth Tuesday of the month at Subaru’s Conference room at 5 p.m.




Taste of Hilo—Super Success Once Again

This year’s JCCIH 19th Annual A Taste of Hilo delivered on its long tradition of great food, fun fellowship and a signature event of the Chamber that supports higher education in East Hawaii.

With 32 vendors who gave of their time, talents and resources, this year’s lineup of food and beverage purveyors served over 500 ticket holders who all left with a smile and nothing but good things to say about their experience. A special mahalo goes out to David Fuertes, Mike DuPonte and the Sodexho team for their awesome preparation of the Natural Farm Pig, which turned out to be a huge hit as our featured entrée and educational component for the event.

Without the support from our community, our sponsors, our vendors, our silent auction donors and our committee members, this event would not be possible. We express our sincere gratitude for everyone’s generosity and dedication in making this event a success.

We would also like to note that our partnership with Hawaii Community College continues to grow and we appreciate the support that Hawaii CC provides to The Taste of Hilo event.

Again, mahalo to everyone for your support and for once again showing that there is no better way to spend a Sunday afternoon in October than at the Taste of Hilo.

Finally, next year’s 20th anniversary of the Taste of Hilo will certainly be a milestone for the Chamber and promises to live up to that.

Mahalo nui loa and a hui hou!

Tracy Yamaguchi, Ka‘iu Kimura, Randy Kurohara




Government Affairs Update

GAC co-chairs recently met with other chambers and business groups to talk story about shared priorities. We agreed there is room to collaborate on advocacy for important issues that affect small businesses as well as boost our local economy. With the 2018 legislative session around the corner, we look forward to leveraging our partnerships with other business-minded groups.
In October, GAC hosted a talk story with Mayor’s executive assistant, Rose Bautista, and County Council Chair Val Poindexter to get a better understanding how the administration and council are working to tackle Hawaii Island issues and support local business. In November, we hosted a presentation by Jim McCully on Revitalize Hawaii, a grassroots effort to advocate for KIA state land lease extensions and economic development for East Hawaii. If you’ve ever thought of joining GAC, we urge you to do so. It is an excellent way to stay abreast of what’s happening on the legislative front and to be a voice for the business community.
Mahalo to all members who took the time to participate in our business priorities survey. We are compiling results and will issue a formal report to members at the start of the new year.

New Members
Click on new members photos for more information


Atsuko Nitta – Gemini Observatory
Carla Kuo – Creative Arts Hawaii
Daido Baba – Honpa Hongwanji Hilo Betsuin








James “Jim” McMully – McCully Works Inc.
Janice Harvey – Gemini Observatory
Jay Higa – Oahu Publications








Julie Mowrer – University of Hawaii at Hilo
Kristine Ngaden – Creative Arts Hawaii
Laura Ferrarese- Gemini Observatory








Laurie Higashi – Property Professionals Hawaii
Marlene Murray – Pacific Tsunami Museum
T. Ilihia Gionson – Hiehie Communications









Carolyn Mizuno                                  Jeff Ng – Office of the Public                      John Uohara

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