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Nihon Bunka Awards

Each year, the Japanese Cultural Society of Maui bestows its prestigious Nihon Bunka Award/s to outstanding individuals for their excellence and lifetime dedication to the perpetuation of the Japanese arts and culture, and for their unselfish willingness to share their talents with the community to inspire future generations. Nomination form for 2024.

Nihon Bunka awardees are lifetime members of JCSM. 

Here are the awardees over the years:

2023 - Deidre Tegarden, Christopher and Lynn Curtis

Deidre Tegarden

As Executive Director of the Nisei Veterans Center, Deidre Tegarden has kept the spirit and legacy of “Go For Broke” alive through a dynamic and busy calendar of activities at the Center that promote Japanese culture - tea ceremony, bon dance workshops, anime movie screenings, leadership training, in addition to an archive of more than 200 special collections relating to Maui Nisei veterans.

She is a current Director At-Large for the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, and was instrumental in the success of a significant number of programs such as the Gannenmono 150th anniversary celebrations. She received a Certificate of Commendation by Japanese Consul General Koichi Ito for her contributions to the Japanese-American community and for the deepening of mutual understanding and friendship between Japan and other nations. As Council Leader for the US-Japan Council, she has also convened events for the Regional Women In Leadership program, which advances opportunities for women in the context of US-Japan relations.

Tegarden served as Chief Protocol Officer for Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Gov. David Ige. As a volunteer to the Maui County Sister Cities Foundation, Deidre provided Japanese protocol workshops, and has served as translator for numerous Japanese dignitaries. Her involvement in various initiatives with Japan has resulted in student exchange programs, as well as US-Japan business and governmental collaboration.

She also served as Chief of Staff to the Office of the Mayor, Director of the Office of Economic Development for the County of Maui, and as the Executive Director for Big Brothers Big Sisters Maui. She was a recipient of Pacific Business News’ “Forty Under 40” Award and a graduate of the Weinberg Fellows Program. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Japanese and Chinese Studies at the University of Maryland.

Christopher Curtis & Lynn Shikatani Curtis

As Curtis Sensei and Lynn Curtis Sensei embody the spirit of Aikido, passed on through them from their teacher, the late Shinichi Suzuki Sensei, to all their students.

Curtis Sensei is currently the Chief Instructor of the Hawaii Ki Federation (HKF) and formerly the Head Instructor of Maui Ki Aikido. He has trained fervently in the art of Aikido for over 48 years. He began his training in 1974 with his teachers Koichi Tohei Sensei in Japan and Shinichi Suzuki Sensei on Maui. Curtis Sensei served as Suzuki Sensei’s otomo, accompanying him to attend and teach seminars around the world. As Chief Instructor of HKF, Curtis Sensei teaches Aikido and Ki Principles throughout Hawaii, the United States, and Europe. He continues to teach a weekly meditation class at Maui Ki Aikido and trains annually, receiving instruction from his current teacher Kaicho Shinichi Tohei in Japan. Curtis Sensei has also authored several books about his Aikido practice—Letting Go; Ki Aikido on Maui: A Training Manual; and Otomo: A Journey, a semi-autobiographical account of his many years of practice.

Lynn Curtis Sensei is currently a Senior Instructor and Head of the Children’s Program at Maui Ki Aikido. She began training with Shinichi Suzuki Sensei on Maui in 1978. Lynn Curtis Sensei assisted Suzuki Sensei for many years, accompanying him to Japan on numerous occasions. Lynn Curtis Sensei continues to teach a weekly children’s class at Maui Ki Aikido and also continues her training with Kaicho Shinichi Tohei in Japan. As a Senior Instructor and Children’s Instructor, she has touched the lives of many hundreds of Maui children for the better.


Shinnen Enkai took a hiatus for 2021 and 2022 due to the pandemic.

2020 - Rev. Shinkai Murakami, Kirk Kurokawa and Sen. Joe Tanaka

Reverend Shinkai Murakami was born in Fukuoka, Japan and is the current residing minister for the Wailuku Hongwanji Mission since 2004.

During his previous assignments, he helped reorganize the Japanese Language School and was appointed to the board of the Hawaii Japanese Language School Association in 1988. Rev. Murakami also served as president of the Hawaii Japanese Language School Association.

As the principal of the Japanese Language School for the Wailuku Hongwanji, he has implemented new programs that have significantly increased student enrollment over the years.

He was a former president of the Japanese Cultural Society of Maui and assists many community programs and organizations, volunteering to teach calligraphy, Japanese cooking and many others.

Sensei Murakami’s contributions to the community doesn’t go unnoticed and we thank him for his years of service.

Former State Senator and Maui County Councilmember Joe Tanaka has served the Maui County community for decades with an emphasis on economic and cultural development.

He found the Maui Japanese Chamber of Commerce and led to the creation of a sister-chamber relationship with Fukuyama City, Hiroshima, Japan in 1997. This relationship then led to the creation of the Fukuyama City – Maui County sister city relationship in 2008.

In recent times, Senator Tanaka has also spearheaded the effort to build the Rose Garden fronting the County building to showcase our friendship with Fukuyama and other sister cities.

Joe Tanaka had a vision for Maui to have international relationships because he realized that it would help our local residents to not only appreciate our own culture and traditions, but also learn from others across the world, especially Japan. It is because of his spirit of caring for the community and a lifetime of service that Senator Joe Tanaka is receiving the Nihon Bunka Award.

Kirk Kurokawa, a local boy of Hawaiian, Japanese and Chinese descent, was born and raised on Maui. He received a BFA with distinction in Illustration from the California College of Arts and Crafts. In 2001, he returned home to Maui, became a self-taught oil painter and pursued his dream of becoming a fine artist.

Kurokawa’s paintings focus predominantly on the “simple, everyday life moments” and have been showcased in various exhibitions throughout the state. Most recently, his installment at the Nisei Veterans Memorial Center’s mural has brought the 442nd Regiment Combat Team and 100th Infantry Batallion’s history to life.

Many of his paintings feature aspects of the Japanese culture such as scenes from bon dance, Maui Matsuri, Tokyo life, Japanese wood carver, among others.

With his desire to achieve goodness and truth through his art, he hopes to make a difference in the community. Most importantly, he would like to pass on the knowledge of art to the future artists of Hawaii in the hopes of creating a much more diverse art community that is truly creative.

2019: Ronald Fukumoto, Rinko Jeffers

2018: Tom Fujita, Stephanie Ohigashi, Mildred Okuda

2017: Yuki Lei Sugimura

2016: Lynn Araki-Regan, Jan Matsushita, Yaeko Yamamoto

2015: Deron Furukawa

2014: Hiroko Deleon

2013: Kay Fukumoto

2012: Rev. Torako Arine & Hiroshi Arisumi

2011: Leonard Oka & Hideko Zwick

2010: Michael Hondo

2009: Rev. Jeffrey D. Soga

2008: Chieko Nagata, Kiyoko Ohata, Robert Montgomery

2007: Lillian Maeda, Herbert Kogasaka

2006: Ken Tasaka, Walter Ouye

2005: Sayoko Kobata, Shinichi Suzuki

2004: Lily Tam, Pundy Yokouchi

2003: Albert Watanabe

JCSM Past Presidents

  • Edith Izumi
  • Yukie Ueoka
  • Patsy Kinoshita
  • Carol Ogawa
  • Chikae Hironaka
  • Marion Kohatsu
  • Ann Sato
  • Evelyn Sano
  • Mary Seriguchi
  • Mabel Kobayashi
  • Florence Ueoka
  • Jan Yagi Buen
  • Patricia Masumoto
  • Jay Van Zwalenburg
  • Ann Takakura
  • Kyoko Kimura
  • Sarajean Tokunaga
  • Lynn Araki-Regan
  • Yuki Lei Sugimura
  • Kay Fukumoto
  • Keith Regan
  • Tiffany Iida
  • Rev. Jeffrey Soga
  • Brian Nagami
  • Rev. Shinkai Murakami
  • Brian Sato
  • Deron Furukawa

Japanese Cultural Society of Maui, Inc.   Est. 1969

P.O. Box 5090, Kahului, Hawaii 96732     jcsmhawaii@gmail.com

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