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. Here are the awardees over the years:
Nihon Bunka awardees are lifetime members of JCSM. Past recipients include:
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