The JCCH wishes to thank all who participated in the 2018 JCCH Photo Contest! We were delighted to receive so many photos that interpreted this year’s theme of “Celebrating 150 Years of Japanese in Hawai‘i!”

Our panel of 5 designers, photographers and/or community leaders reviewed all entries.

We were pleased to be included in the June 7th Gannenmono Commemoration at the Sheraton Waikiki to announce the 2018 photo contest winners. The winning photos are below.

JCCH 2018 Photo Contest - Ejercito

Grand Prize. Under the Sky. Photographer: Kiana Ejercito. 150 years ago, the first generation of Japanese immigrants came to Hawaii in hopes of finding a better life. From there, they spread their culture to help shape Hawaii into a unique and special place to those who live there and to those who visit. In this picture, people of different families, different cultures, and different lives are all there to simply enjoy the festivities. Some go to dance, to eat, or for the obon service, yet everyone is gathered under one sky in one night to enjoy the Japanese tradition of Bon Dance.


JCCH 2018 Photo Contest - Hanada
Finalist. Okage Sama De. Photographer: Paul Hanada. My grandson, a gosei child of many nationalities learning about and paying tribute to his great great grandparents.  Photo was taken at the Japanese section of Kepaniwai Park Heritage Gardens in Wailuku, Maui, Hawaii.


JCCH 2018 Photo Contest - Lum L

Finalist. Remembering the Fallen. Photographer: Leighton Lum. Every Memorial Day the Lantern Floating Ceremony which is held at Ala Moana Beach Park, has become a cultural tradition in Hawaii to celebrate our fallen service men and women, as well as our lost love ones and even pets. Every year over 1600 floating hand made lanterns are released along the beach. Each lantern is unique and offers messages or prayers for safe passage to the spiritual World. Growing up in Hawaii I have seen this Japanese lantern ceremony grow with each year, bringing people from all over the World coming together and sharing one of Hawaii's multi cultural traditions.


JCCH 2018 Photo Contest - Lum S

Finalist. Sunset Bon Dance. Photographer: Steven Lum. From the very first time I went to a bon dance in Hawaii many years ago, I was entranced.  There is a palpable spirit of camaraderie, gentleness, warmth, and celebration; it suffuses the atmosphere.  Obon is a beautiful tradition that reflects a deep cultural heritage. This photo was taken at the Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin in Nuuanu as the sun set.  I hope it captures the spirit of an obon festival.


JCCH 2018 Photo Contest - Dinman

Honorable Mention. WWII Aqueduct is now a History Duct. Photographer: Heather Cleveland Dinman. In July 2017, I went on a tour of the former site of the WWII Honouliuli Internment Camp on Oahu. In 1942, my great grandfather, Joichi Tahara, was taken from his family on the Big Island because of his Japanese ancestry and died at Honouliuli at the age of 55. I took this photo of the landmark aqueduct that transported water to the camp site. Let your mind follow the duct all the way back to 1944 to feel the sacrifices made by the Japanese in Hawaii during wartime. Let’s celebrate our brave ancestors that paved the path for the U.S. to allow Japanese immigrants to become American citizens, be respected, live free, and prosper. Let’s learn from history and never repeat the same devastating mistakes.


JCCH 2018 Photo Contest - Ishimaru

Honorable Mention. Shrine of Paradise. Photographer: Joshua Ishimaru. 2018 we celebrate the 150 years of Japanese in Hawaii since the “first year men” arrival in 1868. The “first year men” or the Gannenmono were the first Japanese immigrants that came to Hawaii. Many of these Japanese citizens were attracted to the $4-a-month wage as well as the free travel to a “tropical island”. However, it was a little different than what they expected it to be. Though the islands were very indeed tropical the plantation conditions were rough with long workdays, hard labor, and lives were very strict. Although with this said together the Japanese immigrants tried to make everything like how it was back home by continuing their culture and legacy down the line of generations to come. Being Japanese myself I think I can relate to the term “Okage Sama De” which translates to I am what I am because of you. If it weren’t for these early men and women I don’t know if my family would have immigrated to the US. With this said the image I decided to capture to reflect upon the 150 year history of Japanese in Hawaii was a picture of the Izumo Taishakyo. For my photo theme I decided to go with a film look for I wanted to give a retro-ish feel to this image making it seen like I was taken in the past. Hawaii Izumo Taisha was founded in 1906 , in 1907 a temporary shrine was built, and in 1922 the permanent shrine building Izumo Taishakyo that we know today was completed. Why I decided to take a photo of this location was because this place is special to me. Every new year, me and my family gather together at this shrine to pray for our well being and safety for the rest of the year. This place is special to me because its always the first place in the new year where me and my family go. To me its a sense of starting of the new year right with my family.


JCCH 2018 Photo Contest - Tong-Lee

Honorable Mention. The Girl, the Happi Coat, and the Temple. Photographer: Vivi Tong-Lee. In this photo, a seventeen year old girl is visiting her local Japanese temple wearing her Happi coat. She has been visiting this temple ever since she was a baby and continues this tradition every year at the start of a new year. This shows that her family has been keeping this tradition alive so that the new generations will be able to learn about their culture.