MHS Japanese Students Place in Statewide Art Competition

Sophomore Miya Nishihara's piece. It won third place for the Original group.

Photo Credit: Zukeran Sensei

Sophomore Miya Nishihara's piece. It won third place for the Original group.

Kosmo Wojack, Reporter

     The Hawai‘i Association of Teachers of Japanese Nengajo Contest (HATJ) is a statewide art competition open to students of all grade levels, including those enrolled in university. Its purpose is to provide students an opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of the language and culture of Japan through art. 

     “It’s a nice mix of incorporating both language and then also culture and then also, you know, that sort of creativity artistic aspect,” said MHS Japanese teacher and HATJ member Zukeran Sensei.

     There were four main categories awards were given for: Artistic, Comical, Hawai‘i, and Original. The judges selected the top three winners for each category, who each received certificates and prizes from the HATJ. This year, Japanese professional manga artist Kazuo Maekawa took part in judging the cards, creating a new category called the Kazuo Maekawa award. Of the three pieces were selected, one was won by Mililani’s own freshman, June Kaneshige. Awards for each of the other four categories were won by MHS students. Junior Richelle Suzuki placed second in the Hawai‘i category, Sophomore Ciara McNally took third in the Comical section of the contest, and sophomore Miya Nishihara won third place for the Original group. Sophomores Ashlynn Carney and Kaianna Kaneshiro won second and third in the Artistic category respectively.

     For Japanese teachers, the annual contest is an opportunity to lay off the grammar and vocabulary students drill everyday, instead supplementing their understanding of the language through rich Japanese culture.

     “New Year’s is sort of the most important holiday for Japanese (people) and so it gives me a segway to talk about the end of the year as well as New Year’s traditions and culture,” said Zukeran. “I think inherently any language is influenced a lot by culture and, and so it’s important that we get a chance to dive into some of the cultural aspects and give sort of students sort of background information on perhaps why Japanese people do and say things.”

     All artists are strongly encouraged to participate in next year’s Nengajo Contest, 2021 Year of the Ox. As the contest nears, more information will be posted on their website https://hatj.weebly.com/nengajo-contests