United Kingdom Butoku Sai and Tree Planting Ceremony August
On August 8th, the soft sun light with gentle wind created the world of sublime in the majestic Bedgebury Pinetum National Park where one hundred eleven cherry trees were planted so gracefully by hundreds of members of the world. It was a special day to embrace the true beauty of nature and spirit of all around people with great sense of unity and oneness. In the long promenade, participants marched slowly behind the flags of Japan and United Kingdom whilst imagining the full blossoms of cherry trees which will be captivating the serene wonders in the spring.
The Earl of Kerry, mayor of Tunsbridge Wells, Hanshi Kuwahara and Park officials delivered the wonderful messages for this special occasion and then followed with official planting in honor of nations, people, community, and spirit above. Unveiling the stone monument placed in the center of the vista was absolutely symbolic to convey all the good wishes for today and the future. With tender warmth and carefree smiling of all those who were there joining together in the planting, they shared the special moment of simple joy and happiness in this world. Final message given at the park was to have hope and dreams for the future and to believe in the undying love for one another as the nature promises the continual blessings to all people.
Virginia Beach Sister Anniversary September
Governors School for the Performing Arts Japan Mission Trip November
From October 31-November 12, Governor's school for the arts and Voices of Virginia delegation led by Dr. Andrea Warren, executive director of GSA and Chip Gallagher, director of Theatre Arts, Jeff Warner, choreographer, Jeff Phelps, director of performing music, Amy and Alyssa Kidwell, videographer, Sandra Short, costume director of GSA along with 34 performing students performed in front of fully packed audience at Kitakyushu Performing Art Theatre November 13. Mayor Kitahashi and the citizens of Kitakyushu praised the GSA for their most outstanding premier show of " I believe in Music" which produced tremendous positive impact in the entire city.
The entire audience was so inspired by their beauty, power and grace of American music and dance which brought the auspicious celebration of their fiftieth anniversary of Kitakyushu city as a very special historic occasion. GSA members were most wonderful young citizen's diplomats who demonstrated the cordial decorum and respect to the Japanese culture. They also enjoyed their home stay experience by having such unforgettable bond with the host families. In their intensive itinerary, GSA traveled to Hiroshima, Miyazaki, and Tokyo to perform in addition to Kitakyushu and they were equally well-received and produced most outstanding performances with great mutual inspirations and the feeling of eternal friendship.
Summer Educational Exchange Program in Virginia July
JECC hosted 13 youth and 2 adults from Kitakyushu between July 31st and August 12th. This sister cities project was to give the Japanese students the best opportunities to discover the heart of America and greatness of the United States. We wish to thank everyone who gave their energies and resources to help these young students learn about America and share the friendship of lifetime.
Especially, IRPU (International Reception for Peace and Understanding) was a great success with 150 attendees. All host families and American youth from many sources shared significant time together through educational and cultural activities such as dance, creative performance, origami, calligraphy, etc.
We believe the hope for the future will be much brighter and more brilliant because of your enthusiastic involvement and support in them. So, from the bottom of our hearts, we wish to thank all of you for your devoted efforts and wonderful support in this cultural exchange program.
50th Anniversary Dedication Boulder at Redwing Park Miyazaki Garden March
The landmark of half-century of volunteerism and dedication was made with great humility and pride that embodied the traditions of reflective history and élan of excellence upheld as members endured and pressed on the journey of unending quest for building the lasting peace on earth.
Majestic presence of the Peace Monument boulder with powerful statement of bronze plaque was unveiled for the attending audience of three hundred or more people and supporters whom they had been impacted by various exchange programs offered by JECC for the last fifty years. Honorable resolution issued by the city council was presented to Hanshi Hamada by Mayor Sessoms of Virginia Beach and traditional tree planting ceremony with Japanese maple trees was conducted in honor of the designated organizations and people and the spirit above.
Governor’s School for the Arts chorus group gave the beautiful song for the prayer of the World Peace composed by Chip Gallagher, musical director of GSA and the attendants were deeply moved by the thematic harmony of its dedication. Standing together in this powerful ancient stone, with profound reflection of the great sacrifices made by so many people for human freedom, they were able to unite the feeling of great oneness in the close bonding and strength of the friendship as well as the future commitment for greater efforts to achieve world peace and harmony. This awesome dedication was an epitome of the ever-forged commitment and mission for the next fifty years and beyond. The promenade of majestic cherry trees which were planted over the last ten years were not blooming as of yet, but showed their brilliant radiance in the finest blossoming of members heart and soul for the special historic occasion.
MacArthur Memorial Dedication March
On the signature year of 70th anniversary of the ending of the pacific war, while being blessed with such pristine sunny sky and soft wind, MacArthur Peace Garden dedication ceremony was conducted with great honor and dignity at the MacArthur Memorial courtyard on March 21 in honor of Mrs. Jean MacArthur, wife of General Douglas MacArthur for recognizing her extensive humanistic efforts during the occupation period of Japan. Tree planting of five cherry trees was gracefully delivered and orchestrated by Hanshi Tesshin Hamada, where Mr. Daughtrey, mayor’s representative, Mrs. MacArthur’s niece, Mrs. Sepull and her families and Col. Davis, director of MacArthur Memorial Foundation together beautifully partook. The goodwill message with deep appreciation of the Japanese people to the General and Mrs. MacArthur for helping the reconstruction of Japan in the most tumultuous and trying times of her history was echoed throughout the emblematic ceremony. Over one hundred members witnessed the revered ceremony with great sense of historical understanding and ardent wishes for the future great relations between America and Japan as the best allies of Asian countries.
Annual Cherry Blossom Festival – Sakura Matsuri March
Japan Education Culture Center in conjunction with the Va Beach Sister City Miyazaki Committee and the VA Beach Parks and Recreation, the Sakura Matsuri, Cherry Blossom Festival is held annually at Redwing Park. The Beautiful promenade of Sakura Trees and the Japanese Garden makes a wonderful day surrounded by nature. The festival gives the local citizens an opportunity to appreciate Japanese Culture in the midst of the serene nature. The fleeting blossoms empower us all to make each day special and unique.
Summer Educational Exchange Program in Japan July
Japan Education Culture Center planned and executed the youth summer educational and cultural exchange program between June 29 and July 9th in 2015. The delegation was formed with 11 Japanese language students in public schools in Hampton Roads and 2 chaperones. They visited our sister city Kitakyushu, and also Miyazaki (Virginia Beach’s sister city), Hiroshima, Kyoto and Tokyo during the Japan tour.
Visiting middle and high schools was unique learning opportunity to experience the Japanese traditional culture such as calligraphy, authentic tea ceremony, and the Star Festival. Staying with Host Families was most memorable and will be cherished for a lifetime.
Reflecting the past historical facts and having chance to witness the artifacts in the Peace Museum afforded the learning opportunity to realize the importance of people to people relations of the world. Providing the students with their critical thinking how best they could contribute to the world peace was very invaluable. Their brief trip to Miyajima Shrine, world heritage site was also very meaningful as they enjoyed the ancient beauty and tranquility in the Seto inland sea.
The visit of Kyoto and Tokyo was another dimension of this study-tour to get to know about real Japan. The balanced harmony of ancient capital and contemporary modern cities with various architectural designs fascinated the participants while they were impressed by the superbly efficient mass transit system of the Bullet train.
It was a very short and intensely coordinated trip but the memories were life-long, life-changing experience for all participants. What they learnt in their trip will carry them to build their educational future as they opened their gate toward greater brilliance. We wish to express our deep thanks to all people both in Japan and US who helped this international youth exchange program achieve great success and most memorable for all our students.
We appreciate great support of NSCA, SCAVB, and local corporations and would like to maintain our active, positive, and warm hearted grass roots exchanges between our sister cities.
ODU Dedication September
Dedication of Japanese garden in ODU campus brought so many people of the past and present to embrace the joy of seeing the soul of our spirit in the beautiful and serene garden. In the future, this garden will become a small forest to give a true touch of Japan’s spiritual simplicity and beauty for years to come.
World Butoku Sai Japan April
In the Fifth WBS, another milestone was reached with many unforgettable memories of outstanding accomplishments as well as achievements. To realize the visions and missions of historical time, it required the painstaking effort and dedication in preparations to delivery. This history making epoch of WBS was an outcome of more than three years of preparation and hard work, countless hours of laborious efforts as well as great support and enthusiastic commitment of all participants across the globe. Great appreciations and admirations go to those unsung heroes who tirelessly served for the cause of common purpose. Taisho Butokuden, Seiryuden held on April 25 was conducted with high respect and solemn sense of dignity in presence of national treasure of Blue Cetaka.
Miyazaki Sister City Anniversary Event
25th sister city anniversary between Miyazaki City and Virginia Beach was celebrated to signify the quarter century relation of historic accomplishments.
Youth delegations led by Tatsuya Ishida, delegation leader, president of Miyazaki Bunka Honpo visited Virginia Beach and enjoyed the SECEP program, summer educational cultural exchange program from July 23-July 31. They experienced the home-stays, cultural study tours and meeting the mayor. They also engaged in the special tree planting ceremony staged in the Red Wing Park.
France Butoku Sai and Dedication of Sakura Park and Peace Monument in Clermont-Ferrand, France
GSA Mission Trip to Miyazaki, Kitakyushu, Hiroshima, Toyonaka
GSA musical and orchestral delegations of 65 members visited Japan offering the best of Hollywood music and brought the inspiring impact to the communities of Japanese cities where they visited in two weeks journey. In Miyazaki, they performed in the municipal hall and in Kitakyushu they performed in the Performing Art Theatre where thousands of citizens enjoyed the superior concerts. They also had dedicated a song of prayer in Hiroshima Peace Park, while they engaged in dynamic school exchange programs in Miyazaki, Kitakyushu, Hiroshima and Toyonaka city. They were afforded with home stay experiences to enjoy the people to people direct exchanges.
They also represented their own municipal government where they resided in five tidewater cities of Virginia.