Lynne Yoshiko Nakasone Sensei was among six Island residents recently honored as "Living Treasures of Hawaii" by the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii. Nakasone Sensei was recognized for perpetuating the art of Okinawan dance in Hawaii through her Yoshiko Nakasone Dance Academy and sharing the culture with the community.

The 2002 "class" of "Living Treasures" was introduced Feb. 8 at the Mission's 90th Legislative Assembly, which was held in Hilo this year. The "Living Treasures" program, which the Hongwanji originated in 1976, recognizes Hawaii residents for their contributions to society and humanity through scholarly, cultural and community pursuits. The program was inspired by Japan's Living National Treasures awards.

Also honored as 2002 "Living Treasures" were:

Alfred Bloom, University of Hawai'i professor emeritus of religion who was instrumental in the establishment of the Buddhist Study Center and for the formation of the Hawaii Association for International Buddhists.

Takeshi Fujita, an award-winning Kauai science teacher - now retired - who is actively involved in his community.

Takashi Nonaka, a Big Island teacher of Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido and one of only four people outside Japan to hold an eighth-degree black belt in the martial art form that emphasizes mind and body coordination.

Yoshihiko Sinoto, senior anthropologist at the Bishop Museum and one of the foremost experts on the origins of Pacific Island civilizations.

• The late Myron "Pinky" Thompson, president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, who was honored posthumously for his lifelong contributions to native Hawaiians and the larger community through social work and government service.

The past few months have been busy ones for Yomitan Club member Clayton Fujie. In October, he traveled to Washington, D.C., where Fujie - Hawaii's 2001 Elementary School Principal of the Year - and his counterparts from throughout the nation were honored by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Association of Elementary School Principals. In November, the veteran educator was appointed interim deputy superintendent of the state Department of Education, filling the vacancy created by the appointment of Patricia Hamamoto as interim superintendent - and subsequently as superintendent. In early January, the Board of Education approved Fujie's appointment as deputy superintendent.

Hamamoto cited Fujie's "solid reputation for promoting high standards and academic excellence." "He brings a personal touch to state administration, which is evident through his care and sensitivity for students and staff, and his appreciation of community involvement in education," she said.

Fujie, who earned his master's in education from the University of Hawai'i at Manoa, began his career in public education in 1969 as a history teacher and coach at Baldwin High. He later taught and coached at Kaiser High. Fujie held administrative posts at Koko Head, Lunalilo, Kuhio and Kahala elementary schools prior to becoming principal at Noelani School in 1986. Under his leadership, Noelani was named a National Blue Ribbon School for 2000-01. The school was also one of 10 schools nationwide featured for its exemplary Project-Based Learning Program by PBS.

The BOE also approved Hamamoto's appointment of Tom Yamashiro as assistant superintendent with the Office of Information and Technology Services. Yamashiro is a member of Itoman Club, which selected him its 2001 "Uchinanchu of the Year."
Yamashiro is former administrator of the Information and Communication Services Division of the Department of Accounting and General Services, which oversees computer and telecommunication services for all state agencies. He also served as deputy director of the Department of Budget and Finance from 1987 to 1992. Since 1998, Yamashiro has worked as an information technology consultant.

Hui Okinawa member Yasuo Kuwaye was honored with a testimonial dinner last August after having been presented the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold and Silver Rays by the government of Japan. The event, which was held at the Hawaii Naniloa Hotel, was organized by representatives of a number of Hilo community organizations who came together to honor Kuwaye and his wife Hanako.

Hawaii County Council Chair Jimmy Arakaki presented a congratulatory message from his fellow council members, while Hui Okinawa member and former Hawaii County mayor Herbert Matayoshi extended congratulations from Hui Okinawa. The banzai were led by Hui Okinawa co-founder Isamu Kaneshiro and Russell Kuwaye.

Yasuo Kuwaye was the sixth of nine children born to Matsu and Umito Kuwaye, immigrants from Okinawa who settled in Honokaa on the Big Island. After graduating from Honokaa High School in 1940, he worked with his brothers, operating a taxi service and gas station and running a bus service between Honokaa and Hilo. Kuwaye also trucked merchandise between Honokaa and Hilo - which led to the start of what is today Kuwaye Trucking, Inc., with a fleet of trucks, tractors, trailers, pickups and tankers.

Yasu Kuwaye is involved in a number of business and community organizations on the Big Island, among them the Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Hawaii, Hilo Contractors Association, Japanese Community Association of Hawaii and Hui Okinawa. He was instrumental in the establishment of a sister-island relationship with Oshima, Japan in 1962 and in the cultural relationship with Ikaho, Japan; the Higashi Hiroshima Chamber of Commerce and Hawai Cho, Japan.

The Kuwayes have two grown children, Frances Chow and Wayne Kuwaye, and three grandchildren.

The Goro Hokama Post Office Building was officially dedicated last Aug. 13 in Lanai
City. HUOA 2001 president Jimmy Iha and then-president-elect Gladys
attended the program, where they presented him a certificate from
HUOA. U.S. Congresswoman Patsy Mink introduced the legislation to name Lanai's
only post office after Hokama as a way to honor his long history of public service to
Lanai, Maui County and the state of Hawaii. The program was also attended by many
dignitaries, including Congresswoman Mink, U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka and Maui
County Mayor James "Kimo" Apana. (Photo courtesy of Dexter Teruya)