Maui News

Deidre Tegarden, Christopher and Lynn Curtis to receive Nihon Bunka Awards

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The Japanese Cultural Society of Maui announced this year’s prestigious Nihon Bunka Award recipients: Deidre Tegarden, Christopher Curtis and Lynn Shikatani Curtis.

The awards are given 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. 

Deidre Tegarden

    As Executive Director of the Nisei Veterans Center, Deidre Tegarden has kept the spirit and legacy of “Go For Broke” alive through a dynamic and busy calendar of activities at the Center that promote Japanese culture – tea ceremony, bon dance workshops, anime movie screenings, leadership training, in addition to an archive of more than 200 special collections relating to Maui Nisei veterans. 

    She is a current Director At-Large for the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaiʻi, and was instrumental in the success of a significant number of programs such as the Gannenmono 150th anniversary celebrations.  She received a Certificate of Commendation by Japanese Consul General Koichi Ito for her contributions to the Japanese-American community and for the deepening of mutual understanding and friendship between Japan and other nations. As Council Leader for the US-Japan Council, she has also convened events for the Regional Women In Leadership program, which advances opportunities for women in the context of US-Japan relations.

    Tegarden served as Chief Protocol Officer for Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Gov. David Ige. As a volunteer to the Maui County Sister Cities Foundation, Deidre provided Japanese protocol workshops, and has served as translator for numerous Japanese dignitaries. Her involvement in various initiatives with Japan has resulted in student exchange programs, as well as US-Japan business and governmental collaboration.


    She also served as Chief of Staff to the Office of the Mayor, Director of the Office of Economic Development for the County of Maui, and as the Executive Director for Big Brothers Big Sisters Maui. She was a recipient of Pacific Business News’ “Forty Under 40” Award and a graduate of the Weinberg Fellows Program. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Japanese and Chinese Studies at the University of Maryland.

    Christopher Curtis

      Curtis Sensei and Lynn Curtis Sensei embody the spirit of Aikido, passed on through them from their teacher, the late Shinichi Suzuki Sensei, to all their students.

      Curtis Sensei is currently the Chief Instructor of the Hawaiʻi Ki Federation and formerly the Head Instructor of Maui Ki Aikido. He has trained fervently in the art of Aikido for over 48 years.

      He began his training in 1974 with his teachers Koichi Tohei Sensei in Japan and Shinichi Suzuki Sensei on Maui. Curtis Sensei served as Suzuki Sensei’s otomo, accompanying him to attend and teach seminars around the world.


      As Chief Instructor of HKF, Curtis Sensei teaches Aikido and Ki Principles throughout Hawaiʻi, the United States, and Europe. He continues to teach a weekly meditation class at Maui Ki Aikido and trains annually, receiving instruction from his current teacher Kaicho Shinichi Tohei in Japan.

      Curtis Sensei has also authored several books about his Aikido practice—Letting Go; Ki Aikido on Maui: A Training Manual; and Otomo: A Journey, a semi-autobiographical account of his many years of practice.

      Lynn Curtis

      Lynn Curtis Sensei is currently a Senior Instructor and Head of the Children’s Program at Maui Ki Aikido.

      She began training with Shinichi Suzuki Sensei on Maui in 1978. Lynn Curtis Sensei assisted Suzuki Sensei for many years, accompanying him to Japan on numerous occasions. Lynn Curtis Sensei continues to teach a weekly children’s class at Maui Ki Aikido and also continues her training with Kaicho Shinichi Tohei in Japan.


      Nihon Bunka awardees will be honored at JCSM’s Annual New Year celebration banquet Shinnen Enkai on Saturday, Jan. 28, at 5:30 p.m. at the Maui Beach Hotel. The event includes dinner and entertainment. Attendees may wear formal kimonos at this function.

      Sponsorship packages, tables of 10 and general admission tickets are $75, and can be purchased at Email [email protected] for inquiries.

      Now on its 54th year as a nonprofit, a new set of officers and directors will also be installed at the same evening to carry JCSM’s mission to perpetuate Japanese culture for future generations.

      The new officers and directors include the following:

      • Kit Zulueta Furukawa, President
      • Chris Sugidono, Vice President
      • Deron Furukawa, Secretary
      • Stacey Nikaido, Treasurer
      • Directors: Rep. Troy Hashimoto, Tiffany Iida, Brian Nagami, Elisa Suetake, Jennifer Sumida and Satoko Takahashi.

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