Maui News

Japanese Cultural Society of Maui awards student scholarships May 20

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(PC: The Japanese Cultural Society of Maui)

The Japanese Cultural Society of Maui is honoring three outstanding scholarship recipients this year.

The awardees will be recognized at the Maui Matsuri Kick-Off event called Children’s Day on May 20 at 10 a.m. The event will be held at the Queen Kaʻahumanu Center, located at 275 W. Kaʻahumanu Ave in Kahului.

The following scholars were selected for their record of involvement in promoting and perpetuating Japanese culture and language:

Kaitlin Kitagawa

Kaitlin will receive the Asa Ellison Memorial Scholarship worth $1500 for her outstanding academic record, community service and excellence in Japanese language. She is a senior at King Kekaulike High School and plans to attend Santa Clara University to pursue bioengineering with a minor in Japanese studies.


Kaitlin was crowned the 68th Queen of the Chrysanthemum Festival for her efforts to raise funds for the Maui Sons and Daughters of the Nisei Veterans. She won an all-expense-paid trip to Japan for her team winning the Japanese Wizards Statewide Academic Team Competition.

In her essay, Kaitlin shared that she is inspired to live by the Japanese value of “chugi,” or loyalty, “not only to my country, but to my culture, family, beliefs, and to myself,” she adds.

“An important way to perpetuate Japanese culture is to speak up. We all need to vocalize our experiences – both good and bad, and share issues that are valuable to our community.”

Jaimee Yokoyama

Yokoyama will receive a $1000 Japanese Cultural Society scholarship. She is a senior at King Kekaulike High School and plans to attend the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa to pursue computer science.


For more than 11 years, Jaimee has danced for Maui Minyo Kai and has actively participated in Obon festivals around the island. She is also a member of the Maui United Junior Youth Buddhist Association and has volunteered for various Hongwanji churches. 

By Yokoyama’s involvement in various community events, she said, “there are many people who are willing to learn about Japanese culture, but don’t know where to look or find resources.”

She believes part of the challenge is finding those who are willing to teach – which is why she remains committed to keeping traditions alive as she pursues higher education.

Taylie Teraoka

Teraoka will receive a $1000 Japanese Cultural Society scholarship. She is a senior at H.P. Baldwin High School and plans to attend the University of California Irvine and major in civil engineering and minor in environmental engineering.


In addition to strong involvement with her school’s student government, Teraoka is also a member of her school’s Japanese Club, among others. She has organized cultural events with exchange students from Okinawa, Japan who are attending the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College.

Her team in the Level B category also won a trip to Japan from competing in the Japan American Society of Hawaii’s Wizards Competition. Her team was selected to carry their winning mikoshi in Waikiki for the Honolulu Festival’s Mikoshi Design Contest, which featured elements depicting Hawaiʻi and Japan’s connected cultures.

Driven by a desire to study in Japan, Teraoka wishes to see more opportunities with Maui’s sister cities, a renewed effort to teach Japanese language and hopes to see the youth get more involved.

“Young people are the future and there is an absence of young people in preservation efforts,” Teraoka said. “I hope to become even more involved when I come back from college.”


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