The City of Ashikita, Japan is located in the Kumamoto Prefecture. It sits on the coast of Kyushu Island and, like Hawaii, is famous for their beautiful coastline and beaches.
A very special bond exists between Ashikita and the Big Island. This was most recently evidenced by the participation of the World Famous Ashikita Rifle Company in the Big Island’s 2018 Gannemono Celebration, 150th Anniversary of the first Immigrants arrival in Hawaii. The Rifle Company’s mission is to preserve the tradition and culture of the “Ashikita Ogo’orizutsu” of the Edo Period 240 years ago. While on the Big Island, they performed to huge crowds in both Hilo and Kailua-Kona. They did not perform on any other Island.
On July 4, 2020, record torrential rains triggered the overflow of the Kuma River which caused extensive flooding, mudslides and broken riverbanks. Located on the coastline along the Kuma River, Ashikita suffered unimaginable damage. Residents had to evacuate their homes and businesses. Both of which were either severely damaged or totally destroyed. Many families are still living in temporary shelters amid COVID-19 concerns. While work is being done on the city’s infrastructure, local citizens are in dire need of basic supplies such as food and household products.
Thus, the Hawaii Shima Kumamoto Doshi Kai, whose ancestors are from Kumamoto Prefecture and who also assisted with the Ashikita Rifle Company’s visit in 2018, conducted an Ashikita Relief Fund Drive.
Thanks to the generosity of the Big Island community, as well as your Hawaii Japanese Community Association of Hawaii, an estimated $15,000 has been collected to assist in their relief efforts. Special “Domo Arigato Gozaimasu” goes out to Art Taniguchi, Tommy Goya, Jane Miyasaki and the Hawaii Japanese Center for their unwavering support of this humanitarian effort.
Please keep Kumamoto in your hearts and prayers.
Dwayne T. Mukai, Interim President
Hawaii Shima Kumamoto Doshi Kai