"Living Treasures of Hawaii 2019" with sagarifuji/wisteria logos

The following individuals have been chosen as the 2019 Living Treasures of Hawaii:

John M. Hara, FAIA

John Hara

Premiere architect and pioneer of environmental design

John Hara interconnects structural harmony and pragmatic creativity through architectural concepts. For more than four decades, he has been promoting and redefining Hawaiian architecture by balancing traditional motifs with contemporary designs. He is a consummate professional and  perennial mentor of art and thought.

Birthplace: Honolulu, Hawai‘i

Achievements & Accolades
  • Founder of the John Hara Associates architectural firm.
  • Chairperson of the Hawai‘i State Foundation of Culture and the Arts.
  • Former Vice Chairperson of the Hawai‘i Public Broadcasting Authority.
  • Former Board Member of the Hawai‘i Youth Symphony Association and the Hawai‘i Opera Theater.
  • Member of the Japanese- Hawai‘i Economic Council and the Japan Cultural Center Hawai‘i Advisory Board.
  • Designer of the Case Middle School on the Punahou School campus, comprised of nine separate buildings on four acres of land which was the first major certified “green” project in Hawai‘i and attained LEED Gold certification.
  • Active participant on the State Advisory Committee to preserve the Honouliuli Internment Camp.
  • Involved in a multitude of notable projects throughout the state including First Hawaiian Bank, the Honolulu Museum of Art, the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, the University of Hawai‘i at West O‘ahu, the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, Punahou School, Kamehameha Schools, the Mid-Pacific Institute, and the Maui Arts & Cultural Center.
  • Keynote Speaker at the Honolulu American Institute of Architects.
  • Educator of architectural design and engages with students on critical matters such as sustainable environments, regionalism, and the ethics of the profession.
  • Participant in student forums at the University of Hawai‘i School of Architecture.
  • Served as juror for the AIA Design Award and the Historic Hawai‘i Foundation Historic Preservation Honor Awards.
  • Reoccurring contributor of AIA chapter committees.

John Hara’s accolades include the 2017 American Institute of Architects Hawai‘i State Council & Hawai‘i Architectural Foundation Medal of Honor . . . the 2015 American Institute of Architects Northwest and Pacific Region Medal of Honor for Lifetime Achievement. . . the 2014 NAIOP Kukulu Hale Architect of the Year Award . . . the 2006 Hawai‘i  State Foundation on Culture and the Arts Governor’s Award for Distinguished Achievement in Culture, Arts, and Humanities . . . the 1996 Fellow of the AIA Design category . . . and numerous Excellence in Architecture awards.

Earl Kawaʻa

Earl Kawaʻa

Social conciliator and perpetuator of Hawaiian culture

Earl Kawa‘a extends his cultural stewardship through focusing on shared experiences. He is an advocate for solving social issues by garnering truth and compassion. A deep commitment to helping others is a driving force in his quest to build relationships and strengthen families.

Birthplace: Halawa Valley, Moloka‘i, Hawai‘i

Achievements & Accolades
  • One of twenty-eight living manaleo – Hawaiians whose native or first language was the original Hawaiian language.
  • Cultural specialist at Kamehameha Schools where his strengths lie in projects and programs with a Hawaiian perspective such as sustainability, water rights, Hawaiian methodology in education, spirituality, and medicinal plants.
  • Conducts and teaches ho‘oponopono classes and is a strong advocate for solving community and social issues through this Hawaiian approach that focuses on truth and consensus building. He is often sought by courts as well as policy leaders for his skill and expertise.
  • Volunteer for various organizations that focus on building canoes; teaching the carving of poi boards and stones; planting kalo, pounding poi, teaching about and building hales, strengthening families through parental involvement projects, and conducting ho‘oponopono classes.
  • Cultural advisor for the Hawaii Executive Conference that involved more than 100 top level executives of Hawai‘i with keynote speakers and participants from Japan and the mainland United States. His advice and counsel were critical to instilling the right cultural tone for the conference as well as providing continuity for future planning and actions.
  • Key cultural facilitator to develop a 100-year vision for Hawai‘i that involved 46 young leaders from corporate downtown, Kamehameha Schools staff, and Hawaiian community leaders. The 100-year vision was featured in Hawai‘i Business Magazine. Members of the organization visited Daizen, Japan in the Tottori prefecture for economic and cultural discussions. In exchange and reciprocity, members of the Daisen delegation visited Hawai‘i to learn about Hawaiian culture.
  • Delivers Hawaiian sermons and teaches Hawaiian Language Sunday School at Kawaiha‘o Church.
  • Former VISTA volunteer in Arizona working with Native American tribes to perpetuate the Hawaiian culture in our communities, organizations, and families.
  • Began a quest to provide “a board and stone in every home” after experiencing an epiphany more than 10 years ago. While focusing on this mantra, he has trained more than 2,000 individuals through organizations such as Keiki O Ka Aina, Hui Malama O Ke Kai, and Punaluu Ahupua‘a Farms for KOKA. These classes are about more than just learning how to make a board and stone to pound poi. He teaches family members and relatives to learn about each other and to get along in a safe, social, and cultural environment.

Earl Kawa‘a’s accolades include the 2016 I Ulu I Ke Kumu Award.

Gertrude Yukie Tsutsumi

Gertrude Tsutsumi

Master teacher of Japanese classical dance

Gertrude Tsutsumi pursues cultural preservation and the continued perpetuation of Nihon Buyo – a traditional dance form dating back to the early 17th century that is inextricably linked to kabuki and noh. With over 50 years of study, practice, and teaching, she continues to uphold this art form to build camaraderie and develop shared experiences. She has dedicated her life to the learning and practicing of education and fine arts.

Birthplace: Honolulu, Hawai‘i

Achievements & Accolades
  • Founder and Director of the Kikunobu Dance Company where she teaches beginner through experienced classes on traditional Japanese dance forms. She always stresses not only the beauty of dance but also the importance of building self-discipline and self-confidence. Through knowledge gained from her professional career as an elementary school teacher, she firmly believes in developing a strong foundation upon which each student can gradually enhance performance skills.
  • Trained under the late Bando Mikayoshi starting at the age of eight years-old and continued learning until she graduated from the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa. During her youth, she received extra training in dance and music from visiting artists from Japan. One artist was a Kabuki actor named Nakamura Umetaro, a representative of Kansai Kabuki.
  • Earned her shihan (master of dance diploma) and received her professional name of Onoe Kikunobu, which allowed her to open her own school and bestow professional names onto others. Since opening the Kikunobu Dance Company, thirteen of her students have been recognized as master dancers.
  • Every three to four years, the Kikunobu Dance Company presents a formal performance onstage. For the summer of 2019, the Director of the University of Hawai‘i Manoa Outreach College has extended an invitation to present a Japanese dance concert on the Kennedy Theatre stage. This concert will be part of the 2019 Asia Pacific Dance Festival and will be performed in two parts. Part I will highlight the classical elements of Nihon Buyo through the influences of Kabuki, Noh, and present day influences in music and dance movements. Part II will be a narrative travelogue that uses music and dance to take the audience on a tour of some of the prefectures from north to south along the island chain of Japan.
  • Former lecturer in the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa Theatre and Dance Department. Upon her retirement, she passed on the lectureship to her senior master student Howard K. Asao who continues her legacy.
  • After she began teaching in the Department of Education, she applied for two professional leaves of study in Japan. The first one was to conduct research on Japan’s elementary school system and led to the fortuitous meeting of the late Onoe Kikunojo I. The second one was to enroll in college courses related to Japanese traditional performing arts at Waseda and Sophia Universities in Tokyo. During this time, she participated in the 17th anniversary concert of the Onoe School in Tokyo held at the Shinbashi Embujo.

Gertrude Tsutsumi’s accolades include the 2016 NEA Recognition Award from the United Japanese Society of Hawai‘i . . . the 2015 NEA National Heritage Fellowship for Japanese Classical Dancing . . . the 2004 Silversword Award for Cultural Excellence from the Pan-Pacific Festival . . . the 2002 Folk & Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Grant from the Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts . . . the 1994 Certificate of Appreciation Promoting Cultural Understanding Between Japan and Hawai‘i from the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa College of Continuing Education and Community Service . . . the 1993 Special Recognition Award for the Perpetuation of Japanese Culture through Dance from the Hawai‘i Kimono Foundation  . . . and the 1992 Recognition Award from the Institute of Culture & Communication, Center for Cultural and Technical Interchange Between East & West, National Education Institute, U.S. Congress, and incorporated by the State of Hawai‘i – East West Center.

James T. Yagi

James Yagi

Basketball mentor and integrity coach

James Yagi is a basketball coach who teaches respect and discipline both on and off the court. In the spirit of true sportsmanship, he always provides the fundamentals of practice, dedication, and commitment at the forefront of everything he aspires. He believes it is a coach’s duty to help all players develop regardless of their talent and he continues to leave a positive impact on countless individuals who come from all walks of life.

Birthplace: Hilo, Hawai‘i

Achievements & Accolades
  • Served as the first collegiate Japanese-American Head Coach at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo.
  • With over 250 wins during his career. His teams averaged 23 wins per season and he remains the winningest men’s basketball coach in University of Hawai‘i at Hilo history.
  • His early teams in the mid-1970s put the Vulcans on the national map with their championship success at the NAIA level.
  • Named NAIA District II Coach of the Year and led the Vulcan team to the NAIA National Basketball Tournament three times as Districts Champions in Kansas City, MO.
  • Has coached basketball for over sixty years in Hawai‘i, the mainland United States., Europe, Australia, and the far east.
  • Has participated for over forty years in the annual Vulcan Basketball camp, a.k.a. the Jimmy Yagi Summer Hoops Camp. This event has drawn in tens of thousands of participants from ages 8 to 18 that have not only learned basketball fundamentals but more importantly, the guiding force of life skills.
  • Developed youth basketball camps and clinics on the Big Island, Maui, O‘ahu, and Kauai that lasted for decades while teaching the game as well as life lessons to thousands of youngsters and coaches alike.
  • Established a scholarship program at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo honoring his parents and his wife’s parents.
  • Considered by many sportswriters as the Grandfather of Small College Basketball in Hawai‘i.

Jimmy Yagi’s accolades include the induction into the Hall of Fame at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo.

For more information on Living Treasures of Hawaii, please visit https://hongwanjihawaii.com/living-treasures.