Misako Kamata, who is president of Kinpachi Restaurant and the prime mover behind the Saipan Awaodori Team, which sends a Saipan delegation to the Awaodori Festival in Japan each year, was honored in a ceremony last Friday at the Hyatt Regency Saipan with the 2019 Japan Foreign Minister’s Commendation for promoting the Japanese culture.
Japan consul to Saipan Kazuhiko Ono said it is a great pleasure for him to present the commendation to Kamata.
“I think the biggest contribution to the local community is to promote mutual understanding between Japan and the CNMI,” Ono said, adding that Kamata not only established the Awaodori team, but also taught Japanese language and manners among the youth in the CNMI.
Kamata created the Saipan branch of the Tokyo Koen-Ji Tensui-Ren in 2007, and taught Awaodori and Japanese language and manners to over 200 youth on the island. She also organized an Awaodori team composed of young children that participates in the Liberation Day event held in July of every year, as well as many other cultural events.
Kamata has also actively given support after the East Japan earthquake and Kumamoto earthquake.
Kamata herself credits Iwanami Yukihiro of the Koen-Ji Awaodori Association in Tokyo for helping her organize the local Awaodori team.
“Without one key person, I would have never led these things today,” Kamata said. “Every year, he accepts our children in Tokyo. Also, they send their team to Saipan and, together with the children here, perform in the CNMI too. …Without him, I cannot be here today.”
Kamata also acknowledged everyone who have been a part of the Awaodori team’s progress since they began 13 years ago, and asked for continued support. “Everybody who has been a part of our progress and of our movement, please continue to watch us and guide us and help us. Let us continue the CNMI and Japan’s tight relationship for the children.”
Kamata was one of 175 individuals living outside of Japan to be awarded the Foreign Minister’s Commendation this year.
All in all, 206 individuals and 63 groups were given the commendation this year.