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Japanese high school student seeks host family

LIHU‘E — A local host family in the Puhi, Lihu‘e or Hanama‘ulu area is needed for 16-year-old high school junior, Rintaro Yamamoto, of Moriyama, Japan, who will be arriving with two other students, Nanami Nishikawa and Susuna Arahori, from March 25 to 29 through the Moriyama Yume
Project exchange student program.

“While on Kaua‘i, the students would like to experience island home life, visit scenic sites, eat local food, go shopping and meet new people,” said Art Umezu, the Japan liaison for the County of Kaua‘i. “The students who came to Kaua‘i in 2019 were overjoyed to stay with host families and learn about island lifestyle. It was a rewarding experience for both the students and host families.”

Yamamoto, who will be a junior starting in April 2023, the new school year in Japan, has limited English language ability. He plays the piano, listens to classical music and enjoys reading.

He is interested in Hawaiian culture and history, and wants to learn the difference between schools in Japan and Hawai‘i. He has no allergies except for shrimps. Pets are OK, and he prefers a nonsmoking host family.

“This is my first trip to the United States, so I know I have challenges to overcome so I become stronger and better person,” said Yamamoto through Umezu’s efforts. “I’m really looking forward to visiting Kaua‘i and stay with a host family.”

During March 25 to 29, the three students, all winners of an English language proficiency contest hosted by Moriyama City and Moriyama International Friendship Association, will be on Kaua‘i as part of the Moriyama Yume Project.

This is the first in-person visit by the Moriyama students since 2019, when three students visited Kaua‘i High School and learned about Kaua‘i’s history, culture and language while staying with host families.

The pandemic crisis forced the cancellation of the exchanges in 2020 and 2021, but resumed in 2022 with an online Zoom class for seven students from Moriyama, where Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami took time to talk with the students, as well as Moriyama Mayor Kazuhiro Miyamoto, who started the exchange program.

During their short visit, the students will spend a day with their respective host families before spending “A Day of Aloha at Kaua‘i Museum” and a day at Kaua‘i High School before departing on March 29.

The Moriyama Yume Project was established by Moriyama City, Japan, in 2019, to provide opportunities for high school students to experience home and school life, while learning about Hawaiian and island culture in an English-speaking environment while on Kaua‘i.

Moriyama City and the County of Kaua‘i have been sister cities since January 1975. Located in Shiga Prefecture, Moriyama City is a 30-minute train ride from Kyoto, Japan’s former capital and one of Japan’s most famous visitor attractions in the Kansai region.

For more information, or to volunteer as a host family, contact Umezu at, or call 808-652-3963.


Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 808-245-0453 or
Source: The Garden Island

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