These Hawai‘i Drivers Use Their License Plates to Share Local Japanese Culture

You can celebrate Bunka no Hi, a Japanese holiday, on Nov. 13 at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i.
Kids in kimono and zori
Photos: Courtesy of Aleeka Kay Edwards; Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i


Celebration of the Japanese holiday Bunka no Hi takes place on Nov. 13 at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i. The free public festival is titled “Aki Matsuri: Celebrating Children and Culture.”


“It will be a fun-filled day where all of Hawai‘i’s families can learn and take part in many Japanese traditions,” says Derrick Iwata, the Center’s education and cultural specialist. “Aki Matsuri brings together the entire community while honoring Hawai‘i’s children and traditions brought by Japanese immigrants to Hawai‘i.”


Families can dress their children in kimono and zori, and capture the day with a professional photographer for a fee. Festivalgoers can also enjoy a variety of food, arts and crafts. 


Of course you can find love for Japanese culture all over Honolulu. As Bunka no Hi approaches, we asked three drivers about the link between their cars’ vanity plates and Japanese culture in Hawai‘i.


Plated Gold



License plate milkie

“I named my car ‘Milkie’ because my car is white and there is a famous candy in Japan called Fujiya Milky Candy. It tastes like sweet, condensed milk. I was born and raised in Tokyo but I’ve lived in Hawai‘i for 15 years. I love to find Milky candy in Japanese stores here.”–Junko Baessler


License plate 24 moto

“In Japanese, two is pronounced ‘ni’ and four is pronounced ‘shi,’ and Nishimoto is my last name. I went to an international school in Japan and married my high school sweetheart. We moved to Seattle and then here, where we’ve lived for 21 years. My wife still has ties to Japan, where she is involved in her family business. Also, 24 is the jersey number for Spencer Haywood, Ken Griffey Jr. and Marshawn Lynch … all Seattle sports icons!”–Clayton Nishimoto



License plate evoryu

“I named my car ‘Evoryu’ because that’s how Japanese would pronounce part of the word ‘evolution,’ and it’s a word play on the character Evil Ryu in the Street Fighter video games.”–Jantzen Caracol