By: Gregg Mueller, HJCC Past Chair
The term “Kuroko” (literal translation: black child//black clothes) is used in reference to the stagehands in traditional Japanese theatre, dressed all in black so as to appear invisible. They move about kabuki and noh stages much as a stealthy ninja at night. They may even hold props or move scenery, but are rarely apparent on stage.
Such is the case with Ron Ushijima, Past President of the Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce, Past Chamber Representative to the Board of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, a Sensei for the Chamber’s annual Gonin Otoko kabuki play, and now, an HJCC Kuroko Recognition Honoree.
When Ron joined the Chamber in the 1970s, his primary motivation was to establish some connections for golf. He thought it would provide a good opportunity to meet people, young and old, and to get acquainted with what they did in the business community. He learned that other members joined, too, for various reasons: golf, social, and business. All were ok, but he soon realized that real fulfillment came with getting involved, and that the greatest benefits of belonging to a business organization came from getting active. He learned about numerous industries and found differing opinions from different people. He found that Chamber members achieved more as they shared things they have in common, and that contributing added to the Chamber’s mission.
The Chamber further opened his eyes to contacts based locally and internationally. He was particularly gratified to see early Chamber events like business missions to Hiroshima and Fukui transpire and mature into the Honolulu Hiroshima Sister Chamber Relationship and the Honolulu Fukui Associate Chamber Relationship. As events of this nature help young people to grow, they foster belief in the organization. This is why Ron continues to do what he does for our Chamber. He hopes his continued passion for the Chamber will motivate our members to become active in their own fashion, getting involved to get fulfilled.
Ron’s appearances at Chamber Board meetings, as a Chamber representative at events too many to mention, as well as his participation in Chamber activities are never accompanied by bells and whistles announcing his arrival, but he is always there when we need him. His knowledge and participatory implementation of the inner workings and elements of Chamber business is seemingly irreplaceable and, in reflection, perhaps an homage to his military career. He has participated in one form or another on every Chamber committee and event. In fact, he provides expertise in so many areas that it’s hard to imagine the Chamber functioning without him. And yet, it’s as though he’s always working behind the scene. He is the embodiment of Kuroko.