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Kokoro Yamazaki is on the pathway to success

By Staff | Jul 16, 2020

Kokoro Yamazaki earned her black belt in Shotokan karate in 2018.

LAHAINA – Rising Lahainaluna High School senior Kokoro Yamazaki represents an energetic and focused generation of West Side teenagers that signal an optimistic future for Maui and for the world at large. Indeed, despite the anxiety of the COVID-19 pandemic, this growing wave of high-achieving Lahaina teens brings a keen sense of positive comfort to the community.

The daughter of Lahaina Hongwanji Mission Rev. Ai and Megumi Hironaka, 16-year-old Yamazaki has quietly matured into a kindly and intelligent personality that naturally projects the tranquility of her Buddhist household upbringing. Along with younger siblings Hoken, Ayumu and Minori, Kokoro has reaped the benefits of her upbringing in the heart of Lahaina.

With a work ethic and respect for elders and authority instilled through her family culture, Yamazaki has thrived to create a pathway to success. Born on Oahu, she came to Maui after the second grade and matriculated through King Kamehameha III Elementary and Lahaina Intermediate School before moving on to Lahainaluna.

There she has flourished academically with a 4.0 grade point average in her college preparatory course of study. She has participated in the growing effort of HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America), Rotary Interact Club, Japanese Club, and as an integral performer with the band – playing the flute with the Concert Band and the bass drum with the Marching Band.

Outside of school, Kokoro has expanded her cultural horizon with the study of a traditional martial art -Shotokan Karate Do.

She began her journey with her brother and sisters at the Lahaina Dojo of the Japan Karate Shotokai in 2013. Continuing with diligent study with the program, Yamazaki earned her Shodan, or first degree black belt ranking, five years later.

She has also danced hula with the Napili Kai Foundation for ten years and served as the state secretary for the Maui Chapter of the Junior YBA (Young Buddhist Association) of Hawaii. She received a scholarship from the organization.

Last December, she represented Lahaina at the Nisei Veterans Chrysanthemum Ball as a first runner-up princess.

She had raised donations for Nisei Veterans of Foreign Wars for the honor and was recognized at a dinner ceremony at Maui Beach Hotel.

Upon graduation from Lahainaluna in 2021, Kokoro plans to attend the University of Hawaii at Manoa to study health care.

“I am so thankful to my parents for shaping me into a responsible person. They taught me to always fulfill my commitments,” she said.

“Thank you to all of my teachers and friends, and the tight-knit community of Lahaina, for making me the person I am today and pushing me to be the best of my abilities.”