Japanese firm says ‘thanks’ by donating school renovations
Stars and Stripes October 11, 2005
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — A Japanese construction firm celebrated its 39th anniversary by saying “San Kyu very much” to the Nile C. Kinnick High School last week.
Swan Shokai, a Yokosuka-based building and carpentry company, spent more than $9,000 remodeling the high school’s exercise room in gratitude for past military contracts. Company and school officials opened the room last week — complete with mirrored walls, newly laid floors and glass doors tough enough to withstand errant basketballs from the adjacent gym.
“Thirty-nine is a good number for us because it is pronounced in Japanese ‘San Kyu,’ which is close to the English words ‘Thank you,’” said Kazuhi Nakamura, the company’s president.
“The military has been very nice to us for the past 40 years and it is only natural for us to express our gratitude for their support.”
About half of Swan Shokai’s total sales come from military contracts, Nakamura said.
The company donated the renovations and Yokosuka’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation contributed the workout equipment, said Tari Wright, Kinnick High School principal.
“We were thrilled,” Wright said. “Now that there’s a treadmill in there, no one has any excuses to not exercise anymore.”
Currently, teachers and mid-season athletes are the only ones using the exercise room but Wright plans to increase access, she said.
“Kids could start conditioning before their sport season starts. We might also make the room available during lunch,” Wright said. “But an adult always has to be in there.”
Members of the high school’s tennis team started test-driving the exercise equipment as soon as they could.
“It’s not crowded and it’s so close,” said tennis player Chris Miller, who said he used to think of the room as just a place to store his tennis racquet.
That a Japanese contractor donated the renovations is “really cool,” said student Airamy Rivera. “That was really generous.”
Swan Shokai’s inspiration to give came from a U.S. Professional Golf Association tournament, Nakamura said. The winner always offers donations out of the award, he said.
Given the newly renovated room’s potential to help young athletes develop, Nakamura indicated he’ll be watching for Yokosuka students on television.
“I will be very honored if some students who are trained in this room become world-class athletes someday, like Tiger Woods,” he said.
Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this report.