Janne Fujimoto-Watase - Board of Governor
Janne Fujimoto Watase was born in Hilo and raised in Kona by two civic-minded parents. Both her parents were passionate about supporting the Kona community and beyond.
Janne graduated from Konawaena High school in 1967 and in 1971 graduated from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon with a B.A. in Education. She was a classroom elementary teacher for 33 years and for 3 years trained as an administrator.
One of the highlights of her volunteerism was the Kona Coffee Story, a traveling exhibit, which was a joint effort by the Kona Japanese Civic Association and the Japanese American National Museum (JANM). The exhibit, which was awarded the Certificate of Commendation by the American Association for State and Local History, told the story of Kona coffee from 1828 to the Japanese pioneers who toiled in the fields to grow coffee.
For many years, Janne participated in the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, co-chairing the Miss Kona Coffee Pageant and the Little Miss Kona Coffee Pageant and serving as a Board Member, even to this day.
In 2005 she moved to California to join her future husband, Frank Watase, who owned and operated over 150 Winchell’s and Yum Yum Donut shops. She became his Executive Assistant.
Frank was an avid supporter of the Japanese American National Museum. Today JANM’s Watase Media Center is the home to many innovative media productions. Frank passed away in 2020 but Janne continues to volunteer at the museum. She strives to continue her parents’ and Frank’s legacy by giving back to the community.
Janne still goes to work, assisting with Supplier Ingredient files, which regulate quality and food safety. She also organizes the company events.
Recently, Janne has become involved with the development of the Japanese Cultural Center of Kona and she hopes to volunteer her energies to yet another good cause.