SAN JOSE — Yu-Ai Kai Japanese American Community Senior Service held its annual “Run for All Ages,” a one-, two-, and three-mile run/walk, in conjunction with its Health Fair and the annual Nikkei Matsuri on May 1 in Japantown.
Irene Nakamitsu said she was participating in the festivities to support the nonprofit, as well as to ensure her own health. “I wanted to support Yu-Ai Kai. It’s such a great organization and I’m here with my friends,” said Nakamitsu, who planned to go to the Health Fair after the Run.
“I’ll go to all of the stations and take all the tests like for cholesterol and blood pressure. This is so important. Last year because of the results, they sent me back to my doctor. I didn’t realize I had diabetes and high blood pressure and it was because of the Health Fair that I went straight to my doctor.”
The reasons for joining the Run vary according to the runners, with some determined to make a mad dash to the finish line. The top three runners in various age divisions, as well as other categories — such as largest family, best costume and oldest runner — are honored each year.
Other participants attended in hopes of connecting with the community. “I just moved here a couple of months ago and my taiko friends thought I should do this. I’ll be running and hope to do this under 25 minutes,” said Yuta Kato, a professional taiko drummer and new Japantown community neighbor.
“I wanted to get to know J-Town,” added Kato, 29, who recently relocated from Los Angeles. He finished the Run at sixth place in his age category, completing it in 23.13.8 minutes.
For other community members, participating in the Run served as an opportunity to reconnect. “We used to run in this event probably five years ago,” said Kelli Martines. “But since we’ve all begun having families, we now just do it for the social aspect.” Martines was accompanied by her 4-year-old daughter Leyla, as well as friends Denise and Craig Kanazawa, their 3-year-old twin boys Kaden and Jaden and their baby Landen.