The Nichi Bei Foundation is an educational and charitable nonprofit organization dedicated to keeping the Japanese American community connected, informed and empowered — primarily through a community newspaper (Nichi Bei Weekly) and Website (www.nichibei.org), as well as educational programming.
“The work done by the (Nichi Bei) Foundation, not only through its stalwart newspaper, but also through the enlightened and dedicated sponsorship of a dizzying array of activities, renders it arguably the extant Nikkei institution that makes the single greatest contribution to the maintenance and enrichment of the history, society, and culture of the Japanese American community.”
-Art Hansen, director emeritus of the California State University, Fullerton Japanese American Oral History Project and former senior historian, Japanese American National Museum
An Innovative Nonprofit Organization
The Nichi Bei Foundation is an innovative nonprofit educational organization, rising out of the ashes of a community-serving media legacy dating back to 1899 to launch the first nonprofit ethnic community newspaper of its kind in the country. It strives to be the glue that holds the community together, helping to preserve Japanese culture while shedding light on community issues and documenting the community’s history for generations to come.
Through its nonprofit publication, the Nichi Bei Weekly, the Nichi Bei Foundation has helped to launch such innovative publications such as:
- Japanese Culture and Cherry Blossom Festivals Guide. The only annual guide to Japanese culture in the country, this special publication highlights Japanese cultural centers and springtime festivals throughout the country. In an effort to preserve Japanese culture, special features on cultural arts as well as extensive class listings are included.
- Obon and Summer Festivals Guide. The only annual guide to Japanese summer festivals throughout the country.
- Japanese American Community Resource Guide. Featuring maps and historic walking tours of the last three remaining Japantowns, a directory of community-based nonprofit organizations in California, a Japanese Language School Directory, historical destinations, a guide to community centers and senior centers, and cultural arts class listings.
- San Francisco Japantown Map and Directory. The most comprehensive map and bilingual directory of Japantown.
The Nichi Bei Foundation has evolved to create groundbreaking educational programs that shed light on the Japanese American experience such as:
Films of Remembrance, a day-long showcase of films presented by the Nichi Bei Foundation, sheds light on the forced removal and incarceration of the Japanese American community into American concentration camps during World War II. Initiated in 2012, Films of Remembrance has expanded to include events in Sacramento in collaboration with the Sacramento Asian Pacific Film Festival in 2017 and New York City in 2019. In 2020, Films of Remembrance expanded to a two-day event in both San Francisco and San Jose Japantowns.? www.nichibei.org/films-of-remembrance
Nikkei Angel Island Pilgrimage. The Nichi Bei Foundation led more than 1,700 people on the Nikkei Angel Island Pilgrimage, reconnecting the community to our forgotten legacy at the former Immigration Station, where up to 85,000 persons of Japanese descent were detained between 1910 and 1940. In addition to reconnecting participants to their family legacies with the help of partners like the California Genealogical Society, the Nikkei Angel Island Pilgrimage, held in partnership with the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation and the National Japanese American Historical Society, honored those who rediscovered the forgotten Immigration Station barracks in the 1970s, as well as those who took up the preservation efforts shortly thereafter.? www.nichibei.org/angel-island-pilgrimage
Wakamatsu Pilgrimage. The Nichi Bei Foundation has led two four-bus pilgrimages from throughout Northern California to the site of the former Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Farm Colony, the first large settlement of Japanese in America. Launching buses from San Francisco and San Jose Japantowns, Emeryville and Sacramento, Japanese Americans descended upon the historic site, which includes the grave site of Okei Ito, the first Japanese woman to die in America. Alternating with the Nikkei Angel Island Pilgrimage, the Wakamatsu Pilgrimage in 2019 featured a descendant of Wakamatsu colonist Kuninosuke Masumizu. The event was held in partnership with the American River Conservancy and the California Genealogical Society, whose volunteers helped to conduct family history consultations with pilgrims.? www.nichibei.org/wakamatsu-pilgrimage
Atomic Bomb Commemoration
Commemorate the atomic bombings of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during WWII, the first nuclear destruction of a civilian population in the world, and hear the urgent message for peace by the hibakusha, or atomic bomb survivors. Presented by the Nichi Bei Foundation and Friends of Hibakusha in collaboration with the Japanese American Religious Federation of San Francisco. www.nichibei.org/virtual-remembrance
The Northern California Soy and Tofu Festival, with an aim to educate the public on the benefits of soy and tofu, is our signature fundraiser. The festival showcases soy and tofu vendors, cooking demonstrations, cooking workshops, Asian American entertainment, a Tofu Dessert Competition and family-fun activities. It also serves as a vehicle for community-building and leadership development. www.soyandtofufest.org
An inspiring historical legacy…
In 1899 legendary newspaperman Kyutaro Abiko, known to historians as the most influential Japanese immigrant to America, established the Nichi Bei Shimbun, which would become the most influential Japanese American newspaper in the country prior to World War II. Abiko, who also founded three Japanese American farming colonies in California’s Central Valley, encouraged Japanese immigrants to settle in their adoptive country and to rebuild their lives in America.
After the war, some former staff of the Nichi Bei Shimbun came back to establish the Nichi Bei Times with the goal of getting the community reconnected after their devastating incarceration in wartime concentration camps. Led by Shichinosuke Asano, a prot’g? of Takashi ‘Kei’ Hara, the first commoner prime minister of Japan, the first issue of the Nichi Bei Times rolled off the presses on May 18, 1946. The early pages were used by Asano to raise awareness of and funds for postwar relief efforts in Japan, and the newspaper would help in obtaining redress for the community for their wartime incarceration.
An inspired rebirth…
As the Nichi Bei Times board of directors decided to close the newspaper after 63 years in September 2009, a group of Nichi Bei Times staff and contributing writers, media professionals and community leaders, encouraged and supported by the Japanese American community, set out to rebuild in the spirit of the Issei, brick by brick. They established the Nichi Bei Foundation, an educational and charitable nonprofit organization, as a means to support community organizations, shed light on community issues and document the community’s history.
Just one week after the last edition of the Nichi Bei Times rolled off the presses, the very first edition of the Nichi Bei Weekly was published as the first ethnic nonprofit newspaper of its kind in the country.
Born in one of the worst economic climates in decades, with virtually no seed money, the pioneering rebirth of the Nichi Bei Foundation and the Nichi Bei Weekly has become one of the most inspired community movements in recent memory.
Inspired by a community-serving historical legacy, the Nichi Bei Foundation and the Nichi Bei Weekly have a simple yet profound mission: to keep the community connected, informed and empowered.
- Kenji G. Taguma, President
- Nancy Ukai, Board Chair
- Laurie Shigekuni, ESQ, Vice Chair
- Courtney Iwanaga, Secretary
- Graig Inaba
- Koji Lau-Ozawa
- Yuki Nishimura
- Kiyomi Takeda
- Wendi Yamashita, Ph.D.
- Wesley Ueunten, Ph.D.
Read Board of Directors Bios here.
Nichi Bei Foundation Advisory Council:
- Sandy Close, Founder and Executive Editor, New America Media
- Jon Funabiki, Founder, Renaissance Journalism
- Art Hansen, Director Emeritus, Japanese American Oral History Project, California State University, Fullerton
- Carole Hayashino, President and Executive Director, Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai’i
- Cathy Inamasu, Executive Director, Nihonmachi Little Friends
- Jan Masaoka, Director, Blue Avocado
- Dale Minami, Community Activist and Attorney
- Andy Noguchi, Civil Rights Co-Chair, Florin JACL
- Jon Osaki, Executive Director, Japanese Community Youth Council
- Paul Osaki, Executive Director, Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California
- Don Tamaki, Chair, San Francisco Japantown Foundation
- Twila Tomita, Board Member, Florin JACL
- Rosalyn Tonai, Executive Director, National Japanese American Historical Society
- Bill Watanabe, Executive Director, Little Tokyo Service Center
- Akemi Kikumura Yano, former President and CEO, Japanese American National Museum
- Aiko Herzig Yoshinaga, Independent Researcher
- Fred Hoshiyama, Community Solidarity Activist
- Jimi Yamaichi, Curator and Historian, Japanese American Museum of San Jose
- Jeff Adachi, San Francisco Public Defender
- Lane Hirabayashi, Former Chair, UCLA Asian American Studies Program