Community News

Kelly Eshima crowned NorCal sakura matsuri queen amid unprecedented year

While the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the event last year, San Francisco’s 54th annual Cherry Blossom Festival held an online program and crowned its 2021 queen April 10. Akiko Jacqueline Bates, Ashlyn Sumiko Hom and Kelly Noelani Eshima competed in this year’s program emceed by Jana Katsuyama, KTVU Fox 2 reporter. The three women, along with […]

TAIKOPEACE: A movement for connection and community

Last year, San Jose Taiko’s artistic director emeritus and long-time community activist PJ Hirabayashi launched the Website for a movement she calls TaikoPeace. According to Hirabayashi, TaikoPeace is a movement of Japanese traditional drumming for social change and empowerment. Over the past couple of years, Hirabayashi has spread the movement through creating shared values, guided […]

A place to ‘share and embrace the Nikkei experience and culture’

GARDENA, Calif. — The Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute, which hosts major events like the South Bay Day of Remembrance and the GVJCI Matsuri, is an institution that “holds the legacy of our pioneering Issei and Nisei, and what they sacrificed and worked so hard to build in hopes to preserve and promote the Japanese […]

CONTINUING TRADITIONS: The evolution of koto artist Shirley Kazuyo Muramoto

Shirley Kazuyo Muramoto is literally in the middle of three generations of a family of koto teachers. Rising through the ranks over the years, she was awarded her Dai Shihan master’s degree from the Chikushi Kai Koto School in Fukuoka, Japan in 2000, and was inducted into the Hokka Nichibei Kai Bunka (Japanese Culture) Hall […]

EXTENDING A LIFELINE: Japanese American Association of NY connects and serves community

Spotting the first daffodil leaves poking out of the ground this year brings an extra sense of hope to New York City, after an extremely trying 12 months. It is a promise that their playful yellow blooms will soon grace neighborhood parks large and small throughout the city, offering a reminder that spring always follows […]

Around the Tea Room: Tools of the trade

The following are some of the basic items we use in tea ceremony. There are many more items, and they can vary considerably by the tradition one practices, Omotesenke, Urasenke, Mushanokojisenke, etc. While I practice Omotesenke tea, I have also included a few examples from other schools. In most of the photos you can see […]

A gathering place for the Nikkei community in Canada

The Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre’s origins date back to the Japanese Canadian redress movement. Originally named the National Nikkei Heritage Centre, it was created to be “a place where the community could … gather, be open for all and for greater society to engage with Japanese Canadians to understand and learn more about […]

Kimiko Side, 98, is Colorado’s queen of Japanese crafts

DENVER — Kimiko Side is a teacher and artist who’s leaving a huge cultural legacy for anyone in Denver who loves Japanese crafts. When she turned a spry 98-years-young last year, she was still driving herself to Pacific Mercantile, the Japanese supermarket in downtown Denver’s Sakura Square. For decades until the COVID-19 pandemic, she also […]

Coronavirus compounds caregiving challenges

Caring for an elderly loved one is often stressful for children or partners under normal circumstances, but the pandemic has compounded Bay Area caregivers’ stress as they have had to shelter-in-place for a year. While people have had to put both their vacations and other aspects of their daily lives on hold, older family members’ […]

NorCal Cherry Blossom Festival Program announces 2021 candidates

The Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival Queen Program announced its 2021 candidates — Akiko Jacqueline Bates, Ashlyn Sumiko Hom and Kelly Noelani Eshima. Akiko Jacqueline Bates Akiko Jacqueline Bates, 24, is from Honolulu. Her hobbies include singing, fashion and running. Bates is an assistant account manager at Hatch, a branding company. Bates holds a bachelor’s degree […]

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