Community News

Sudoku maker Maki Kaji, who saw life’s joy in puzzles, diesx-

TOKYO — Maki Kaji, the creator of the popular numbers puzzle Sudoku whose life’s work was spreading the joy of puzzles, has died, his Japanese company said Aug. 17. He was 69 and had bile duct cancer. Known as the “Godfather of Sudoku,” Kaji created the puzzle to be easy for children and others who […]

Diana Akiyama, the 1st Asian American female bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon

Growing up in Hood River, Ore., Diana Akiyama returned home late last year after becoming the first Asian American woman bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon. Originally born on the coast, Akiyama’s family moved inland to a Japanese American community when she was a child. She rode her bike in the valley, spent summers […]

Obon’s history and a modern celebration

The Rev. Matt Hamasaki defines Obon as “a time when we honor those who have gone before us.” In sharing the history of Obon, the Buddhist Church of Sacramento Betsuin reverend told a story Buddhists learn about the Urabon sutra, where Buddha disciple Mokuren develops supernatural powers and sees his deceased mother suffering in the […]

S.F. Japanese American churches welcome new faces during the pandemic

Each year, clergy members shift across the United States. San Francisco’s Japantown is no different as retirements, promotions and transfers have brought change among its religious leaders serving the Japanese American community. Among the members of the Japanese American Religious Federation, the biggest change was Rev. Debra Low-Skinner stepping down as president of the interfaith […]

Sokoji to hold virtual toro nagashi festival

In 2018, Soto Mission of San Francisco Sokoji began holding services for temple members’ ancestors during the Obon season. In 2019, in an effort to preserve Japanese culture and tradition, the Buddhist temple began holding their own toro nagashi (flowing lantern) festival, the Rev. Koshi Kurotaki said in an e-mail interview with the Nichi Bei […]

Fighting to stay in place: Japanese Art & Culture Center staves off eviction

The Japanese Arts & Culture Center in San Jose, Calif. is lauded by students and instructors alike for its Zen approach to teaching Japanese culture in the Silicon Valley. But the coronavirus pandemic has left the organization, which opened in 2010 in the Strawberry Park Shopping Center behind the Mitsuwa Marketplace, in dire straits. Like […]

Watsonville ‘institution’ Yamashita Market announces plans to close

In 2019, business at the Pajaro Valley Fish Market in Watsonville, Calif. was slow, and Goro Yamashita was thinking of closing. Yamashita, who runs the market commonly known as the Yamashita Market, tentatively decided to close the decades-old family business sometime in the spring of 2020. Business, however, picked up as the pandemic plunged the […]

Spreading love through origami hearts

In light of the recent anti-Asian incidents that have occurred across the nation, Linda Mihara created the “Hearts for Love” campaign to spread positivity. Aiming to fold 1,000 origami hearts, the origami expert was inspired by the Japanese legend that says the gods will grant a wish to the person who folds 1,000 origami cranes. […]

Feed the Soil: Former news anchor Wendy Tokuda’s passion for restorative agriculture

OAKLAND, Calif. — If not for the concrete driveway leading up to her house, one might mistake Wendy Tokuda’s garden as part of the native Oakland, Calif. landscape. It’s a quiet community of coyote brush, Ceanothus, coffeeberry and flowering currants beneath stands of Redwoods and bay laurels. Monkeyflowers nod and drifts of poppies move with […]

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 […]

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