Community News

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 […]

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 […]

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