Queen Stephanie Misa Doi and court embark on year-long JA journey

The AMC Kabuki 8 in San Francisco’s Japantown was packed for the 2022 Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival Queen Program April 9, signaling a return to form for the annual program for young professional Japanese American women. The COVID-19 pandemic prompted a major break in tradition as the in-person festival was canceled in 2020. The […]

SAHOMI TACHIBANA: American legacy of a Japanese dancer

Not many people can say their career has lasted nine decades, but for master Japanese classical dancer Sahomi Tachibana, her career in dance spanned 90 years indeed — and so much more.  “Dance has been my life,” Tachibana said in 2005. “Through this form I like to entertain and teach whatever I can offer.” Starting […]

The roots of California bonsai, the Issei and Nisei artists of yesteryear

The art of bonsai has contended with a number of challenges throughout the years. Unlike other works of art, bonsai plants are alive and continue growing even after the artist has long since passed. Rooted in Issei and Nisei hobbyist practitioners, bonsai is a curious art split along generational lines in America. “I think I […]

Ikebana showcases nature’s beauty

Ikebana can help one see nature with a different perspective, particularly as practitioners bring beauty into their homes, said Thanh Nguyen, president of the Ikebana Teachers Federation.  Ikebana can teach people “how to take the beauty from nature and apply it to your normal life,” she told the Nichi Bei Weekly in a phone interview. […]

Judo instructor’s teaching takes her all over the globe

After receiving her bachelor’s degree in physical and health education from Nippon University of Physical Education in Tokyo, Kuniko Takeuchi began teaching judo and physical education in the early 1960s. Later, her career as a judo and P.E. instructor led her abroad, and eventually to the Okubo Judo Club in Sacramento, Calif., where she currently […]

Tea for two

In San Francisco’s Outer Richmond district, Larry Sokyo Tiscornia, 69, and Kimika Soko Takechi, 68, teach tea as members of San Francisco Urasenke Tankokai. The couple met while taking Saturday tea classes with Soko Kobara, founder of the Tankokai, and have since been together, teaching all aspects of the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. Prior to […]

Speaking the language of karate for the Tokyo Olympics

As if fluency in both English and Japanese wasn’t enough, Gakuji Tozaki has used a different type of skill as a means to positively express his Japanese American identity. Through karate, the 26-year-old is aiming to represent the country of his birth in the land of his ancestry in the biggest sporting event in the […]

Ikebana to go: Kiyo’s Floral Design delivers ikebana-inspired creations

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — For designer Lisa Taira, every flower arrangement she creates is one that comes from the heart — even if it’s just one flower. “It’s not just a single flower because it has so much meaning to the person who is actually buying it to give to someone,” said Taira, the owner of […]

Matt Ogawa perpetuates the cultural arts and gives back with a purpose

Whether motivating a group into action or expressing his love for his own Japanese American heritage through his involvement in a myriad of cultural activities, Matt Ogawa doesn’t have to look far for inspiration. Decades ago, his grandfather, the late Frank H. Ogawa, was a popular civil rights leader and longtime Oakland City Council member […]

Ikebana teacher follows family’s legacy of service, sees “revival” in the art

Her grandfather, the Rev. Shozen Naito, was a minister at the Buddhist Temple of Alameda before World War II; her grandmother taught Sogetsu ikebana in the 1970s and Japanese language at the same temple. Her father, Kiyoshi Naito, served as the temple’s board president for three different terms. Following two generations of family leadership at […]

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