S.F.’s Japantown proclaims queer pride

Amy Sueyoshi never imagined that the rainbow Pride flag would be raised in San Francisco’s Japantown. The dean of the College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University told the audience at the “Raise the Pride Flag at Peace Plaza” event June 4 she never thought “community leaders (would) see queer stuff as a […]

Mark Izu’s ‘Songs for J-Town’ evokes memories and hopes

Mark Izu assembled performers from across the United States and spent years putting together “Songs for J-Town,” but he only expected around 60 people to attend the April 23 world premiere at the Presidio Theatre in San Francisco when he scheduled the show during the height of the omicron surge. Instead, more than 400 people […]

Mark Izu’s reflective journey through music with ‘Songs For J-Town’ April 23

Nichi Bei Weekly Report Award-winning jazz musician Mark Izu will present his latest concert “Songs for J-Town,” featuring a personal reflection of his nearly five-decade musical journey, April 23 at the Presidio Theatre in San Francisco. He recently sat down with the Nichi Bei Weekly to discuss the project, and what it means to him. […]

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 […]

Contentious redistricting process leaves S.F.’s J-Town relatively unscathed

San Francisco’s nine-member Redistricting Task Force has made headlines during its final weeks of deliberation in April, but the city’s Japantown has largely stayed out of the spotlight, despite sitting on the border of the heavily impacted District 5. Every decade, the city must redraw its 11 supervisorial districts based on the latest U.S. Census […]

Benkyodo: The bittersweet end of an era at S.F. Japantown’s oldest business

Ricky Okamura clocks in to work at 3 a.m., typically hours before the first customer walks in to his store, but on March 26, his first customer beat him there by three hours, pitching a tent and lining up for manju outside Benkyodo Company in San Francisco’s Japantown.  Lines have wrapped around the block, starting […]

NorCal Cherry Blossom Queen Program introduces 2022 candidates

The Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival Queen Program presented its 2022 queen candidates during its inaugural virtual preview press conference March 9 over Zoom. The program, a highlight of the city’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival, will take place April 9 at the AMC Kabuki 8. The candidates are: Katy Akiko Drennan, Stephanie Misa Doi, Michelle […]

My Sister’s House Treasures attracts visitors to Sacramento’s Japantown

An Asian-focused second-hand shop opened in Sacramento, Calif.’s Japantown in October, after a longtime Japanese gift store closed last summer. The domestic violence organization running the store hopes to support its programs, as well as to revitalize the neighborhood located south of the state capital’s downtown. Located a block north of the Business 80 freeway […]

San Jose’s Japantown keeps optimistic outlook going into new year

San Jose Japantown leaders have expressed restrained hope for 2022. The ethnic enclave continues to navigate the pandemic as a long-delayed mixed-use apartment complex project moves forward. “The business climate in Japantown remains slower than pre-pandemic, but our businesses continue to do well in spite of adversity,” Tamiko Rast, president of the Japantown Business Association, […]

Walking tour uses augmented reality to tell San Jose’s Japantown history

It was 4:30 p.m., on a Thursday in November. As the sky was dimming, the tour of Japantown San Jose began. A group of 10 began walking along N. Fifth Street where the San Jose Buddhist Church sits. They looked up at their smartphones in the air and gazed into the two-dimensional space projected on […]

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