New Anime Wonder Festival at Rillito Park Race Track on Dec. 9 & 10

Sat. Dec. 9, 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Sun. Dec. 10, 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Historic Rillito Park Race

4502 N. 1st Avenue, 85718.

“Anime Wonder Festival is a 2-day Outdoor Anime & Japanese Food / Pop-Culture Festival taking place on December 9 and December 10 at Rillito Park Race Track in Tucson, AZ.The AW festival experience will be showcasing the arts with Exhibitors and Artist Vendors, Anime & Video Game Voice Actors, Japanese & Asian Food, Itasha Car Displays, Guest Cosplayers, Cosplay Competitions, A Saturday Night Rave, Main Stage Entertainment, Music, and more! Our festival breaks the barriers of a usual in-door Anime convention.Join us in the 2-day escape in fresh air and jump into the awesome world of Anime.TICKETS WILL NOT BE SOLD AT THE DOOR. MUST PURCHASE IN ADVANCE. All tickets & vendor fees are non-refundable. All sales are final, transfers, cancellations or exchanges. Dates, venues and schedules are subject to change.”

Many new photos in 3rd edition of “Wounded Tiger” novel

It’s Pearl Harbor remembrance day. As a 3rd generation Japanese American/Sansei born and raised in Hawaii (but after Dec. 7, 1941), I am indirectly affected by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. My mother was a nurse at St. Francis Hospital in Honolulu and heard the bombs dropping, and my father was a dental student at USC in Los Angeles (and was forced to flee to Chicago in the aftermath of E.O. 9066). An Uncle and a cousin served honorably in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

But this post is about author T. Martin Bennett who did meticulous research and writing to bring forth this amazing true story about Pearl Harbor, the US Air force Doolittle Raiders who bombed Japan in April, 1942, and an American missionary family who lived in Japan and the Philippines. Bennett even traveled several times to Japan to do his research over a 3 year period.

Just released a month ago on November 7, 2023 is the 3rd edition of this powerful book, with many B/W photos of the 3 parallel lives during WWII.  These are 3 ultimately intersecting stories of Flight Commander Mitsuo Fuchida of the Japan Imperial Navy, Sgt. Jake DeShazer, a bombardier of the Doolittle Raiders who bombed Tokyo and other nearby cities (and became a Japanese P.O.W. in China), and the Covell family who tried to escape Japanese forces invading the Philippines.

My previous book review published in Blog for Arizona was written in March, 2014 and is still online (check our Culture/History link): 

What I wrote back then still holds true today: “It is about war & peace, extreme courage, suffering & redemption, and finally spiritual understanding. The message of love and humanity is very powerful and fulfilling in all these 3 stories.”

This 3rd edition has now numerous black & white photos of these protagonists and the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and following battles, and is thereby an accurate historical document of what happened in 1941 to 1950. The additional photos truly add to the gripping drama portrayed in this historical novel. The original 1st edition published in 2014 included only a few maps.

I highly recommend this latest, improved edition. Bennett is a former Tucsonan but is now based in Tennessee. He has been trying to get this truly inspiring, epic novel, which he originally wrote as a screenplay, into a major motion picture. All info at

Ultimately, this is a story of transformation from hatred to love, and a spiritual message for all of us. (I am publishing this review simultaneously today in

SAJCC Director Yuki Ibuki passed away in Kyoto, Japan on Dec. 3, 2023

Yuki’s recent Oct. 2022 photo from his FB page

Our Southern Az Japanese Cultural Coalition (SAJCC) Director Yuki Ibuki passed away on December 3, 2023 in his hometown of Kyoto, Japan. Funeral services will be held there on December 6 at Koeki-sha Minami-Bright Hall. He was 64 years old. A Tucson memorial service is pending.

Yuki served honorably and enthusiastically as our Director since May, 2017 and also performed Japanese songs at many of our Festivals. He often gave the welcome at our events and was one of our 2012 founding Council members. For many years he also organized Japanese community meet up lunches at various restaurants in Tucson. Yuki also participated in many tea ceremonies and haiku readings at Yume Japanese Gardens here in Tucson. He won honorable mention at several AZ Matsuri haiku contests.

Then-Pima Community College Chanceller Lee Lambert with Yuki at our last Tucson Japanese Festival in January 2020 (before the pandemic and 3 year hiatus)

Yuki was a practitioner for the Johrei Fellowship Tucson Center in Tucson, Arizona for many years, and was employed as a research specialist at the UA Respiratory Center for 10 years (University of Arizona/Dept. of Medicine/UAHS Center for Sleep and Circadian Sciences.)

He is survived by his four children Hiroto, Yuko, Miiku and Masahiko and two grandchildren. Condolence messages can be sent to his son Hiroto Ibuki at:143 Yoshidakaguraoka-chou, Sakyou-ku, Kyouto-shi, Kyouto-Fu, Japan, Zip is 606-8311.

Rest In Peace Yuki, and we at SAJCC will miss you, and are grateful for your many years of service to our Tucson community.

Yukihiro Ibuki performing on stage at 2016 Tucson Japanese Festival at PCC Downtown

A Taste of Japanese Teas & Photo exhibit reception on December 8 at Yume Japanese Gardens

“Come join us for a Taste of Japanese Teas, an educational and delicious tea tasting led by tea scholar and certified tea practitioner, Eric Carr. Guests will enjoy (and learn to brew) a selection of Japanese teas from everyday sencha to refreshing mugicha — and even get to taste a rare and little-known tea from Eric’s personal collection! 

Admission to the event includes a tasting of five teas, brewing lessons, as well as a ceramic tasting cup.”

Sign up for tea tasting at

Also later that same evening, a reception for Peter Fuhrman, photographer for new exhibit “Land of the Rising Sun” which opened on Nov. 9 and continues to May30, 2024.

“The exhibit features a diverse array of photographs taken during the artist’s immersive journey through Japan in 2015.
With a keen eye for detail and a profound understanding of the art of photography, Peter captures Japan’s culture and daily life presenting intimate indoor spaces and meticulous architectural elements beautifully encapsulated in each frame.

The reception will include light refreshments and a chance to discuss the exhibit with the artist.
Art also available for purchase. No admission required, this event is free for the public.”

Enjoy all three events at Yume Japanese Gardens on December 8, 2023, 2130 N. Alvernon Way in Tucson.

Hawaiian Ukulele master Jake Shimabukuro at the Fox Tucson Theatre on Nov. 26

“Ukulele master and jolly ambassador of aloha, JAKE SHIMABUKURO, will bring joy to the world this upcoming 2023 Holiday Season by delivering a special gift for all with the debut of his highly anticipated holiday show, JAKE SHIMABUKURO – CHRISTMAS IN HAWAI’I.

With only four strings, Jake is a humble master whose mission is to connect and inspire people. Whether one on one or in front of an audience of thousands, Jake shares a deep emotional connection with the listener that is open, magical, and transcendent. Jake’s genuine love for people, the spirit of Holidays, and his beloved home of Hawaii are at the forefront of JAKE SHIMABUKURO – CHRISTMAS IN HAWAI’I. It will be a warm welcome of merriment and wonder for the season.

In addition to his signature show favorites, this special show will draw on a vibrant catalog of holiday classics such as We Three Kings, Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, O Holy Night, I’ll Be Home For Christmas and selections from his “Jake & Friends” released in November 2021 (Willie Nelson, Bette Midler, Jack Johnson, Michael McDonald, Vince Gill & Amy Grant and more).

Along with bassist Jackson Waldhoff and special Guests, singer-songwriter, Justin Kawika Young – JAKE SHIMABUKURO will spread good cheer to all with his world-renowned live show in a fun take on the holidays sure to keep spirits bright. Exceptional and spirited JAKE SHIMABUKURO’S CHRISTMAS IN HAWAI’I is sure to become an eagerly anticipated annual family event.”

Tickets $20 to $42.50, plus backlot Luau starting at 5 p.m. Fox Tucson Theatre is at 17 W. Congress St. Concert is at 7 p.m.