All articles written by Carolyn Sugiyama Classen, Editor
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SAJCC Director Yukihiro Ibuki passed away in Kyoto, Japan
Our SAJCC Director Yuki Ibuki passed away in Kyoto, Japan on Dec, 3, 2023 at age 64. He was our Interim Director from July 2016 to May 2017 when he was named Director. Yuki worked for UA Respiratory Center (University of Arizona/Dept. of Medicine/UAHS Center for Sleep and Circadian Sciences) for 10 years but also was a Johrei practitioner at Tucson Johrei Fellowship Center for many more years.
Japanese Culture Day held at International School of Tucson on November 19, 2023
Two SAJCC Study Abroad Scholarships awarded to University of Arizona students for summer 2023 in Kyoto, Japan
Back in 2019 our SAJCC Council created a Study Abroad in Japan Scholarship program to award two $500 scholarships to financially needy UA college students enrolled in the Arizona in Kyoto summer class. Two students were awarded the scholarships in 2019, but this UA study abroad program was cancelled for 3 summers due to the covid -19 pandemic.
16 students in the 2023 Arizona in Kyoto: Experience Japanese Culture (new name) summer course were encouraged to submit an application and essay about why they wanted to study in Kyoto, Japan. 6 students applied and our Scholarship committee consisting again of Chair Carolyn Sugiyama Classen (SAJCC Editor), her husband Professor Albrecht Classen (Director of Medieval Europe Study Abroad program), and retired East Asian Professor Min Yanagihashi (SAJCC Council) reviewed the applications and unanimously chose two Japanese majors Isaac Brand and Harrison Moffatt to receive the scholarships. Both students are also majoring in Linguistics.
Students Isaac Brand and Harrison Moffatt in front of East Asian Studies Dept.banner
Two Southern Arizonans interviewed for Chasing Cherry Blossoms podcast
ASU Asst. Professor Reina Higashitani (Sidney Poitier New American Film School) has recently produced a podcast show “Chasing Cherry Blossoms – Reframing American history through the Japanese experience“. Description of this show: “As Americans grapple with increasing tension and division, what can we learn from the past to connect with each other? The series illustrates generations of Japanese immigrants’ experiences through intimate conversations and explores what it means to be an American today.”
Higashitani and her student film crew interviewed two Southern Arizonans – Carolyn Sugiyama Classen, former Legislative Aide to U.S. Senator Dan Inouye who worked on the redress issue, and Dr.Brett Esaki, UA East Asian Studies Department Assistant Professor.
Carolyn’s podcast: Episode 1: Banana (buzzsprout.com)
Brett’s podcast: Episode 3: Where are you REALLY from? (buzzsprout.com)
Carolyn and Brett had met this ASU Film crew when they attended the 80th anniversary Day of Remembrance panel discussion at the University of Arizona APASA office on Feb. 18, 2022.
Carolyn’s father had been forced to relocate from L.A. to Chicago in 1942 after being expelled from USC Dental School due to being Japanese American, and Brett’s grandparents met in one of the WWII Internment camps.
Other episodes are available at the Chasing Cherry Blossoms website: Chasing Cherry Blossoms — Reina Higashitani (un-nun.com)
11/9/23 AZ Humanities Podcast about these project entitled “Representation Matters: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVNh0T4oGXc
Suzu Mitsuyuki, trained in classical Japanese dance, performed at Yume Japanese Gardens (2130 N. Alvernon Way) on April 14 and 15, 2023 for “Dance of Spring” evenings. Photos taken by James Tokishi, more available at his FB page:
Day of Remembrance panel discussion held at Tucson Desert Art Museum on Feb. 18, 2023
New book “The Japanese American Experience: Change & Continuity” published by Dr. Min Yanagihashi (retired UA Professor) in Sept. 2022
One of our founding Council members on our Southern Arizona Japanese Cultural Coalition, retired UA Professor Min Yanagihashi has just published a new book entitled “The Japanese American Experience: Change & Continuity” by Liberty Hill Publishing. Min is a Nisei (2nd generation) from Honolulu, Hawaii and taught at the University of Arizona in their East Asian Studies Dept.
In this book, Min captures our Japanese American experience as immigrants, the racism during World War II of being relocated into mass internment camps, the hard work & determination to reach economic success thereafter, the strong values taught to our descendants like me (Sansei, 3rd generation).
“Immigration and racism are contentious issues in many societies. This book deals, in part, with these two controversies through the experiences of the Japanese Americans. No other second-generation ethnic group is given the kind of recognition achieved by the Nisei (second-generation Japanese Americans). But it was a perilous journey, fraught with endless discrimination, questioning of loyalty, and even confinement in concentration camps. Yet they were able to achieve remarkable success in politics and made significant advances in American society. Although thoroughly assimilated, they kept alive their rich cultural heritage. America is a country with diverse cultures, and this diversity is to be celebrated and not feared, for herein lies the strength of America. The narrative begins with a historical perspective and ends with an observer-participant view of recent events. This is a story that needs to be told. “
3/4/23 book review in AZ Daily Star (page E5): https://tucson.com/entertainment/books/southern-arizona-authors-delve-into-mystery-history-and-adventure/article_90e11730-b6e1-11ed-9860-7b6e12bf2ce0.html
Personal Justice Reconciled
Editor Carolyn Sugiyama Classen’s father Francis Sueo Sugiyama was awarded a posthumous honorary bachelor’s degree on April 1, 2022 by University of Southern California. USC had unjustly expelled him without due process of law from first year dental school in 1942.
She wrote up an op-ed piece for AZ Daily Star on this experience, “Personal Justice Reconciled” which was published on April 27, 2022 (page A6):
She also spoke about this experience and working as a Legislative Aide to U.S. Senator Dan Inouye in 1979/1980 — at the first Golden Week celebration of JACL – AZ on Monday, April 25, 2022 at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Phoenix. She was instrumental in passage of P.L.96-317 which created the National Commission on Wartime Relocation & Internment of Civilians, which investigated this wrong done to Japanese Americans during WWII.
Her final personal thoughts of reconciliation and peaceful contemplation of the USC tribute rock garden in memory of these students and their families: https://blogforarizona.net/my-fathers-personal-justice-reconciled-80-years-later/
You tube video of Carolyn’s presentation as recorded by JACL AZ President Bill Staples: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jpqigfkt3JI&feature=youtu.be
Kazuma Sambe’s ceramic art at Yun Gee Park Gallery in 2022
Tucson ceramic artist Kazuma Sambe’s art on display at Yun Gee Park Gallery in Tucson in Spring, 2022
Beautiful and colorful Japanese themed art by featured ceramic artist Kazuma Sambe is currently on display in the Spring, 2022 at Yun Gee Park Gallery (named for Korean-American co-owner), at 4226 E. 2nd St. (west of Columbus Ave.) Kazuma is married to TUSD Educator Junko Sakoi.
Part of his artist statement: “We eat facts and digest them into our reality. Food is an essential element in our life, not only for nutrition but also as a cultural representation through sight and taste. We sometimes think that the food we see with our eyes is the whole image. However, advertising culture manipulates and distorts reality to stimulate consumers’ imagination and turns its product into hope and satisfaction. When we go to a fast food restaurant and order a burger, what we actually get is different from the one depicted in the fancy advertisement. We unconsciously compromise the image or even alter our own perceptions of the burger and eat without suspicion and disappointment.”
Website about Kazuma’s art:
UCLA Professor and film maker Renee Tajima-Pena spoke at the UA Tucson Humanities Festival themed “Storytelling” on October 19, 2021 at the HSIB building (1670 E. Drachman St.) on the UA campus. She highlighted scenes from of her work in producing the 5 hour long PBS special “Asian Americans” . She also spoke about growing up Japanese American in California and her family being interned in two camps in Heart Mt.in Wyoming and Gila River in Arizona.
View hour long video here:
“Tokyo to Tucson” article in AZ Daily Star newspaper on July 22,2021 featuring Japanese culture in Tucson. Just in time for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. Otaku Nation (store), Takoyaki Balls food truck, Tucson Origami Club, and Yume Japanese Gardens are mentioned in the article.
SAJCC Council votes to sign letter sent by Japanese American Citizens League of Arizona to Governor Doug Ducey, about anti-Asian hate in April, 2021
On April 9, the SAJCC Council of 13 members voted to be one of the undersigned organizations in the attached letter to Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, expressing sentiment against anti-Asian violence in Arizona and the nation. The vote was 12-0-1.
Copy of the letter from Japanese American Citizens League of Arizona (Glendale, AZ) below.
Peaceful video of Enchanted Evenings at Yume Japanese Gardens taken during pandemic of Fall, 2020
Music by Paul Amiel. Vimeo video is 8 minutes, 30 seconds in duration
Yume Japanese Gardens is at 2130 N. Alvernon Way, Tucson. It opened in January 2013.
Japanese culture re-framed at annual Tucson Meet Yourself Folklife Festial in October, 2020
SAJCC provides assistance funds to several Japanese American businesses and organizations during COVID-19 pandemic in July, 2020
The Southern Arizona Japanese Cultural Coaltion (SAJCC) Council decided to provide emergency assistance funds to Japanese American businesses and organizations during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. A committee consisting of Director Yuki Ibuki, Treasurer Clint Cooper, Secretary K. Negley, and Dr. Min and Evelyn Yanagihashi set up a selection process and chose these recipients, with approval of the full Council. Funds were distributed in July, 2020 to:
- Odaiko Sonora (taiko drummers): $1500 Covid-19 support donation (1013 S. Tyndall Avenue)
- Tucson Japanese Language School: $500 for Covid-19 scholarship support plus a donation of 15 purchased Family Memberships for Yume Japanese Gardens (1701 E. Seneca St.)
- Yume Japanese Gardens: $500 Covid-19 support donation (2130 N. Alvernon Way)
- Ikkyu Restaurant: $500 to assist with their restaurant operations for food donations to medical personnel of Covid-19 (2040 W. Orange Grove Rd).
Be well everyone, and stay safe during this pandemic. For more info about these donated funds, contact Director Yuki Ibuki at firstname.lastname@example.org
SAJCC’s Ross Iwamoto and Carolyn Classen receive awards at Pan Asian Community Alliance Lunar New Year celebration on Feb. 29, 2020
Southern Arizona Japanese Cultural Coalition’s founder and 1st Director Ross Iwamoto was named Pan Asian Man of the Year, and SAJCC Editor (for 7 years) Carolyn Sugiyama Classen was named Friend of Pan Asian — at the Feb. 29 Pan Asian Community Alliance’s 25th annual Lunar New Year celebration at the Tucson Marriott University Park Hotel, 880 E. 2nd St.
Ross served on the SAJCC Council from 2012 to 2016, and Carolyn is a Founding member of the SAJCC & is still currently on the Council.
Ross has also been active on PACA’s board, with the TUSD Pan Asian Studies Program and the So. Az Asian Pacific Islanders Health Coalition. Ross was the Director of a 2009 Asian American Pacific Islander conference in Tucson, bringing in his cousin Robert Kiyosaki (Rich Dad, Poor Day author) as keynote speaker. Ross is Sansei (3rd generation Japanese American), from the island of Molokai, Hawaii. He also paints watercolors and has been included in a few United by Art exhibits at the Consulate of Mexico in Tucson.
Carolyn also served for one year on the PACA board, three years recently on the Community Council of APASA (Asian Pacific American Student Affairs), where she was awarded the 1st Community Builder award in 2018. She teachers students how to play mah jong every Friday during the academic school year. She founded Mah Jong Mondays at Himmel Park Library, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in January. Carolyn has also been a member/volunteer at the Tucson Chinese Cultural Center since 2008. She is likewise a Sansei, from N. Kohala on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Entertainment at the PACA dinner was provided by Mari Kaneta’s Suzuyuki Kai Dancers (pictured below), Siva Maia Polynesian Dancers, and Neneng Babanto Fassler Filipino dancers.
Some of the Japanese/Asian American past recipients of PACA awards were:
Dr. Henry “Hank” Oyama, Pan Asian Man of the Year 2005 (Educator/Vice President Emeritus at Pima Community College). He was interned during WWII at Poston Internment Camp. Hank passed away in 2013 at age 86.
M. Craig, Pan Asian Woman of the Year 2006 (founder of Tucson Origami Club, past President of Japan America Society of Tucson, founding member of SAJCC). M is half Japanese/half African American.
Karen Falkenstrom, Pan Asian Woman of the Year 2009 (founder of Odaiko Sonora taiko drummers, active on Tucson Japanese Festival committee and former SAJCC Treasurer – half Korean American/half Caucasian).
Dr. Sylvia Lee, Friend of Pan Asian 2014 (former President of PCC NW and elected to one six year term on Pima Community College Governing Board). Sylvia is of Japanese/Chinese/Caucasian ethnicity.
Mari Kaneta, Pan Asian Woman of the Year 2018 (founder of Japanese dance troupe Suzuyuki-Kai, owner of Yamato Japanese restaurant).
Tucson Japanese Festival held on January 18, 2020 was a huge success
Photo gallery with more photos of the festival published in Blog for Arizona: hyperlink: https://blogforarizona.net/photo-gallery-of-2020-tucson-japanese-festival/
Two SAJCC Study Abroad Scholarships awarded to University of Arizona students for summer 2019 in Kyoto, Japan
In Feb. 2019 the SAJCC Council created a Study Abroad in Japan Scholarship program, to award two $500 scholarships to financially needy UA college students enrolled in a Kyoto, Japan summer class.
12 students in the June to July course were encouraged to submit information on an application form and an essay about why they wanted to study in Kyoto, Japan. An SAJCC selection committee was established and the deadline to apply was April 1, 2019. The selection committee were Chair Carolyn Sugiyama Classen, her husband Professor Albrecht Classen (Director of Medieval Europe study abroad for 15 years), and retired East Asian Professor Min Yanagihashi.
University of Arizona students Adrian Ford and Philipp Roederer were each awarded these scholarships to use in their study abroad course “Arizona in Kyoto: Japanese Food & Traditional Culture”. Ford is a Broadcast Journalism major, with a minor in Japanese; Roederer is a Japanese language/Pre-Business major.
Ford’s statement (excerpt): “My dream is to be a foreign correspondent for a big news network writing and speaking on Japan. My number one dream would to be move there and report from there. However, I have never travelled to Japan, this trip would allow me to see my dream out and guarantee to myself that this is what I want to do, and where I want to live.”
Roederer’s essay (excerpt): “I have not yet been to Japan, in fact, I have not yet traveled outside of the United States. So, studying abroad in Kyoto will be a first for both for me. As mentioned, what made me interested in learning about Japan in the first place is Zen Buddhism and so Kyoto will be the perfect place for me to study abroad in as it is a center for Japanese culture, including Buddhism.”
Both students were required to give a short presentation on their study abroad experience to the SAJCC Council in the Fall of 2019.
On September 16, both students presented a power point at the Johrei Fellowship Center about their learning and culinary experiences in Kyoto and Osaka, Japan. Both enjoyed their summer study abroad experience and were grateful for the scholarship. Attending this meeting were several SAJCC Council members, Professor Albrecht Classen, and East Asian Studies professors Josh Schlachet and Chieko Nakano, who ran the Kyoto study abroad program.
Childrens’ Day celebration held at Yume Japanese Gardens on March 9, 2019
Yume Japanese Gardens (2130 N. Alvernon Way) hosted a Children’s Day celebration early on March 9, 2019. Usually this event is held on Children’s Day which is on May 5 of each year. Various activities were held for children to participate in such as wearing yukata and hapi coats, origami folding, decorating a paper lantern, learning Japanese games such as hanafuda, kendama, ayatori, fukuwarai. Otaku Nation store had a table with Japanese items for sale, and the Takoyaki Balls food truck served takoyaki, curry rice, onigiri, okonomiyaki. Calligraphy, anime viewing and a puppet show were also included with admission.
Carolyn Classen, SAJCC Editor taught the Japanese card game of hanafuda, while SAJCC Councilmember Miki Pimienta taught the other games listed above. SAJCC Councilmember Miyako McKay helped dress the children & adults in the yukata & hapi coats.
Photos below courtesy of M Fumie Craig, founder of Tucson Origami Club & also a SAJCC Councilmember, who taught origami at this event. More photos at Tucson Origami Club’s FB page: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.1903932353051686&type=3
Tucson Japanese Festival on January 19, 2019 a huge success at new location Tucson Chinese Cultural Center
For the 6th year in a row, SAJCC hosted a New Year’s Tucson Japanese Festival on January 19, 2019 at the lovely Tucson Chinese Cultural Center, 1288 W. River Rd. Once again Japanese cultural activities,food, games, musical/dance performances, taiko drumming, martial arts was included in the day’s festivities.
MC again was Louis Rivera, and Dr. Min Yanagihashi gave his talk again about the history of rice and mochi pounding. Photos below courtesy of M Fumie Craig, founder of Tucson Origami Club and one by Louis Rivera. Chair of the event was Sharon Arceneaux, who has been a volunteer for the festival for 4 years.
Co-host Odaiko Sonora performed on their taiko drums, Suzuyuki Kai danced a few traditional dances from Japan. There was martial arts demonstrations by Tucson Kendo Kai, Tucson Bujinkan Dojo, Bujinkan USA, Aikido Shoubu Dojo, and Aikido at the Center. Paul Amiel & Empty Bamboo Shakuhachi performed their flutes in the library.
Origami was taught & folded in a dance studio, along with Go, kendama & furuwarai games, with kimono demonstrations & tea ceremony in another dance studio.
Additional photos published in Blog for Arizona:
Talk on WWII Japanese American internment camps in Arizona held at Himmel Park Library on April 11, 2018
Retired East Asian Studies Professor Dr. Min Yanagihashi wrote a scholarly article on the two Arizona WWII Internment camps (at Gila River and Poston), and then presented his paper, with a slide show at a SAJCC sponsored event, at Himmel Park Library (1035 N. Treat Ave.) on April 11, 2018.
Event flyer created by Crystal Akazawa posted here, as well as pdf of Min’s article, and two videotapes (taken by SAJCC volunteer freelancer James Tokishi). Water and Japanese snacks (senbei, arare) were provided by SAJCC with some donated by Kenji Azeka, with assistance of Evelyn Yanagihashi.
Videotape 1 (lecture, with welcome by Carolyn Sugiyama Classen, Editor):https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mY10aCTpTyY
Videotape 2 (questions/answers):https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxtfUCdCkG4
Thanks to the PCC Asian Pacific Cultural Club who helped set up the chairs, serve refreshments, and clean up afterwards.
SAJCC Council members in attendance at this event: Director Yuki Ibuki, Dr. Min Yanagihashi, Carolyn Sugiyama Classen, Evelyn Yanagihashi, Crystal Akazawa, K Negley, Ginger Sugimoto. Over 40 people attended this talk.
Tucson Japanese Festival held on January 20, 2018 to celebrate New Year of the Dog
For 5th year the SAJCC sponsored a New Year’s event (along with cohost Odaiko Sonora) now called the Tucson Japanese Festival (formerly called Tucson Mochitsuki) at PCC Downtown, 1255 N. Stone Ave. Musical and dance performances were held in the Amethyst room, delicious Japanese food (and samples) were provided, along with Japanese games/origami upstairs in the Campus Center building.
Chair of the 2018 event was Suke Nakata and MC was again Louis Rivera. Mochi pounding was demonstrated outside. Sensei Masayuki Kobayashi from Japan explained the mochi pounding and making process. Over 1000 people attended, despite the rainy weather.
New this year: PCC Art /Hiro Tashima ceramics demo and Mari Kaneta‘s Suzuyuki Kai traditional kabuki dancing on stage. Dance troupe is pictured below.
Additional info/photos on FB page: www.facebook.com/southernazjapan/
PCC Aztec Press video: http://aztecpressonline.com/2018/01/tucson-japanese-festival/
Beautiful origami on display at Yume Japanese Gardens for “Between Folds: Classical Origami” exhibit (October 1 to December 31, 2017)
Tucson Origami Club founder/teacher M. Fumie Craig created beautiful plant and animal displays for this exhibit. Origami LAFF teacher Mary Ellen Palmeri contributed a few creations as well. Photos courtesy of M. Craig.
First time Otaku Festival hosted at Yume Japanese Gardens on March 4, 2017
“The hippest hobby in Japan today is “cosplay.” That’s a portmanteau word that describes making up and suiting up to adopt – and in the most extreme cases, even live out – the activities of characters in Japanese cartoons, anime movies, music videos, and manga comics. The most obsessed, full-time fans form a genuine subculture that Japanese social scientists call “otaku.”
Showcasing these activities at the Otaku Festival on March 4 were — two anime screenings, tin foil art creations by Shawn Richards, modern doll displays, origami taught by M. Fumie Craig, and a lively cosplay dance performance by Lani Villanueva (joined by Louis Rivera, organizer of the festival). Authentic curry stew and inarizushi were on sale, along with other Japanese snacks (i.e green tea pocky and senbei). Lani’s cosplay character is Hatsune Miku.
Day of Remembrance on Feb. 18, 2017 at the Tucson Desert Art Museum
SAJCC members participated in the 75th Anniversary Day of Remembrance at Tucson Desert Art Museum, in commemoration of the signing of E.O. 9066 by FDR, which set into motion the relocation & internment of about 120,000 Japanese Americans. Retired East Asian UA Professor Min Yanagihashi, ASU Professor Kathryn Nakagawa (whose family was interned), and former U. S. Senate Legislative Aide Carolyn Sugiyama Classen, JD participated in a panel discussion about the Pearl Harbor attack, the signing of E.O. 9066, the internment camp roundup during WWII and the aftermath, to seek redress.
Min and Kathryn gave historical perspectives, and Carolyn related her insider’s view of working with Senior Hawaiian U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye, in the creation of the National Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. The Commission found that a “grave injustice” had been done to the Japanese Americans during WWII, and recommended an apology from the US President, and redress of $20,000 per internee. President Ronald Reagan did finally issue an apology in 1988 and redress was finally paid to over 82,000 recipients, but many internees had already passed away.
Three exhibits on the Japanese American internment camps opened on November 5,2016 and are ongoing at the Tucson Desert Art Museum till April 30, 2017. Poet Heather Nagami (whose family was interned) has some of her poems at this exhibit and also read 9 poems from “Acts of Translation” on the Day of Remembrance. Professors Terry and Susie Matsunaga also related their family’s internment camp experiences, in a separate panel discussion. Ongoing exhibits:
Gambatte! Legacy of an Enduring Spirit: Triumphing over Adversity. Japanese American WWII Incarceration Reflections, Then and Now (photography by Paul Kitagaki Jr.) Kitagaki was supposed to be present on the Day of Remembrance but his flight from California was cancelled due to winter storm weather.
Behind Barbed Wire: Japanese American Incarceration in Arizona
Art of Circumstance: Art and Artifacts Created by Japanese Americans Incarcerated During WWII.
Tucson Japanese Festival a huge success at PCC Downtown on January 14, 2017
Tucson Japanese Festival (new name) was held on January 14, 2017 at PCC Downtown, 1255 N. Stone Ave. to celebrate the New Year. For the 4th year, SAJCC sponsored a New Year’s festival featuring numerous performances. Origami was taught and Go, fukuwarai and kendama games were played upstairs again in the campus center, and ikebana and bonsai (Tucson Bonsai Club) were on display. Odaiko Sonora and Yume Japanese Gardens of Tucson were festival co-sponsors.
There were more performers this year: Odaiko Sonora, Japanese media presentation by Alex Coulombe, Tucson Kendo Kai, Pianists Shiho Takeda & Aika Tatebe, violinist Ayla Moreno (5 year old), Yuki Ibuki (tenor song), Yosakoi Dancers (Yurika Tatebe & friends), Tucson Japanese Language School choir, Paul Amiel (shakuhachi) and Akiwa Abe Brown (koto), Sonoran Aikikai, Ken Koshio & K2 Enterprise (taiko) from Phoenix (new), Lani Villanueva (anime presentation), J’s Martial Arts Performing Academy from Mesa.
Green tea, senbei and mochi samples were provided to over 700 attendees. Takoyaki and ramen were sold by Tomomi Katz at her food booth, and onigiri (musubi) were sold by the Tucson Japanese Language School.
Photos below courtesy of M. Fumie Craig. Photo gallery posted:http://blogforarizona.net/photo-gallery-of-2017-tucson-japanese-festival/
Articles below this line are past events posted in 2012 and afterwards, in reverse chronological order to 2016.
3rd Annual Tucson Mochitsuki held on January 9, 2016 at new location, PCC Downtown
SAJCC sponsored a larger Mochitsuki on January 9 at Pima Community College Downtown, 1255 N. Stone Avenue, with support from Yume Japanese Gardens of Tucson, Odaiko Sonora, and PCC Downtown. The event drew more than 600 attendees and had many more exhibitors and food vendors (i.e. takoyaki booth, Fat Noodle Truck, Sky Islands HS Japanese class serving musubi, PCC Diversity Club selling Japanese snacks, Sandyi Oriental Market, etc.) Event Chair was Wayne Tanaka.
Oshiruko sweet soup with mochi sample and green tea were served. On the stage were performances from Odaiko Sonora, Tucson Kendo Kai, kyudo (archery), an anime presentation by Lani Villanueva, a chado tea ceremony, singer Yurika Tatebe. Upstairs were tables with Tucson Origami Club, Tucson Go Club, kendama, fukuwarai.
More photos and video online at our FB page, www.facebook.com/tucsonmochi/, and at http://blogforarizona.net/photo-gallery-of-3rd-annual-japanese-mochitsuki-celebration/
Origami paper cranes folded for Tucson Repertory Orchestra’s concert trip to Japan in October, 2015
Tucson Repertory Orchestra (TRO) Director Toru Tagawa is originally from Hiroshima, Japan. He and his violinist wife Laura Tagawa planned a concert trip to Hiroshima and Okayama in October 2015 and Laura decided to ask the community for help in folding 1,000 origami paper cranes to take to the Children’s Peace memorial in memory of Sadako Sasaki, who had tried to fold 1000 cranes prior to her death at age 12 (from radiation sickness).
On September 12, Laura asked the Tucson community (including Tucson Origami Club, Origami LAFF and So. AZ Japanese Cultural Coalition) for help. We all pitched in and within 2 weeks had folded over 3,000 cranes, through the help of the owners of Snow Peas restaurant (1402 S. Craycroft Rd.) which was providing folding space, a large “fishbowl” to hold the cranes, and origami paper for pickup. Several folding sessions were held there for the community to drop in and help.
The final count of strung cranes was 3012, which were shipped in an empty tuba case to Japan. There were several sizes folded from very tiny 1″ x 1″ to larger 6″x 6″, but the common size was 3″ x 3″, plus others, some from recycled paper.
Congratulations to Laura Tagawa, Toru Tagawa and the TRO for this gesture of peace from the Tucson community, which were presented to the Hiroshima children’s peace memorial on October 14, 2015. Photos courtesy of Laura Tagawa.
More info on TRO at www.tucsonrepertoryorchestra.org.
New Year’s Mochitsuki in the desert; 2nd Annual held
It was the vision of Founder/1st Director Ross Iwamoto that our SAJCC and friends sponsor a mochi pounding/tasting festival for Japanese New Year’s. The first successful mochitsuki event was held at Yume Japanese Gardens, 2130 N. Alvernon Way on January 4, 2014. Executive director of Yume Gardens Patricia Deridder and M. Fumie Craig were in charge, and about 200 people attended. Odaiko Sonora performed on their taiko drums and Paul Amiel played his soothing shakuchachi flute.
Photos below of 1st Mochitsuki, courtesy of Heather Nagami from FB page.
The second one was held on January 10, 2015 at Rhythm Industry Performance Factory (1013 S. Tyndall Avenue), home of Odaiko Sonora taiko drummers, which was even more popular, with double the amount of participants. UA Kyudo Club also participated on stage, and there was an anime presentation, songs by Yuki Ibuki and Okiraku (shakuhachi,koto,shamisen trio).
A stone usu and wooden kine were borrowed from Phoenix for the first event. 2015 Event coordinator was Heather Nagami and her husband Bryan Barnes built a beautiful wooden usu (mortar) and two kines (mallets) for the second. Happy New Year!
Photos of 2nd Annual event here: http://blogforarizona.net/photo-gallery-of-2nd-annual-japanese-new-years-mochitsuki-celebration/. Additional photos below courtesy of freelance photographer James Tokishi.
Ross Iwamoto presenting 2015 Ministry of Foreign Affairs Japan calendar to Event Coordinator Heather Nagami:
Odaiko Sonora drummers (Karen Falkenstrom & Nicole Stansbury on left) pounding mochi:
For even more photos of the Mochitsuki, go to our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/tucsonmochi/ (public, you don’t have to sign in to FB).
“Wounded” Tiger” book by former Tucsonan Martin Bennett
This is a compelling novel published in March 2014. “Wounded Tiger” is about Commander Mitsuo Fuchida who led the famous 12/7/41 Pearl Harbor attack, but also about “Doolittle raider” Jake Deshazer who became a Japanese P.O.W after the Doolittle bombing raid on Japan in April 1942, and a Baptist missionary family the Covells who lived 20 years in Japan, then fled to the Philippines during WWII. How these 3 true stories intersect is amazing. More info at Martin Bennett’s website www.woundedtigerbook.com. Recent online review about this book: http://blogforarizona.net/wounded-tiger-about-commander-mitsuo-fuchida-who-led-wwii-attack-on-pearl-harbor-book-review/
UPDATE 12/7/23: 3rd Edition of this book now out with many more B/W photos: http://www.southernazjapan.org/many-new-photos-in-3rd-edition-of-wounded-tiger-novel/
In Memory of Educator Dr. Henry “Hank” Oyama (1926 – 2013)
On March 20, 2013 86-year old Tucson educator Dr. Henry “Hank” Oyama passed away. He was a former teacher at Pueblo High School, then went on to a career in bilingual education at Pima Community College, retiring as Vice President Emeritus after 22 years. He was interned at age 15 in the Poston Internment Camp in Arizona in May 1942 (along with his mother and sister), and also challenged the Arizona anti-miscegenation law in 1959, in order to marry his Caucasian college sweetheart Mary Ann Jordon. An elementary school in Tucson was named after him in 2003. Read more in obituary in Arizona Daily Star.
Guest opinion dated 3/21/17 on Dr. Oyama in Arizona Daily Star, page A10: http://tucson.com/news/opinion/column/guest/billie-kozolchyk-oyama-rose-above-internment-fought-discrimination-in-arizona/article_f13070e6-b5bb-53d4-8140-807af676667c.html
Oyama Elementary School photo below, 2700 S. La Cholla Blvd.in Tucson.
Yume Japanese Gardens opened in January, 2013 (first Japanese Gardens in Tucson, Arizona)
Owner/Executive Director Patricia Deridder had a dream (yume) to create a beautiful and tranquil Japanese garden in her new home of Tucson. Originally from Belgium, she had lived for 15 years in Japan as a young woman, and had learned to speak Japanese and the art of ikebana. Visit her gardens at 2130 N. Alvernon Way (open daily except for the summer months, after Children’s Day (May 5) through September 30). More at www.yumegardens.org. There have been a number of Japanese art and cultural exhibitions & workshops, as well as concerts & plays at Yume gardens since the opening in 2013.
“Asako, The Girl Who Saved Her Village” book published by Odaiko Sonora
Local children’s book by Odaiko Sonora about taiko drumming and a tsunami, published in 2012, a year after the devastating March 11, 2011 tsunami in Sendai, Japan. This book was released at the annual Tucson Festival of Books in celebration of Odaiko Sonora’s 10th year anniversary . Contact Odaiko Sonora to purchase a copy of their book at email@example.com.
Discover Nikkei online:
Editor Carolyn Sugiyama Classen wrote an article in August, 2012 for an online journal Discover Nikkei (about Japanese migrants & their descendents) entitled “My International Family” (click here). She writes about how her Japanese American family (raised in Hawaii) married mostly foreigners. This national website is a resource for everyone of Japanese descent.
Origami/Hanafuda Card Game at Tucson Origami Club
Interested in learning how to fold beautiful & creative origami (Japanese paper folding) or play hanafuda (Japanese flower 48 card game)? Come to the Tucson Japanese Culture and Origami MeetUp Group (now called Tucson Origami Club) on the 1st Saturday of each month at 10 a.m. at Dao’s Tai Pan resturant, 446 N. Wilmot Rd. (north of Broadway Blvd.) in Tucson.
Founder/Nisei M Fumie Craig has been hosting this origami club for over 10 years, and has taught origami at numerous venues, including the Pima County Public Library. Sansei Carolyn Classen teaches hanafuda, which she learned as a child to play in Hawaii, where the game is very popular. She has taught it also to the Asian Pacific American Student Affairs group at the UA, at several Japanese Speech Contests, Yume Gardens, and at the 2nd Annual Tucson New Year’s Mochitsuki.
Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Site:
Near Tucson, Arizona is the Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation site on Catalina Highway up to Mount Lemmon, turn off at mile post 7. There are a few concrete remnants of the prison buildings, plus the information kiosk (photo below). Gordon Hirabayashi was a young Japanese American from Seattle, Washington who was imprisoned in the prison camp that existed there during WWII. He challenged his unlawful imprisonment (Japanese American internment) in U.S. vs. Hirabayashi, 320 U.S. 81 (1943). Read more in wikipedia. The Coronado National Forest named the site after him in 1999.
Photo below courtesy of Brandy Gannon.