SAJCC’s Ross Iwamoto & Carolyn Classen receive awards at Pan Asian Community Alliance’s 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 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.

SAJCC Editor Carolyn Sugiyama Classen and SAJCC Founder/1st Director Ross Iwamoto, with their awards, photo taken by Albrecht Classen

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.

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)

Congratulations to both recipients for these 2020 awards.

Ross and Carolyn, awardees — Professional photo taken by Myla’s Creations & Photography,, 520-906-2079.

Shinrin-yoku walk at Tohono Chul Park on Feb. 29

“Hello everyone,

I am inviting you to disconnect….gift yourself some time out….and get in touch with what your heart and body may be longing for…..

This Saturday I am guiding a walk at Tohono Chul gardens from 10am until noon.  And for any of you that are artists or writers, this practice is so helpful in becoming more intimate with the palette around you.  And should you know of anyone that might be interested or would benefit, please pass along this information.

Registration is through  For questions or additional information, please reach out to me at carolroberge@icloud.con or 206 714 0544.”

Carol Roberge

Spring Ikebana Festival on Feb. 20 to 29 at Yume Japanese Gardens.

“Enjoy the beauty of dozens of signature floral compositions highlighting the wide breadth of flower arrangement styles in one of Japan’s most cherished art forms, during our Spring 2020 Ikebana Floral Festival.

As we do each year, we open the Gardens to the talented adepts of five different schools of Ikebana practice. The result: elegant floral displays throughout our grounds and buildings that reflect the harmony, discipline, and refinement of traditional Japanese flower arranging.

The festival runs from Thursday, February 20 through Saturday, February 29 . Admission is free for members of the Gardens. Admission for non-members is $15 for adults and $5 for children ages three to 15, and includes entry to the entire Gardens, our Museum, and our Art Gallery.

Be sure to combine your visit with a walk through our permanent display of selections from our collection of more than 200 Ikebana vases and vessels – the largest in the nation. Made of ceramics, bamboo, bronze, lacquer, clay, and glass, some are more than a century old, others are contemporary; all are carefully designed to complement the Zen-like spirit of the flower arrangements they hold.

Festival parking is available in the lot inside our main gate on North Alvernon Way and on East Justin Lane, one half block south of the Gardens. Please DO NOT park on East Hampton Place, immediately north of Yume.”, 2130 N. Alvernon Way in Tucson

AZ Matsuri at new location in Phoenix on Feb. 22 and 23

Odaiko Sonora taiko drummers from Tucson will be performing on Feb. 22 at 10:40 a.m. at the Taiko Stage.

Tucson’s Suzuyuki-Kai dancers will be dancing on Main stage as follows:
22nd Saturday: 2:30 -3:15 pm
23rd Sunday: 2:15-3:30 pm

Arizona Kyudo Kai/UA Kyudo Club to perform 1:45 p.m. on Sunday on the Martial Arts Stage.

The Takoyaki Balls truck from Tucson will be in spot F14 in the Circle of Life area northwest quadrant (most of the food trucks will be in that area).

UPDATE 2/19/20: SAJCC Editor Carolyn Classen just got notification that a haiku she wrote has been selected as Outstanding Haiku for this festival. It will be on display at the Haiku Booth.

“Strong Issei people

Jailed in camps in the desert

Shikata ga nai”

(Translation: Issei are the 1st generation Japanese Americans, who emigrated from Japan; Shikata ga nai means “It cannot be helped”).

All info at, including map/location info for Steele Indian School Park, 300 E. Indian School Rd. in Phoenix.