Thursday, December 25, 2008


Nakayoshi wishes you and your loved ones a warm and merry christmas! With all of the hustle and bustle of the holidays, decorating the christmas tree and holiday trim, baking cookies and wrapping gifts, the holidays also brings out the spirit of friendship and thoughtfulness.

So on this warm California Christmas day, Nakayoshi wishes you the best with loved ones and friends!

Nakayoshi's 1st Annual Core Holiday Party on Dec. 13th in conjunction with the December Monthly Planning Meeting

Monday, December 22, 2008

MANIFESTO - Monologue from UC Berkeley Nikkei Student Union's 6th Annual Culture Show

For those of you who missed it, the UC Berkeley Nikkei Student Union held their 6th Annual Culture Show, (r)evolutions a couple weeks ago on Sunday December 7, 2008. I really enjoyed the stories presented in this year's show, as well as the fun dance sequences and an amazing performance from Cal Raijin Taiko. Following a similar format to their culture show in 2007, this year's show also featured in part several monologues from NSU members giving voice to their experiences, feelings, hopes and reactions regarding several issues pertinent to the Japanese American community as well as their identities as Japanese Americans.

With the author's permission, we are posting a transcript of one of the featured monologues by this year's Culture Show Co-Chair, Brian Jocson, titled Manifesto. Brian's monologue focuses on the incident that occurred back in late July/early August of this year when the Building Developer as well as the President of the Homeowner's Association of the building at 1600 Webster Street threatened to stop the Nihonmachi Street Fair from happening because of the supposed problems of litter and disruption the annual event poses to the tenants of the building. If you've been following our blog since then, you may remember several posts we put up on the Nakayoshi blog regarding this same issue (which you can read here, here and here). Brian's piece speaks out on behalf of the younger generation of the community in defense of these community gatherings against those outside of the community who fail to recognize the significance of these events and the cultural enrichment these festivals provide. The monologue begins with a reading of the actual letter of complaint written to the Nihonmachi Street Fair Organizing Committee:

To Nihonmachi Street Fair Committee,

As you are aware, this Association (along with other members of this neighborhood) must tolerate what seems to be an endless use of Post and Webster Streets for a series of look-alike street fairs with the same purveyors of schlocky souvenirs, mediocre food stands and exhibitors who have absolutely no relationship to the community.

The streets and sidewalks of this neighborhood are usually filthy, especially those that surround that appalling mall, and 1600 Webster already devotes part of its yearly budget to the maintenance of its sidewalks and street trees from which this neighborhood receives a direct benefit.

We want to make it very clear to you that if the neighborhood sidewalks are not cleaned in an adequate fashion this year, this Association will file a protest with the City when you seek a permit for next year's street fair.

You want to put on an event; you take responsibility. In this instance, you make a mess, you clean it up. You don't get the benefits (proceeds), without the liabilities (expenses). If your event doesn't make money, you should rethink it's usefulness.

President, 1600 Webster Street Homeowners' Association


To the President of the 1600 Webster Street Homeowners Association,

Thank you for your very “enlightening” letter regarding this year’s Nihonmachi Street Fair. But after carefully reading your letter, I have something to say on behalf of the younger generation of this community.

You say that our festivals and participants have “no relationship to the community,” but I have to question what “community” you’re referring to. What “community”? Your community that replaced the Japantown Bowling alley that used to bring youth and life to the neighborhood. Your “community” that decided to build those expensive condos that refuse to contribute anything positive to our community? Or maybe you’re just referring to the “community” of avid Starbucks drinkers that tried to put mom and pop coffee shops in Japantown out of business?

As you are not aware, this community must fight what seems to be an endless struggle. From losing blocks and blocks of San Francisco Japantown after World War II. From hundreds of Japantowns in the U.S. reduced to only three left in the entire nation. And then to have two of those three bought off and sold. We have over 100 years of history here in Japan Town. For you to move into those condos and complain with so much authority and crass about our traditions and how we choose to celebrate our culture, shows how much you really know about us.

To think that these festivals are about fundraising or making a profit is to truly miss the point. Growing up, these festivals were my only connection to the community. Going to Obon, Nihonmachi Street Fair, and Cherry Blossom festival every year with my Baachan and parents are experiences that defined my identity as a Japanese American. And you’re willing to deny that opportunity to countless others and future generations by threatening our festivals in Japan Town – all over a few pieces of trash on the sidewalk. How can you be so ignorant of the repercussions? My community, memories, and experiences are not schlocky, mediocre or appalling. And anyone who tells me so doesn’t even have the slightest clue of what it truly means to belong in a community. To be tolerant and accepting of diversity.

You should have known what you were getting yourself into when you decided to live here. You want to live here; you take responsibility. In this instance, complaining about our trash is one thing. Saying our festivals are useless and threatening its liveliness is another.

Because I can’t see a Japan Town survive without its long tradition of festivals, and I can’t stand to see it go down because a bunch of overpriced condos complained about a few pieces of trash.

Brian Jocson, Proud member of this community

To find out more about the UC Berkeley Nikkei Student Union (especially if you're a student!), go to Photo Credit: Charlie Nguyen

Friday, December 19, 2008

Summer Study Abroad in Kobe, Japan!

Applications now available for the 2009 Nikkei Cultural Heritage Program.

This year, the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California has teamed with the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center in Los Angeles, the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Washington and the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii. Up to 6 participants from each Cultural Center will be chosen for the Nikkei Youth Cultural Heritage Program in Kobe, Japan.
Through this program you will:
  • EXPLORE Japan with new friends from all over the world

  • LEARN Japanese from an accredited university
  • EXPERIENCE living in Japan with a host families

  • ENJOY other classes such as ikebana, shodo and karate
  • SAVE $$$ with discounted airfares from JAL and discounted tuition

For more information or to download an application please click here.

Join our facebook group!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Mochitsuki Time!

Make your mochi for the New Year!
Mon and Tues, Dec 29-30, 2008
Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California

Shift 1 3:30-4:00 p.m.
Shift 2 4:00-4:30 p.m.
Shift 3 5:00-5:30 p.m.
Shift 4 5:30-6:00 p.m.
Shift 5 6:00-6:30 p.m.
In 1999, Yamada Seika, a manju-ya in San Francisco Japantown, closed its doors after 36 years of business. The owner, Mr. George Yamada, not only generously donated his mochi making machine to the JCCCNC but has shared his talents and joy of mochi making with the community. Participants will have the opportunity to watch Mr. Yamada transform hot cooked rice into mochi. Participants will then have the opportunity to make their own mochi balls to take home.

Sign up to participate ($12/JCCCNC members; $17 guests) OR sign up to volunteer and eat free mochi! For more info, contact Ken at

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Spotlight #7 - Atsushi Miyamoto

Name: Atsushi Miyamoto
Age: 24
Profession: Auditor
Favorite Comfort Food: Curry!

I was born in Everett, Washington and moved through Torrance, CA and back to Washington before ending up in Laguna Hills, CA where I attended high school. Upon graduating, I attended UC Davis and earned double majors in International Relations and Japanese. This included a one-month study abroad program at Ryukoku University in Seta, Japan just outside of Kyoto. It was my first time over there during the rainy season and I just couldn't get used to the hot and humid climate! I visit Japan every few years as all my relatives are out there. I speak relatively fluent Japanese, but find it hard to keep up with vocabulary and oftentimes will substitute English into my sentences when I talk to Mom. But reading the Japanese newspaper or listening to the news? Forget about it!

I can’t say I was ever actively involved in the Japanese-American community. I was technically a “paid member” of the Japanese American Student Society at UCD for a few years, but didn’t participate too much in its activities and events. That was my only exposure to this group and when I think back, I regret not taking advantage of the opportunities available (like most things in hindsight). Through Nakayoshi, I'd like to 1) Volunteer and otherwise help out and become involved in the community; 2) Learn about Japanese-American history and issues; 3) Meet others with the same interests as above. I find it hard to completely relate to Japanese American or Japanese culture as a whole; I'm somewhere in the middle. Culturally, I grew up Japanese in regards to food, language, and customs. As time went on, I became more accustomed to "American" values. Not until I went to Davis did I start meeting other Japanese people and start to practing speaking again as I took up Japanese courses. At this point, I'm trying to embrace both and I think this organization would be a great opportunity to learn do so. I've already had great experiences in the few events I've attended through Nakayoshi and met some great people!

My interests include running, hiking, camping, and generally being out doors. I love watching football, basketball, and most other sports. I attended some Rams and Raiders games while they were in LA, but now that they've moved on, LA doesn't have a football team! I grew up watching the Lakers with Chick Hearn's commentaries so I'm partial to them (sorry Warriors!). I’m also an avid Netflix user and am like a kid in a candy store when I get those red envelopes in the mail. I also enjoy stand-up comics (Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, etc). Those that know me well will say that I eat like there is no tomorrow. As they say, you only live once, so you get one chance to eat all that you can. I love trying out new restaurants and cuisines, especially where the choices are aplenty here in the Bay Area. Lately, I've been trying out new cooking recipes, and am currently looking for the perfect hot wings recipe (for the Superbowl)! Any tips?

Friday, December 12, 2008

JACL/OCA Leadership Conference

Applications are due January 2009 for the coming spring's 2009 JACL/OCA Leadership Conference, and so I've been asked to provide some reflection on my own conference experience from 2004. Here's a piece I wrote about it that ran in the PC.

It happened toward the end of this year’s JACL/OCA Leadership Conference, an annual event held in Washington, D.C. bringing together individuals interested in honing their ability to serve the Asian Pacific American community. My fellow participants and I had just polished off our last dinner together, and although we had a handful more sessions scheduled for the next day, the meal signified a closing of sorts. Thank-you gifts were presented to the organizers, a few people gave speeches, and plans for getting to the airport the following afternoon became a subject of conversation. As folks began leaving the restaurant, I picked up a fortune cookie from our table, cracked it open, and found these words: “A good time to start something new.”

Now I’m really not one for omens, especially those packaged in cultural clichés, but I have to admit that at the very least, the cookie made a good point, even if it was in the form of a sentence fragment. Since the conference had provided us participants with thorough instruction on how to address the issues that face community-based, nonprofit organizations like JACL and OCA, the natural next step would be taking what we had absorbed from the experience and using it right away to spark activity back at our own chapters. Although we had come from all over the country and brought with us a diverse set of agendas, the comprehensive education we received over those five days certainly supplied enough insight and inspiration to help each one of us launch our own “something new” upon returning home.

The conference led off with topical seminars examining specific aspects of the Asian Pacific American experience. We heard from a number of speakers about APA interests within the contexts of healthcare, immigration, welfare, community development, gender equality and civil liberties. We also explored the richness and heterogeneity of APA history, reflecting upon the ways in which our ancestors contributed to the assorted legacies of this nation; later on, we would honor this history with visits to the Smithsonian Museum, the Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism, and the home of former JACL president Pat Okura.

In addition to studying these topics, we learned how to handle some of their accompanying challenges by using practical, proven strategies. Specialists walked us through the types of techniques and resources available to our organizations, such as charity lobbying, voter registration, grassroots mobilization, public relations management and coalition building. We also met with policy makers and governmental administrators, who gave us an idea as to how these kinds of processes play out at the highest level in the land. In fact, on the very last day of the conference, we had the exciting chance to speak with four congressmen: Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), Mike Honda (D-CA), and Ed Case (D-HI). It was a real honor being introduced to these accomplished, hard-working public servants.

On the whole, however, I’d have to say that, as valuable as the encounters with various experts and political heavyweights were, I benefited just as much by getting to know the other participants. I enjoyed chatting with them about the many pursuits and programs they are engaged with, and was curious to find out what different JACL and OCA chapters are up to across the country.

Given everything that we were exposed to at the conference, I would have to say that we should be all set to undertake my fortune cookie’s directive. I imagine that some of us have already begun, seeing as how we concluded the event back on March 16. Personally, I’ve been focusing on trying to apply what I gleaned from the discussions about coalition building and public relations management towards the problem of increasing youth involvement in JA community activities. I still have a lot to do, however, and this article is a way of ensuring that I stay on task by giving readers reason to remind us participants that we should continue seeking out opportunities to make use of the lessons we learned last month. As I said before, I don’t believe in omens, but now is most definitely a “good time to start something new.” It’s just important to keep in mind that fortune cookies don’t enact change—people do.

*Alec MacDonald attended the JACL/OCA DC Leadership Conference in 2004. For more information on how to apply for the 2009 JACL/OCA DC Leadership Conference, please contact Megumi Kaminaga ( or visit for official application form.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hyphen Magazine Issue #16 Release Happy Hour - 12/18

Our friends over at Hyphen Magazine are releasing their 16th issue in time for the holidays, and are having a happy hour to celebrate! Here are the details:

and Celebrate!

Ring in the holiday season with Hyphen at our #16 issue release happy hour!
Thursday, December 18th, 6 - 10pm

$5 - 10 sliding scale donation Sugar Cafe (679 Sutter St., San Francisco, CA)
Tacky holiday sweaters encouraged.
Eggnog & holiday drink specials!

*First 50 guests get a free copy of the new issue*
Subscribe that night and get four issues for $15 or eight for $25!

If you aren't already familiar with Hyphen, do yourselves a favor and check it out. Hyphen is an excellent print magazine covering Asian American culture and issues, with each issue chock-full of hip and insightful features and articles. Look them up at

Friday, December 5, 2008

Nakayoshi covered in AsianWeek

AsianWeek just published their article on Nakayoshi this morning. You can read the original article at

Young JA Professionals Bridging the Gap
December 5, 2008
New Bay Area group helps maintain connection to the Japanese American community

SAN FRANCISCO — On a beautiful Sunday afternoon in Japantown, a group of energetic twenty-somethings got together at the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California to set up the very first fundraising event for their emergent community group for young professionals called Nakayoshi.

Downstairs from the gymnasium where kids played basketball, past the Kimochi senior citizens bulletin board, the members of Nakayoshi were preparing activities for their own demographic, cheerfully busy cooking rice, slicing fish and setting up tables in anticipation of the start of Tabemasho! — a cooking class series. The first lesson: sushi.

Nakayoshi, which means circle of friendship, was the brainchild of 24-year-old Megumi Kaminaga of San Francisco. Kaminaga, who has served for several years as a youth representative of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), says she and her friends started the organization last January, meeting once a month in her living room.

From her work with the JACL, Kaminaga says she saw a need for a community group catering to young professionals who, once out of college, often lose that connection to the Japanese American community. “I thought, ‘there isn’t a space for young professionals in [JACL],’ ” Kaminaga said. “We decided to create Nakayoshi to try to redefine that space for myself and people my age.”

It turns out a lot of other young Asian Americans had the same desire to connect
with each other, their local community and with Japanese culture of the past and present. Starting with only seven members, Nakayoshi now maintains an online presence through Facebook and a blog and recently marked its one hundredth member.

Starting a new community organization has been no easy task, especially when asking for time from busy young adults. Graig Inaba, a Nakayoshi member and one of the teachers of the sushi-making class, noted the difficulty in gathering active members.

“Our generation is kind of hard to get out,” Inaba said. “We’re somewhat young, we’re starting our professional careers, and some of us are starting families, so it’s hard to get back into the community.”

One thing that seems to unite all young professionals, however, is meeting new people. According to co-founding member Emily Leach, “what we’ve found most successful has been putting on social events, so we have a pretty healthy mix of social events with the more political events that we do.”

Nakayoshi member Samantha Ho says the organization has inspired her to become more engaged in her community while allowing her to share her skills as a graphic designer, designing the group’s first brochure. “I get to promote them and help promote myself while being more active in the community in San Francisco,” Ho said.

Nakayoshi’s political activism grew naturally from the inspiration of its sponsor, the JACL, an Asian American civil rights organization headquartered in San Francisco. Nakayoshi supported the JACL’s opposition to California’s Prop 8 and enlisted volunteers to support APIA Vote’s Election Day voter-protection program.

Kaminaga notes that the JACL was one of the first organizations to publicly announce support for marriage equality. “I think a lot of [Asian Americans] are actually speaking out more,” she said. “We definitely have more groups out there who advocate for more issues, loudly, and clearly we’re not silent anymore.”

The support and inspiration from the JACL is one of many ways Nakayoshi reconnects young professionals with the Japanese American community. By exposing
young Asian Americans to the issues of importance within the Japanese American community, “this two-way dialogue gets to occur between the older generation and the up and coming young professionals,” explains Leach.

Leach’s mother, Jeanne, was in attendance at the sushi class and expressed her support for the group, saying, “It is important to continue their connection with the Japanese American community, because as time goes on, the connection becomes less and less strong, and this is a good way to keep those things alive.”

For more on Nakayoshi, go to
Written by Melissa Chin · Filed Under Bay Area

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Nakayoshi Monthly Update - December 2008

Happy Holidays from Nakayoshi!

We're switching the format of our updates to a monthly basis to keep all your inboxes from getting cluttered. December is generally a busy month for everyone with the holidays, so we're consolidating our events this month so that the Pregame Mixer/Warriors game will serve as this month's social event for Nakayoshi. Make sure you and your friends buy your tickets to the game if you haven't already!

Hope you all have a wonderful holiday season, and we'll see you next year (if not sooner)!

In this update (new events in bold):
12/6/08 - SF JACL Spaghetti Crabfeed Benefit
12/12/08 - Golden State Warriors Asian American Heritage Night
12/13/08 - Nakayoshi Monthly Meeting/Holiday Party
1/17/08 - Nighttime Ice Skating Social

Other Community Events:
12/7/08 - (r)evolutions - UC Berkeley Nikkei Student Union's 6th Annual Culture Show
12/13/08 - SF Japantown Cleanup

12/13/08 - REEL Nikkei Stories Workshop

Saturday, December 6th, 2008: SF JACL Spaghetti Crab Feed Benefit for Campaign for Jusitce: Redress Now for Japanese Latin American Internees

Just a reminder, Nakayoshi will be volunteering at the San Francisco JACL chapter's annual Spaghetti Crabfeed this Saturday. This year a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Campaign for Justice, an organization advocating for full redress to be awarded to Japanese who were taken from Latin America and placed in US internment camps during WWII. Volunteer shifts run all day, so let us know if you have a couple free hours and would like to help out. For those of you who just want to drop by to eat a delicious crab and spaghetti dinner, tickets are still available for $20/person. E-mail us at for tickets or to volunteer.

When: Saturday, December 6, 2008
Where: Christ United Presbyterian Church, 1700 Sutter Street (At intersection of Sutter and Laguna in SF Japantown), San Francisco, CA
Time: 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm (volunteer shifts start earlier and are available throughout the day)
Cost: $20/ticket, $10 for children under 12

Friday, December 12, 2008: Golden State Warriors Asian American Heritage Night

The pre-game mixer and the Warriors vs. Rockets game at the Oracle Arena will be this month's Nakayoshi social event, so make sure you're there! Remember, Nakayoshi will receive $5 for every ticket sold, so you know you'll be supporting a great organization at the same time! Tickets to the game also include a t-shirt and access to an exclusive pre-game mixer.

Purchase tickets at the special $40 rate for Nakayoshi online at Ticketmaster at and enter special offer code nakayoshi, then create an account or login with your existing Ticketmaster account to purchase tickets. Have questions? Contact Nakayoshi member Emily Leach at emily [dot] leach [at] gmail [dot] com for additional information.

When: Friday, December 12, 2008
Price: $40/ticket (purchase online
here, special offer code: nakayoshi).
Location: Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA
Time: 7:30 pm

Seating information:

24 seats in Section 221 Row 12

35 seats in Section 222 Rows 10-12

49 seats in Section 223 Rows 10-12

*All of the seats in the same sections are together

Saturday, December 13th, 2008: Nakayoshi Monthly Meeting/Holiday Party

Once again, due to the holidays, we're deviating from our usual practice of meeting on the last Sunday of the month. We've decided to mix things up a bit this month and have combined this month's Nakayoshi meeting with a holiday party for Nakayoshi committee members! Come discuss what we have coming up in the new year and enjoy the holiday spirit with Nakayoshi committee members after! The meeting and the holiday party following are still open to everyone, but please RSVP at if you are coming due to limited space.

When: Saturday, December 13, 2008
Time: 6:00pm-10:00pm
Location: Richmond District, San Francisco (RSVP for address)

Saturday, January 17th, 2009: Nighttime Ice Skating Social

Next month's social event will be nighttime ice skating in the city! Come with us to the Holiday Ice Rink (formerly known as the Kristi Yamaguchi Holiday Ice Rink) at the San Francisco Embarcadero Center as we practice our sit spins and triple axels, or more likely, cling to the walls and fall on our butts and totally eat it out on the ice. Hopefully we'll all be able to walk away without serious scrapes or bruises to hang out some more following the ice skating. For more details on the ice rink, click here. RSVP at

When: Saturday, January 17th, 2009
Time: 7:30 - 9:30pm
Location: Justin Herman Plaza, adjacent to Four Embarcadero Center/across from Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA
Price: $8.00/person plus $3.50 for skate rentals

Other Community Events:

Here are some other community events this month some Nakayoshi members are involved in. We encourage you to come out and support these events as well!

Sunday, December 7, 2008: (r)evolutions - UC Berkeley Nikkei Student Union's 6th Annual Culture Show
Come support UC Berkeley NSU's biggest event of the year! At Wheeler Hall, UC Berkeley campus. This year's show will feature UC Berkeley students in two short plays, issues monologues, as well as performances by Cal Taiko, and hip hop dance and Soran Bushi ( modernized Japanese cultural dance) sequences performed by Berkeley NSU members.Doors open at 6:30 pm, show starts at 7:00 pm. Tickets $7-10 sliding scale. More info at, or read our blog post about the event for more details.

Saturday, December 13, 2008: SF Japantown Cleanup with JACL and Japantown Task Force
National JACL and the Japantown Task Force are hosting a neighborhood cleanup service event, which starts at 9:00 am and will be followed by a focus group session at 12:00pm to kickstart Project Community, a summer program in development for high school students to reconnect with Japantown and explore concepts of identity, community, as well as how policy decisions are made and impact the neighborhood and community. For more information, contact Tim Koide at (415) 921-5445 or e-mail

Saturday, December 13, 2008: REEL Nikkei Stories Workshop
The REEL Nikkei Stories workshop will provide training for those interested in preserving family histories and the experiences of previous generations through video interviews. The workshop will be at the JCCCNC at 1840 Sutter Street in Japantown from 11:30am-2:30pm. For more information, contact Ali Kagawa at (415) 567-5505 or e-mail

All events are free and open to anyone unless otherwise noted. Feel free to forward this message along to your friends or anyone interested. Not on the Nakayoshi e-mail list? Click here to subscribe. Have questions? Want to sign up or RSVP for an event? E-mail Nakayoshi at: For additional information and updates, be sure to check the Nakayoshi blog at or find us on Facebook!

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Happy Thanksgiving everyone! We hope that today, you are all surrounded by loved ones and friends on this warm fall holiday. Looking back on on this past year, Nakayoshi has a lot to be thankful for and on this day, we recognize and are extremely grateful to those who have made this long road possible.

Over the past 10 months or so, Nakayoshi has been driven by it's mission to create a space for young professionals within the Japanese American community, inclusive to all those who aim to enrich both their life experiences and the greater API community through philanthropy or social activities. And with an amazing core group of individuals who have come together on a monthly basis, Nakayoshi has been able to put on some amazing volunteer and social opportunities.

And with the continual support from the JACL, the NCWNP District, and other community organizations around the Bay Area, we hope that Nakayoshi will continue to strive and be able to provide you with the latest and greatest opportunities to reconnect with community and give back.

We are truly thankful for all the support that we have received from our members over this past year and we hope that the experiences you've had have been memorable. It is only through your active involvement that Nakayoshi has had such a successful run of events and we hope that you will continue to grow with us over the coming years.

So on this beautiful day, take time to reflect on what you are thankful for. Be thankful for community. Be thankful for change. Be thankful.

Happy Holidays.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

(r)evolutions - 6th Annual UC Berkeley Nikkei Student Union Culture Show

Our friends (and some current/future Nakayoshi members!) at the UC Berkeley Nikkei Student Union are putting on (r)evolutions, their 6th annual Japanese American culture show at the UC Berkeley campus on the evening of December 7th at 7pm. This year's show will feature UC Berkeley students in two short plays, issues monologues, as well as performances by Cal Taiko, and hip hop dance and Soran Bushi ( modernized Japanese cultural dance) sequences performed by Berkeley NSU members. Contact Berkeley NSU President Katie Furukawa at ktkalifornia[at]gmail[dot]com or Co-Chairs Brian Jocson and Ryan Sadakane at nsucultureshow[at]gmail[dot]com for tickets ($7-10 sliding scale).

Having seen many culture shows put on by collegiate Nikkei organizations in previous years and having helped put a few together myself back in the day, I look forward every year to watching other young members of the community display their talents as well as convey their unique messages and perspectives on issues of community, culture and identity. I've been impressed the past couple years with the substance the creative minds in Berkeley NSU have been injecting into their culture shows. I expect no less from this year's performance. I really encourage everyone to come out and support all the hard work and dedication of these students as they put on arguably their biggest event of the year!

If you can't make it to this year's show, Berkeley NSU will also be offering a shortened performance of their show for the community this Sunday at the JCCCNC at 5pm, right after Nakayoshi's monthly meeting down the street!

Read Berkeley NSU's press release below for more event info:

( r ) e v o l u t i o n s


On Sunday, December 7th, 2008, UC Berkeley’s Nikkei Student Union (NSU) will be hosting its Sixth Annual Japanese American Culture Show: (r)evolutions!

NSU was founded six years ago as a student organization dedicated to increasing awareness ofJapanese American issues, as well as uniting students of Japanese ancestry and those interested in Japanese American culture. This year’s theme, “(r)evolutions” reflects the evolution of NSU and the greater Japanese American community from its humble beginnings and into the future. In addition, it reflects on the potential of Japanese American youth to revolutionize and revitalize the community.

Since its inception, NSU has experienced tremendous growth and is currently composed of students from a variety of backgrounds, each embracing their individual identities, perspectives and histories as members of the Japanese American community. Through its focus on community service, leadership and Japanese American issues, NSU has empowered many Japanese American youth to become involved in their communities and revitalize them. This year’s Culture Show serves to continue empowering Japanese American students through performance and strengthen the presence of our club within the UC Berkeley student community and the Japanese American community.

This year’s show features two student‐written short plays inspired by pertinent issues facing our community today. “Home,” written and directed by Lisa Yasutake, addresses the delicate balance Japanese Americans must face when addressing their Japanese and American identities. “Time Machi,” written by Ryan Sadakane and directed by Erin Ochi and David Oda, reflects upon the future of Japantown and the possible consequences the community may face should it be lost forever.

In realizing the theme, “Manifesto” will feature a set of monologues written and performed by members of NSU discussing their perspectives and manifestos reflecting the evolution of the Japanese American community and revolutionary potential as Japanese American youth. Furthermore, “(r)evolutions will feature UC Berkeley’s own taiko group Cal Taiko, a hip‐hop performance by NSU’s JCrew, and Soran Bushi, a modernized Japanese cultural dance.

Through the support of the community and fellow students, “(r)evolutions” is aiming a for a full house upon its debut on Sunday, December 7th, 2008. Doors will open at 6:30PM and general admission will have a sliding scale of $7 to $10.

For further information, questions and comments, please contact NSU’s Culture Show chairs, Brian Jocson and Ryan Sadakane, at

We look forward to putting on a great show this year, and we hope to see you there!

Brian Jocson and Ryan Sadakane
NSU Culture Show Chairs 2008‐2009

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Singles Mingle at Nakayoshi Gokon

Now we know all of you joined Nakayoshi because you want to do some good in the community right? Wait, you wanted to meet other (single) people too?

Don't worry, we get it. That's why Nakayoshi had our first Gokon last Thursday evening at Pisco Latin Lounge. Put together by Nakayoshi committee member Emily Leach, she and some of our fun (and very eligible) singles got to mix it up and get to know one another over some delicious drinks, appetizers and laughter.

For those of you unfamiliar, a Gokon is basically a kind of group blind date that's practiced in Japan these days. It'll typically be set up with a group of guy friends and a corresponding group of girls seated across from each other to hold conversations or play casual games to help ease nervousness and get people to meet new people in a relaxed environment.

We'd love to have more of you single people come out the next time we put a Gokon together. Come on now, don't be shy! You never know who you might meet, or learn about your new friends!

For those of you looking for another chance to go out with Nakayoshi for a fun night out, don't forget about our monthly mixer coming up this Friday night starting at Kilowatt in SF's Mission District! For any of you that want to get more involved and help us plan more social events or other activities, come on out to our meeting this Sunday in San Francisco Japantown. E-mail if you need more info. See you guys on Friday!


December 13, 2008
11:30am - 2:30pm
JCCCNC (1840 Sutter Street, SF)

Need the perfect personalized gift to give your family this holiday season? Join the REEL NIKKEI STORIES: A Nikkei Family Legacy Project workshop on December 13, and make your commitment to create a family legacy gift!

REEL NIKKEI STORIES is designed to engage young people to take an active role and empower them with the confidence, training and tools to interview, video document and share the untold stories of living relatives before their family histories are lost forever. Although many documentaries, books and oral histories have been produced to preserve and teach the Japanese American experience during World War II and in internment camps, your family’s personal story may still remain untold and undocumented. By interviewing and video documenting your elders’ stories, you will be able to start a dialogue in your family and learn first-hand accounts of the Japanese American experience.

This holiday season give the gift that matters most to your family and take this opportunity to capture your family history from your living relatives. For more information on how to create your family legacy project please contact Ali at 415-567-5505 or email

Monday, November 17, 2008

JACL Signs onto Prop 8 Amicus

This press release was sent this morning from NCWNP Regional Director Patty Wada.

For more information on how you can get involved in these issues, e-mail Nakayoshi at or contact the JACL NCWNP Regional Director Patty Wada via phone at (415) 345-1075 or e-mail

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) has joined the Anti-Defamation League, the Asian Law Caucus, Bet Tzedek Legal Services, and Public Counsel in submitting an amicus brief (friend of the court brief) in support of the Petition for Writ of Mandate in the case of Strauss, et al. v. Horton, et al.

The Writ requests that the California Supreme Court issue an order invalidating Proposition 8 in its entirety. Proposition 8 was passed by the voters on November 4th and added Section 7.5 to Article I of the California Constitution providing: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” The passage of Proposition 8 overruled portions of the In re Marriage Cases where the California Supreme Court held that statutes precluding same-sex marriage were unconstitutional and in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the California Constitution.

“The JACL supports the invalidation of Proposition 8 because it effectively eliminates the protections of the state’s Equal Protection Clause for same sex couples with regard to their fundamental right to marry,” said National President Larry Oda. “The JACL was among the first civil rights organizations in the nation to support marriage equality. We believe Proposition 8 sets a dangerous precedent by taking away from citizens the rights that have already been granted.”

In the past, JACL has been a strong supporter of marriage equality. In 1967, the JACL was an amici to the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Loving v. Virginia, the seminal case that struck down anti-miscegenation in 17 states. Since 1994, throughout the In re Marriage Cases of 2007-2008, and to the present, JACL has supported equal protection of the right to marry regardless of a person’s sexual orientation.

“The JACL has always worked for maintaining the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. Any union of a couple that is based on love, mutual respect, sacrifice, and lifetime commitment should be afforded the same legal rights and process regardless of what that union is called by institutions within our society,” said National Director Floyd Mori.

As amici, the JACL supports the Petitioners contention that the implications of an attempt to constitutionalize an overt denial of equal protection are profound and are not limited to gays, or to lesbians, or to marriage. The same process could effectively eliminate any and all protected rights under the state Constitution and no Californian should be denied state equal protection with regard to the fundamental right to marry.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Asian American Heritage Night with the Warriors and Nakayoshi!

Remember to get your tickets to Asian American Heritage Night with the Golden State Warriors through Nakayoshi! Not only do you get a great discount, but you also help us determine what is needed for a Japanese American Heritage Night. Helping us is good, Japanese American Heritage is good, watching the Warriors play b-ball is good... you get the idea.

Tickets are selling fast so the sooner you buy them the better.

Asian American Heritage Night
Friday, December 12th, 7:30 pm
Oracle Arena
Golden State Warriors vs. Houston Rockets

To purchase your tickets:
1. Click here and enter the code nakayoshi.
Create an account or login with your existing Ticketmaster account
3. Purchase tickets.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions! See you at the game!


The National Japanese American Citizens League issued the following press release today stating their continuing support for marriage equality. The fight is not over and both JACL and Nakayoshi will not stop until specific groups are no longer systematically marginalized in our society.

For more information on how you can get involved in these issues, e-mail Nakayoshi at or contact the JACL NCWNP Regional Director Patty Wada via phone at (415) 345-1075 or e-mail


San Francisco, CA - Following Tuesday’s election, the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) expressed concern over ballot initiatives in several states that denied equal rights to gays and lesbians.

California’s Proposition 8, Arizona’s Proposition 102 and Florida’s Amendment 2, all passed by the voters, denied to gays and lesbians the right to marriage equality. In Arkansas, voters also prohibited gay couples from adopting children by passing Initiative 1.

“The United States Constitution provides for equal treatment under the law to all of our citizens,” stated National JACL President Larry Oda. “No one group should be singled out for discrimination. We have not forgotten that as Asian Americans, we, too, were once the victims of marriage discrimination in this country. Racism was the motivating factor back then, and it is incumbent upon us to be vigilant and not allow homophobia to guide our laws today.”

The JACL, in 1994, was one of the first civil rights groups in the nation to affirm its support for marriage equality. The organization stated in a resolution that marriage equality “was a constitutional right that should not be denied because of a person’s sexual orientation.”

Lawsuits have been filed by the ACLU and the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office to block the implementation of Proposition 8 in California.

“We are deeply troubled by these initiatives, yet our resolve remains steadfast,” commented Ron Katsuyama, JACL Vice President for Public Affairs. “The JACL will explore what we can do to support these legal challenges. Who one chooses to love and marry should be an individual and personal choice, not one limited by illegal and discriminatory laws.”

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Nakayoshi Bi-weekly Update No. 3 - November 7, 2008

Hey kids, it's time for another update on Nakayoshi's upcoming events and activities in November! There are still a couple spots open for the Sushi-making class this Sunday as well as for the Nakayoshi Gokon dinner/mixer next Thursday for you single people, so e-mail us ASAP to RSVP. We also have another fun night out coming up on the 21st, this time to cruise around the Mission district in San Francisco. Don't forget to buy your tickets to the Warriors game on 12/12! Read below for details on all this and more. Hope we see you around this month!

In this update (new events in bold):
11/9/08 - Tabemasho! Nakayoshi Cooking Class Series: Sushi
11/13/08 - Nakayoshi Gokon (Singles Mixer)
11/21/08 - Monthly Social Mixer - SF Mission District
11/23/08 - Monthly Meeting
12/6/08 - SF JACL Spaghetti Crab Feed Benefit
12/12/08 Golden State Warriors Asian American Heritage Night

Sunday, November 9, 2008: Tabemasho! Nakayoshi Cooking Class Series - Food: Sushi

There are still a few open spots at our cooking class! Come on out this Sunday to learn the process of basic sushi-making, from preparing sushi rice to rolling techniques for that perfect and delicious hand roll! The class will be taught by Nakayoshi members Graig and Sean Inaba, with 12 years of professional experience of sushi-making instruction between the two of them. All materials and supplies will be provided by Nakayoshi. Space for this event is limited to the first 20 paid participants, so contact us ASAP to ensure a spot in the class! Price: $40 general public, $35 for JACL members (make checks payable to "NCWNP JACL")

Location: Japanese Cultural and Community Center of California (JCCCNC), Issei Memorial Hall, 1840 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA
Time: 1:30pm-4:30pm

Thursday, November 13, 2008: Nakayoshi Gokon (Singles Mixer)

There's still space for one more lucky lady and two single guys at the Nakayoshi Gokon! Come get to know other singles over food and drinks in a fun and relaxed setting. RSVP to (be sure to include any dietary limitations). Single folks only!

What: A Konpa or Gokon is a Japanese gathering over drinks and food and could be described as a group blind date.
When: Thursday, November 13th, 6:30 pm
Where: San Francisco's New
Pisco Latin Lounge (warning: website has embedded music) 1817 Market St. @ Octavia (map)
Why: Meet some new people and make some new friends (and potentially more!).
Cost: $20-$30 (price TBA) which will include food and drinks.

Friday, November 21, 2008: Nakayoshi Monthly Social Mixer - SF Mission District

If you missed out on last month's North Beach crawl, don't worry, we're doing it again! Bring your friends and join the rest of the Nakayoshi crew for another monthly nighttime prowl, this time in the Mission district in San Francisco! We'll be meeting at 9pm at Kilowatt on 16th Street, and move on to other spots and late-night burrito joints from there. The event is open to anyone 21+. E-mail if you're coming, have questions, or if requesting a particular place in the area for us to drop by.

Location: Start at Kilowatt 3160 16th Street (between Guerrero and Albion St.), San Francisco, CA map
16th Street BART Station nearby
Time: 9:00 pm

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008: Nakayoshi Monthly Meeting

Have ideas for fun activities Nakayoshi should be doing? Have a cause or issue you think we should get involved with? Come out and tell us at our next meeting! Please note the change in our usual meeting date/time this month, due to the Thanksgiving holiday. Meetings are usually held on the last Sunday of every month from 1:00pm-4:00pm at the National JACL Headquarters building in San Francisco Japantown.

Location: National JACL Headquarters, 1765 Sutter St., San Francisco, CA 94115 map
Time: 1:00pm-4:00pm

Saturday, December 6th, 2008: SF JACL Spaghetti Crab Feed Benefit for Campaign for Justice: Redress Now for Japanese Latin American Internees

Join Nakayoshi as we volunteer at the San Francisco JACL chapter's annual Spaghetti Crab Feed on Saturday, December 6th, 2008 from 5:00 to 8:00pm at the Christ United Presbyterian Church in Japantown. The SF JACL will be donating a portion of the proceeds to the Campaign for Justice, an organization committed to gaining redress to the remaining Japanese internees who were taken from Latin America and placed in US internment camps during WWII, but did not receive the full redress that other Japanese Americans internment camp internees received. Volunteers will assist with setup and cleanup of the event, as well as help prepare and serve food and drinks. Past beneficiaries from the SF JACL's annual Spaghetti Crabfeed include the American Friends Service Committee and the Nikkei Community Internship.

Don't feel like volunteering? You can still support by buying tickets to the event and having a delicious crab/spaghetti dinner for $20/person! E-mail us at if you're interested in volunteering or purchasing tickets. To learn more about the Campaign for Justice and the plight of Japanese Latin American internees, go to:

When: Saturday, December 6, 2008
Where: Christ United Presbyterian Church, 1700 Sutter Street (At intersection of Sutter and Laguna in SF Japantown), San Francisco, CA
Time: 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm (volunteer shifts start earlier and are available throughout the day)
Cost: $20/ticket, $10 for children under 12

Friday, December 12, 2008: Golden State Warriors Asian American Heritage Night

For all you ballers and fans out there, come watch an NBA game at the (ROAR)acle Arena as Yao Ming and the Houston Rockets step up to the Warriors for Asian American Heritage Night with the Golden State Warriors! Tickets to the Golden State Warriors Asian American Heritage Night will also include a commemorative t-shirt and access to an exclusive pre-game mixer! Nakayoshi will receive $5 for every ticket sold, so come out to support your team and Nakayoshi!

Purchase tickets at the special $40 rate for Nakayoshi online at Ticketmaster at and enter special offer code nakayoshi, then create an account or login with your existing Ticketmaster account to purchase tickets. Have questions? Contact Nakayoshi member Emily Leach at emily [dot] leach [at] gmail [dot] com for additional information.

Price: $40/ticket (purchase online here, special offer code: nakayoshi).
Location: Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA
Time: 7:30 pm

All events are free and open to anyone unless otherwise noted. Feel free to forward this message along to your friends or anyone interested. Not on the Nakayoshi e-mail list? Click here to subscribe. Have questions? Want to sign up or RSVP for an event? E-mail Nakayoshi at: For additional information and updates, be sure to check the Nakayoshi blog at or find us on Facebook!

SFGate: Gays and Asians, not so strange bedfellows

In the midst of the excitement I've observed (and felt!) around San Francisco from the election of Barack Obama, there is still a lot of remorse and frustration at the passing of Proposition 8. Although APIA's were seen to be one of the few ethnic minority groups that support same-sex marriage rights overall in polls, it didn't turn out to be enough to prevent Prop 8 from passing. You can be sure that we'll be keeping an eye out for actions to follow up and contest the passing of the proposition from our JACL district and other civil rights and community organizations. This fight isn't over yet, not even close.

As I've been reading through pre- and post-election analysis, I found a piece particularly relevant to our community and the struggle against Proposition 8. Here's Jeff Yang's interesting article in his AsianPop column in the SF Chronicle discussing similarites and relations between the Asian American and LGBT communities in our local politics. The article includes a huge nod to the JACL for being the first national civil rights organization to publicly support same-sex marriage rights.

The original article can be found on here:
Wednesday, November 5, 2008 (SF Gate)
Gays and Asians, not so strange bedfellows
By Jeff Yang, Special to SF Gate

With the 30th anniversary of Harvey Milk's death approaching and the impending release of a star-studded biopic commemorating the late San Francisco supervisor's life, Jeff Yang explores Milk's conviction that the Bay Area's queer and Asian-American communities were destined to find political common ground.

Michael Wong was flabbergasted. His friend and confidant, newly elected Supervisor Harvey Milk, had just declared his intention to endorse Wong's political nemesis, an old-school leader of the Chinatown machine. "Harvey, how could you do this?"

"You gotta look at the big picture, Michael," explained Milk. "If San Francisco's Asian and gay communities can just find a way to unite and work together, we'll hold all the cards. Give us 10 years, and we'll control politics in this city."

Wong left the conversation so incensed that he didn't speak to his friend for a month -- a silent treatment that ended just before November 27, 1978, when Milk and Mayor George Moscone were murdered at the hands of a political rival.

From the vantage point of three decades of hindsight, Wong acknowledges Milk's position as coolly pragmatic - and, in retrospect, absolutely correct. "Harvey was brilliant, and as usual, way ahead of his time. Because back then, in the Seventies, Asian Americans weren't yet voting in droves. But by the late Eighties, if you had a Chinese last name and were running for lower office in the city, chances are you were a lock to get elected."

Two Tribes
What Harvey Milk had predicted was the convergence of two potent demographic trends. Asian Americans are now well over a third of San Francisco's population, and between 20 and 25 percent of its electorate. Self-identified lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered individuals, meanwhile, make up about 13 percent of the city's population and between 15 and 20 percent of its registered voters. Both groups, and the overlap between them, continue to grow -- making up what might well be an invincible electoral bloc, if the two could only make common cause.

But over the past three decades, building that political bridge between the two communities has proven to be more of a challenge than Milk anticipated. San Francisco's LGBT electorate is the most reliably Democratic segment of a quintessentially Blue municipality; meanwhile, Bay Area Asian-American voters have followed national trends, splitting their party affiliation in enigmatic fashion - with about 45 percent registered as Democrats, and up to 40 percent claiming independent or nonpartisan status. On the issues, bread-and-butter Asian-American concerns like immigration and education tend to be low on the list of priorities for gay voters, while conventional wisdom has generally held that Asians skew conservative on social matters, particularly gay rights.

Which makes it all the more striking that, in the first-ever comprehensive poll of Asian American voters, the Rutgers/UC-Riverside sponsored National Asian American Survey, an overwhelming percentage of Asian Americans, 57 percent to 32 percent, rejected bans on same-sex marriage. In fact, Asians are the only ethnic voting group who've shown a clear and consistent majority against Proposition 8, the referendum that would prevent gays and lesbians from marrying in the state of California; results of the final Field Poll released on the eve of Tuesday's election indicated that 51% of Asians intended to vote "No" on 8, versus 48% of Latinos and just 43% of African Americans.

Wed to Rights
That Asian Americans have become a critical swing vote on gay marriage rights may upend conventional wisdom, but it doesn't surprise organizers. "Our community has looked at this issue in the context of 125 years of California history," says Tawal Panyacosit, director of the San Francisco marriage rights group API Equality. "We think about the Chinese Exclusion Act, which barred Chinese immigrants from bringing their wives to join them in the U.S. We think of antimiscegenation laws that specifically banned intermarriage with Asians. For us, this is a civil rights issue, not a moral one."

Many gay Asian activists question the conventional notion that Asian Americans are less tolerant of homosexuality than their general market peers. "This isn't to say that homophobia isn't a problem in our communities, but many Asians see it more as an issue of privacy than anything else," says Gay Asian Pacific Alliance co-chair Raphael Buencamino. "This is a group that's culturally uncomfortable with any open display of sexuality" - gay or straight. "They may embrace their gay family members, they may be fine with things on a personal basis, but they just don't want to discuss these matters in public. And unfortunately, that gets depicted in the media as intolerance."

Eric Wat, Los Angeles-based author of "The Making of a Gay Asian Community," agrees that such generalized portrayals are dangerous. " First-generation Asian immigrants may say, 'Oh, there was no such thing as homosexuality when I grew up,' but when you press them on the issue, they'll admit they had an uncle who wasn't married and that everyone understood to be gay. When my friend Alice Hom was doing research on parents of Asian-American LGBT men and women, she told me she ran into mothers of Asian lesbians who'd privately tell her things like, 'If there'd been an opportunity to openly express this way back home, life might have been different for me, too.'"

Same Difference
But the potential shared space between the gay and Asian-American communities extends beyond a shared interest in defending matrimony. For one, there's the structural similarity between the two groups. "APIs and LGBTs are both communities that are finding ways to come together politically despite the huge amount of diversity among their members," says API Equality's Panyacosit. "Asian Americans encompass 20 distinct ethnic groups and dozens of languages," while the cultural differences between gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered individuals present a similar challenge to queer identity. ("We have a social divide that means we have to work harder," admits Buencamino. "I mean, gays and lesbians aren't an integrated community; it's not like we're hanging out at the same clubs.")

And many of the individuals working hard to forge political agendas within the Asian and gay communities belong to both groups: Openly gay Asian Americans have emerged as key leaders and organizers in issues ranging from immigration reform to the fight against AIDS - and bringing their straight and non-Asian allies together in the process.

"If you go all the way back to 1994, you'll see that the Japanese American Citizens League was the first national civil rights organization to publicly endorse same-sex marriage rights," says Wat. "And the reason is that many JACL leaders and active members in places like Southern California were out gays and lesbians. They had strong relationships with straight allies in the organization, and they were able to make the case to them that this was an issue the JACL needed to support."

It's something that would have delighted Harvey Milk, who relished his public role as a gay icon but privately asserted the critical need to build political ties with straight colleagues and constituencies. Reached shortly after watching Gus Van Sant's celebrity-studded cinematic biography "Milk," an audibly shaken Michael Wong reiterates his belief that had his friend survived, he would have risen to unpredictable heights.

"People think of him now as Harvey the legend, but I was fortunate to know him as Harvey the practical politician," says Wong. "He would have built that coalition, and who knows where he could have gone. Before Harvey was killed, he'd made a list four people he thought could carry on his work if he died, and one of them was Harry Britt. And do you know what? In 1984, my father, who was a big supporter of Ronald Reagan, told me, 'I'm voting for the gay boy.' That's what my father called Harry Britt -- 'The gay boy.' But he told me he'd become convinced that the 'gay boy' was good for the Chinese. I was floored. I absolutely believe Harvey would have been mayor of San Francisco. And because he was the kind of politician that believed in sharing power, he would have opened doors for other groups too -- brought the outsiders in: blacks, Asians, you name it. We would have a very different political landscape today. Very different."

Jeff Yang forecasts global consumer trends for the market-research company Iconoculture( He is the author of "Once Upon a Time in China: A Guide to the Cinemas of Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mainland China," co-author of "I Am Jackie Chan: My Life in Action" and "Eastern Standard Time," and editor of the forthcoming "Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology" ( He lives in New York City. Go to to join INSTANT YANG, Jeff Yang's biweekly mailing list offering updates on this column and alerts about other breaking Asian / Asian American pop-culture news, or connect with him on Facebook:, LinkedIn:, or Twitter:

Copyright 2008 SF Gate

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Get out there and Vote!

The day has finally arrived. Today is the day where your voice, your vote, will be counted to decide who will lead our country over the next 4 years, and so much more. Having witnessed one of the most exciting and captivating political races this country has ever seen, for the past two years since the Presidential campaigns have kicked off, this country has definitely awakened to the challenge to vote and be heard.

With record breaking numbers already seen in early voting, numbers are estimated to be even higher at today's polls. Even more exciting, we've been seeing a lot of press on how segments of the APIA community will have a noticable effect on election results around the nation. With this election, we may see the Asian American vote become recognized as a substantial voting bloc that the major parties and politicians will absolutely need to engage effectively in future elections. In addition, with his family ties, there have been some musings around the blogosphere and press on how Obama may indirectly become the first Asian American President. This has got to be the most exciting and important election to be an Asian American voter to date.

Even with all the hubbub surrounding the race for the White House, there are even more reasons why your voice needs to be heard today. Among the many propositions on the ballot today, the basic civil right of our LGBT friends and family members to marry is being threatened in our state. Today may very well be a day that sees the culmination of progress in civil rights bridging multiple communities.

There are so many reasons to get out there to vote today. Don't miss out on your chance to be a participant in what will undoubtedly be a watershed moment for this nation.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Spotlight #6 - Emily Leach

Full Name: Emily Yukiko Leach
Age: 26
Profession: Formerly Interactive Marketing, Transitioning to Nursing
A Few of My Favorite Things: Planetariums, Rainy Weather, Audrey Hepburn, Pembroke Welsh Corgis, Zombie Contingency Plans, Japanese Dramas and Naps
Power Animal: The Sqwerl

Now it's my turn to apologize for taking so long to put my piece on the blog. Or, perhaps I should congratulate myself on my excellent procrastination skillz.

I came to Nakayoshi by way of invitation from Megumi. I am not now nor have I ever been a member of the JACL. That is not to say that the JACL isn't a wonderful organization – it really is, and it holds a great role in the history of the Japanese American community. I certainly recognize its continuing contribution and importance. I'm happy to be involved in Nakayoshi because there are not many organizations available for young JA's of my demographic. Nakayoshi is also the most inclusive JA organization I have seen.

My relationship and upbringing in the Japanese American community is a little different, but more common now-a-days. I am Hapa, a Japanese American of multiracial descent, specifically Japanese, Irish, English, Argentinian and host of other ethnicities my dad occasionally (and seemingly arbitrarily) reveals. Although I am aware of the current debate over the appropriation of the word Hapa from its Native Hawaiian origins, and I don't have any other words to describe my identity and I take a little leeway in using the term because of the fluidity of language and all. If anyone objects, I can totally appreciate that. Please leave your thoughts in the comments.

I was born and raised in San Francisco. On my father's side I am a 5th generation San Franciscan. My mother was born en route to the Jerome, AK camp and eventually returned to Fresno with the rest of her family. She was the lone black sheep of her generation to leave the farming town and move to the big city, where she met my dad. At the time (and to some extent, still today), the San Francisco Japanese American community was very insular and hard to penetrate, so I was raised with some distance to the community. The Japanese aspects of my upbringing consisted mostly of my mother's friends, family and food. My father also coached in the J-basketball leagues. This amalgam of experiences formed the backbone of my heritage.

I was also raised in a time when many prominent JA's scapegoated “out-marriage” as the cause of the downturn of the community, with mixed children like me embodying that collapse. That exclusive rhetoric shaped my relationship to the community, and not surprisingly by college all my Japanese American friends were also Hapa. My activism began as a first year at UC San Diego in our Hapa Club (our branch of Hapa Issues Forum, that link is from 2002 and you can see some circa 2002 photos of me on there), where I eventually became President in my second year, going on to represent UCSD at national multiracial conferences, raising awareness of multiracial issues and encouraging inclusivity in our local Asian American organizations.

My position in the multiracial activist world enabled me to work on multiple transborder and intercultural platforms. I studied human trafficking around the Pacific Rim, worked with an NPO and sex workers in Thailand and as a Hapa, paid particular close attention to the close relationships between the US Military and Amerasians. I also held the position of Student Affirmative Action Committee (SAAC) Chair at UCSD – a completely under-appreciated position and I give mad props to whoever is holding it down – meaning I represented and organized the school's small but strong coalition of underserved students.

And then, I burned out. I've been taking a break from major organizing but I still enjoy contributing to community dialogue and volunteering at events. I believe the JA community views and treats its multiracial members from an educated perspective with more respect now than when I was growing up. However, I still believe a lot of work needs to be done in order to fully embrace Japanese of mixed descent into the community, and the same could be said of getting youth involved in the community. I've found that as an adult much more of my activism has been focused on the JA community. You may also see my writings in Asianweek every now and then.

Anywho, this post has been rather serious. If you get to know me you'll find that I'm a lazy but open-minded lady. I'm slow to judge people and my ideal is to lead a happy-go-lucky lifestyle. Yoroshiku ne!

Get Involved: NJAHS Day Of Remembrance 2009

Nakayoshi received an email notification that the National Japanese American Historical Society (NJAHS) is having their first Planning Session for their Day of Remembrance 2009 this Sunday. If you can and want to get more involved, stop on by or contact Executive Director Rosalyn Tonai at for more information.

Planning Session for Day of Remembrance 2009 Program:

When: Sunday, November 2nd
Time: 1:00 pm - 2:00 PM
Where: NJAHS
1684 Post Street
San Francisco, CA 94115-3604

Send RSVP to: NJAHS Executive Director Rosalyn Tonai at

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

APIA Vote Wants Your Help Protecting Voter's Rights

Our friends at APIA Vote need your help, if you're available and want to be more involved, check out the opportunities they're offering!

Immediate action needed if you're interested, so check it out or pass it along to people who may be interested.

Are you a California Attorney, Law Student, and/or Volunteer Looking to help protect voters' rights on November 4?

Volunteer to do Voter Protection in NEVADA w/ APIAVote!

APIAVote is working in coalition with the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund and the AFL-CIO Voter Protection program in Las Vegas to ensure that AAPIs are treated fairly on Election Day and have the opportunity to voice their preferences and concerns.

You will monitor poll sites for compliance with the Voting Rights Act and the Help America Vote Act. Volunteer attorneys check to see whether Asian-language voting assistance is provided (such as ballots, interpreters, signs and voting materials), whether voter identification requirements are implemented in a non-discriminatory manner, and whether provisional ballots are offered to voters whose names are not in voter lists.

TRAINING will be held at the following location and times:

When: Monday, November 3 at 2 PM, 4 PM and 6 PM
Where: Laborers Local 872- Suite 101, 4201 East Bonanza

HEADQUARTERS on Election Day:
Where: Laborers Local 872 -Suite 330, 4201 East Bonanza

TO SIGN UP OR FIND OUT MORE: Please email Kathleen at or call 301-704-0536.

Interested in volunteering in other states? Please go to for a full list of polling sites nationwide.