Wednesday, September 24, 2008

September General Monthly Meeting - Sunday, Sept. 28th

It's that time of the month again! Nakayoshi is having their general monthly meeting this coming Sunday @ the SF JACL Headquarter building.

General meetings are used to plan and brainstorm upcoming events, socials and volunteer activities. For the next few months, Nakayoshi has a few projects up their sleeve, so come out and give us your input and be part of our planning process.

Snacks are provided and details are seen below, hope to see you there! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at

Don't forget about our Karaoke Social Event the day before (Saturday Sept. 27th) @ Gamba Karaoke Box @ 8:30 PM (meet in SF Jtown Peace Plaza @ 7:30 pm if you need a ride!)

Gamba Karaoke Box
10990 N. Blaney
Cupertino, CA 95014

Monday, September 22, 2008

National AIDS Memorial Grove Volunteer Appreciation Day

On Saturday, September 20th, Nakayoshi members joined the San Francisco JACL Chapter in volunteering at the National AIDS Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park to plant over a thousand donated plants (a variety of grasses and lavender) on their Volunteer Appreciation Day.

Gray and overcast, it was a typical San Francisco morning when Nakayoshi members found themselves at the sign in table at the Grove's work day. Thinking we were going to be picking up trash all day, many of us were puzzled when were were handed gardening gloves.

Following the volunteer coordinator down a dirt covered stairway, we found ourselves in an open field of lush green carpet and a hillside sprinkled with potted plants set meticulously in sections marked by colored flags. We were instructed to help dig holes for the new plants and safely plant them into the ground.

With such a great turnout of volunteers, the entire plotted garden was done in a little over 3 hours.

The staff then took us within the "circle of friends", and asked first time volunteers to assist in the planting of a new magnolia tree in appreciation of all of the Grove's volunteers.

Sitting there, I grew to appreciate the beauty of such a communal sanctuary where people could come, reflect, mourn and heal. It also made me appreciate the hard work of community volunteers who come on a regular basis to retain the Grove's beauty.

The National AIDS Memorial Grove is truly a special place in San Francisco, with a history that began with a community that was devastated by the AIDS epidemic and found a way to build a space where they could find peace and serenity. The Grove is a place dedicated to all who were affected by AIDS. A historical monument that was established in 1966 when Congress and the President approved the National AIDS Memorial Grove Act.

The true beauty of the Grove is the love and dedication of all those who believe in the space and continue to support it.

It's great to know that we'll be able to return to the Grove year after year and see the difference it made to plant these new flowers. To see the tree we planted together grow stronger and taller, and remember that we were fortunate to be part of resting its roots.

We really had a great time volunteering at the Grove and appreciate the SF JACL Chapter for allowing us to join them and commend them on their continual participation in this annual event.

Getting down and dirty was a lot of fun, and how did we end such a perfect day? In full Nakayoshi style, we treated ourselves to delicious bowls of ramen! Yum!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"Salute to a Vision" JCCCNC Annual Event Recap

Nakayoshi members suited up last Saturday night to volunteer at the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of California's annual fundraiser at the Westin St. Francis Hotel in Union Square in San Francisco. The event, titled "Salute to a Vision," commemmorated the 35th anniversary of the community center in Japantown, and featured a roast/toast to the 20 years of service and work the center's Executive Director, Paul Osaki, has given to the JCCCNC and the community.

The event was attended by hundreds of members of the community as well as several very prominent figures, including Senator Daniel K. Inouye, Congressman Mike Honda, CA State Assemblymember Warren Furutani, San Francisco Consul General of Japan Yasumasa Nagamine, TV broadcasters Wendy Tokuda and Jan Yanehiro, civil rights attorney Dale Minami, and everyone's favorite Olympic Gold Medalist and celebrity dancing champion, Kristi Yamaguchi!

Nakayoshi volunteers teamed up with other volunteers from the Northern California Cherry Blossom Queen Program, Asian Americans for Community Outreach and the UC Berkeley Nikkei Student Union to help raise $5,760 in the JCCCNC's sweepstakes fundraiser, with a total of $22,760 being raised from the sweepstakes ticket sales alone. The JCCCNC also raised additional funds with their silent auction as well as the live auction, with some of the bidding going for over $10,000 for an item! Crazy!

The roasting of Paul Osaki was pretty funny, if not slightly awkward, with embarrassing stories and good-humored jabs being thrown out to the audience. Not to be outdone, Paul fired back when it was his turn to speak, including some jokes at the expense of the old Nisei and his own mother. The night was definitely filled with a lot of laughter, close ties and good memories. I know I'm not alone when I say this, but looking at how much the JCCCNC and its staff has done for the community and the role it has played in so many lives, you can't help but feel appreciative for being able to take part in an event like this. On a personal level, the JCCCNC has always been one of the most welcoming community spaces in the JA community I've been to, and has provided me with countless opportunities to connect with Japantown and all the people who make it the special place that it is. As was mentioned during the night's program, the Center really has become the heart of Japantown.

You can be sure that Nakayoshi will be doing more with the JCCCNC in the future. Before we forget, a big thanks to Ken Maeshiro and Ali Kagawa of the JCCCNC staff for coordinating volunteers for the event! The next Nakayoshi event will be another volunteer service event this Saturday, September 20th from 9am to 1pm to help clean up the National AIDS Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park with the San Francisco chapter of the JACL. Hope we see you there!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September Events

Wow… September is a pretty busy month for Nakayoshi! Those of you in our Facebook group have been sent invitations to our events, but for everyone else, here’s what we have going on:

9/13/08: Volunteering at JCCCNC’s Annual Event, “Salute to a Vision”

Nakayoshi will be joining other volunteers at the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California’s annual fundraising event on Saturday, September 13th at the Westin St. Francis Hotel in Union Square, San Francisco. The event will commemorate the JCCCNC’s Executive Director Paul Osaki for his 30 years of service to the community and 20 years as a leader at the JCCCNC. Unfortunately we have already finalized our list of volunteers for the event. Thank you very much for everyone who is volunteering! We’ll see you on Saturday!

9/20/08: National AIDS Memorial Grove Cleanup

Join Nakayoshi and the San Francisco chapter of the JACL as we help clean up the National AIDS Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park on Saturday, September 20th from 9:00am to 1:00pm.

The AIDS Memorial Grove is located at the intersection of Bowling Green and Middle Drive East. Make sure you come in clothes you don’t mind getting a little dirty! Please RSVP at to let us know if you’re coming.

More information on the National AIDS Memorial Grove, including directions, is available at:

9/20/08: Oakland A’s Japanese Heritage Day

Are you a baseball fan? Watch Kurt Suzuki and the Oakand A's play against Ichiro Suzuki and Kenji Johjima of the Seattle Mariners as they celebrate Japanese Heritage Day. On-field pre-game including traditional taiko drummers and the San Francisco 2008 Cherry Blossom Queen. Tickets are $30 each. $6 for each sold ticket will benefit Japanese American communities, youth baseball, bay area Parks and Recreation and Education. Game time is 1:05pm.

Due to low response from our members, Nakayoshi will not be attending the game. If you still are interested in going to the game on your own, you have until Friday, September 12th to order your tickets. Ticket order forms for the game can be downloaded from the JCCCNC here.

9/27/08: Karaoke Social at Gamba in Cupertino

Karaoke… I heard somewhere that it means tone-deaf in Japanese. But then I looked it up and Wikipedia tells me that it means “empty orchestra.” Who knew? In any case, if you love to sing and are looking for a fun night out, come with Nakayoshi to Gamba in Cupertino on Saturday, September 27th at 8:30pm. You will definitely: a) be amazed by how talented some of your fellow Nakayoshi members are; b) woo that Nakayoshi hottie with your smoldering rendition of the cheesiest love ballad you know; or c) look back on the experience years later, laugh awkwardly and hope nobody else really remembers how you just missed those high notes.

Time/Date: 8:30pm, Saturday 9/27/08
Location: Gamba
10990 N. Blaney, Cupertino, CA 95014
In Oakmont Square (On Homestead Rd., between De Anza and Wolf)

Let us know if you are interested in carpooling.

We’ll see you guys out there!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Spice'n It Up: A Night @ the Asian Art Museum of SF

On September 4th, some of the Nakayoshi members found themselves at the Asian Art Museum for their MATCHA event series. The night's theme: Tea & Spice.

If you haven't visited the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, definitely add it to your list of "to do's".

It's one amazingly beautiful venue, with cascading stairways, stone pillars, and fascinating artifacts.
Intrigued by the idea of sampling teas all night long, we all had a lot of fun going through the various stations the museum had set up. One room contained an erected Tea Temple filled with pillow pads and lacquered tables, with trays of various types of oolong teas.

Stations out in the veranda were stocked with different teas, colored pots and servers who were full of information as to how to brew and strain their particular teas or how they were grown and harvested.

It was definitely fun to taste all of the tea flavors and spices. And what was probably the most entertaining and interactive was the opportunity to create your own tea spice mixture.

With two table stations stocked with various spices ranging from nutmeg, black tea, and cloves to cardamon and cinnamon, you would pour however much you wanted of whatever spice into your own saucer, then take a turn at the bowl and pestle to grind your spices into a fine tea powder.

The end product: leaving with your own soothing bag of tea. Mine is making my cubicle at work smell absolutely wonderful!

So check out the events that are taking place @ the AA Museum, next month's theme is Japanese Tattoos!

You can also take a look at their photos, you may see some familiar faces!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

spotlight #4 - Graig Hitoshi Inaba

Name: Graig Hitoshi Inaba
Age: 27
Profession: Pharmacy Technician
Favorite Karaoke Song: Jackson 5's "I Want You Back"

Growing up in Sacramento California, I was the neighborhood kid on the corner. I have so many good memories and experiences as I have evolved from the energetic little boy sitting on the curb eating his onigiri to the enthusiastic young professional of now.
I grew up with many different organizations and activities under the watchful eyes and under the strong wings of the generations before. I owe my life's happiness to the kind-hearted people around me from both past and present. It's only fitting that Nakayoshi factors in my progression.
Through Nakayoshi, we can build upon the foundation that JACL has set, while at the same time, showing the gratitude and respect for the culture of our Japanese heritage. On a more personal note, Nakayoshi radiates with that "home town" feeling when the members are together. Though I am beginning the prime years of my life, I still get that feeling of innocent fun that I used to have as a little boy. That joy and happiness is not there because of any specific effort. It finds you when you appreciate the time with your friends, family and community.