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!