Nihonmachi Run Canceled; Health Fair to Remain

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SAN JOSE — The Yu-Ai Kai (Japanese American Community Senior Service) Board of Directors has canceled this year’s Nihonmachi Run, traditionally held on the morning of the Nikkei Matsuri in San Jose’s Japantown.

Citing rising costs of running the event, and lack of time to re-route the course, the board voted not to hold the three-mile fun run/walk. Anticipated cost increases of over $5,000 were primarily due to the San Jose Police Department’s requirements for traffic control, security and safety measures related to street closures along the course, which begins and ends in front of the Yu-Ai Kai building on 4th and Jackson streets.

Scene from a previous Nihonmachi Run.

Dismayed but not defeated, the Run Committee, chaired by Doug Ray, is still pursuing ways to work with the SJPD and bring the run back next year.

“We are terribly disappointed to cancel the run as this is not just a fundraiser for Yu-Ai Kai, but also a tradition for many families — and for many generations,” said Ray. “Babies are pushed in their strollers, kids run the course with their friends, and grow up, bringing their own kids back to this event.

“I will work with the City of San Jose and the San Jose Police Department to develop an approved route and operational plan that we can use in making arrangements for the run in 2013.”

Originally an 8K event, the run was shortened to attract more families instead of professional runners. In addition to male and female winners in age categories from 12 and under to 70 and over, prizes are given out for largest family group and best costume. Dogs are also permitted to participate.

The run was canceled once before in 1992, when Bay Area police were preparing for possible civil disturbances following the Rodney King verdict.

The event has raised over $9,000 each year for senior services at Yu-Ai Kai. “There is a financial impact that we need to address,” said Executive Director Sophie Horiuchi-Forrester. “Canceling this event means we need to find another way to raise funds to support the agency.”

“We appreciate the hard work the Run Committee has put forth in trying to make the run happen for us this year, and it is with heavy heart that the board has made this decision,” said Yu-Ai Kai President Ben Katai. “We hope that with perhaps an underwriter and sponsorship, as well as a new route, we can bring this special event back to the community.”

Yu-Ai Kai’s Health Fair, traditionally held on the morning of the Nihonmachi Run, will take place as scheduled on Sunday, April 29, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Akiyama Wellness Center, 110 Jackson St. in Japantown.

“The Health Fair will feature many familiar and new health service providers, as well as health screenings provided by the Japantown Lions Club’s A.J. Robinson Health Screening Van,” said Margaret Tomita, chair of this year’s Health Fair.

For more information on Yu-Ai Kai’s programs, visit www.yuaikai.org.

The Nikkei Matsuri will be held on April 29 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Japantown. For more information, visit www.nikkeimatsuri.org.

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