By AKI FUKUHARA-VAUGHN
Approximately 70 members of the Nanka Yamaguchi Kenjinkai (NYK) gathered at the Quiet Cannon in Montebello on Jan. 25 to officially ring in the new year.
The day was unusually warm and guests were welcomed into a colorfully decorated banquet room with multi-colored azaleas generously donated by San Gabriel Nursery.
Emcee Aki Fukuhara-Vaughn welcomed everyone and introduced outgoing club president,Richard Fukuhara, who delivered “Happy New Year” greetings to all and announced the 2015 slate of officers.
The general membership approved the officers and the following were elected: Arturo Yoshimoto, president; Aki Fukuhara-Vaughn, secretary; and Naomi Suenaka-Derr, treasurer.
Before lunch was served, glasses were raised and Reijin Fujita led everyone in a kampai toast, and Rev. Kiyoshi Igawa delivered the invocation.
After lunch, karaoke master of ceremonies Patrick Seki introduced talented singers: Yasuko Katayama, Yoshiko Kishimoto, Ayako Fujita, Reijin Fujita, Henry Yasuda, Norie Furuya, and Kiyoshi Igawa.
In addition, Aki Fukuhara-Vaughn, Dana Okamoto, Kenny Okamoto, Elsie Myers and Fusako Thompson led everyone in a group singing of “Sukiyaki.” Twelve-year-old Kenny was exceptional on his whistling solo.
Special entertainment featured NYK member Sensei William Ford, who gave a karate demonstration with two Japanese farmer sickles. A huge sigh of relief could be heard when he finished without a single scratch. He then presented NYK with the 2014 Martial Arts History Museum book “Honors.” William received the Martial Arts Honors Award in 2014, and his photo graces the cover of the book. (For more information on Sensei Ford or to contact him, please visit his website: Kaizendojo.com.)
Past president and board advisor Arlene Nakamura presented outgoing president Richard Fukuhara with an elegant clock from Miki Seki Jewelers engraved, “With appreciation for outstanding service as president.”
The highlight of the annual New Year’s luncheon is the honoring of members 80 years of age or more, and 21 members were gifted with beautifully decorated pagodas filled with treats. Kudos to the husband-and-wife team Steven and Millie Tani for creating the beautiful gifts.
Arlene Nakamura and Richard Fukuhara then presented “2014 Year in Review” slide show that chronicled the past year’s events. Most notable were the first-place 2014 Tanabata Festival Award won by NYK in the Kenjinkai Division and the first-place trophy that was won by the NYK team at the Nanka Kyogikai Bowling Tournament in November.
Special announcements were made about the upcoming picnic to be held in Elysian Park on Sunday, June 14, and the fourth Yamaguchi World Grand Meeting, to be held in Los Angeles on Nov. 13 and 14, where Nanka Yamaguchi Kenjinkai will be hosting the governor of Yamaguchi and delegates from Japan, Brazil, Peru and Mexico.
Bingo games and raffle prizes closed out the day and the luncheon ended with good wishes to everyone for a happy 2015.