Gardena Pioneer Project Celebrates New Year

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Fujima Kansuyu (Susie Ito) portrays Okane in the dance "Omi no Okane" at the Gardena Pioneer Project New Year's Luncheon. She is Fujima Kansubai (Jeanne Ideno) and Fujima Kansuou (Joanne Yamahata) who portray fishermen.

Fujima Kansuyu (Susie Ito) portrays Okane in the dance “Omi no Okane” at the Gardena Pioneer Project New Year’s Luncheon. She is pictured with Fujima Kansubai (Jeanne Ideno) and Fujima Kansuou (Joanne Yamahata), who portray fishermen.

GARDENA — On Feb. 9, the Gardena Pioneer Project (GPP) celebrated the new year with a festive luncheon at the Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute.

While 300 senior citizen members enjoyed a delicious obento lunch, they were entertained by the lively Hawaiian music of the Kaleponi Nei; the melodic singing of Russell Nakaoka; a wonderful magic act by Bill Yamane; and a beautiful dance performance by the Fujima Kansuma Kai dance troupe.

Fujima Kansumi (Ann Yoshihara) and Fujima Kansue (Betsy Tango) perform the "Shamisen Boogie Woogie"

Fujima Kansumi (Ann Yoshihara) and Fujima Kansue (Betsy Tango) perform the “Shamisen Boogie Woogie.”

All who attended were given free door prizes. And, thanks to generous donations from many local merchants and community members, there were hundreds of special door prizes.

In addition to its annual New Year’s and Christmas parties, the GPP has been serving Japanese American senior citizens of the South Bay area for more than 44 years by providing educational, social and recreational activities, including health and legal educational seminars and monthly field trips and luncheons.

Currently, the following activities are planned: On April 14, there will be a field trip to the Gardens of the World in Thousand Oaks and then on to America’s Teaching Zoo at Moorpark College. On Aug. 16, the group will take a busload to see “Phantom of the Opera” at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa. The GPP will also be hosting a health information day in May, the topic and date to be determined.

The GPP is a non-profit community service organization and all of its activities are planned and coordinated by volunteers. While GPP’s health days and law days are open to the public and do not require membership, anyone interested in participating in the various field trips and luncheons is invited to become a member.

Membership is open to senior citizens over the age of 65; annual dues are $20 for singles and $30 for married couples, which essentially covers the cost of printing and mailing of the various event flyers. The group also welcomes anyone wishing to become a volunteer.

For further information, contact Karen Uyekawa at (213) 894-3235.

Okane is a sarashime (cloth bleaching girl) who lives on the shores of Lake Biwa, Japan. Famed for her strength, Okane is shown stopping a runaway horse with one hand while holding a bucket with the other. The horse is performed by Fujima Kansusumi (Dr. Sumi Kawaratani) and Peter Lai.

Okane is a sarashime (cloth bleaching girl) who lives on the shores of Lake Biwa. Famed for her strength, Okane is shown stopping a runaway horse with one hand while holding a bucket with the other. The horse is performed by Fujima Kansusumi (Dr. Sumi Kawaratani) and Peter Lai.

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