KRAFTY KORNER: The Way to San Jose


San Jose Taiko’s artistic director PJ Hirabayashi and Franco Imperial display their showmanship. (Courtesy of X2 Digital Photography)



Almost a month ago, the Japanese American Museum of San Jose (JAMsj) celebrated their grand reopening of a new building in the heart of historic J-town.

The watercolor artistry of Irvine resident Chizuko Judy Sugita DeQueiroz is the featured exhibit through April 30, 2011. Her book, “Camp Days 1942-1945,” was released in 2004. Childhood memories on canvas represent an emotional expression years after her family was incarcerated in Poston, Ariz. during World War II. She was there from age 9 to 12.

San Jose Taiko’s (SJT) dynamic drums rocked the streets of the community in honor of this occasion. Under the artistic direction of this mighty duo, Roy and PJ Hirabayashi, their mission is to “enrich the human spirit, connect people beyond cultural and demographic boundaries.”

With a vision to fully establish a Taiko Conservatory to function as a national resource for this historic art form, educational programs and performances are ongoing as they travel throughout the U.S.

While up in San Jose for a family reunion, a group of 30 relatives gathered for a two-hour introductory lesson at SJT’s studio space. Our motley crew of under age 10 to over 60 was obviously apprehensive as we were paired up to share drums by three instructors.

Charismatic PJ broke down barriers and tension with warm-up/stretching exercises to loosen up those kinks and stiffness. Easier said than done.

After getting a feel for using the bachi (sticks) to tap the drum’s center core, we listened for specific kiai, or shouting out sounds, for us to respond with soft or hard up-and-down arm motions. We traded off partners as we got louder and the pace picked up.

It was great fun working with differing personalities, each with their own style for this challenge. By the end of class, we felt exhilarated and exhausted.

Taiko players everywhere, we bow down to your choreography and physicality. Ain’t easy!

Stop by the JAMsj Winter Boutique at the San Joe Buddhist Church gym on Saturday for Japanese-style collages, fashions made from vintage Japanese kimono, jewelry, washi crafts, stationery and other giftables.

Actual ginkgo leaves are molded as part of the process for a precious metal clay necklace from Cynthia Sasaki of Saratoga. (Courtesy of C. Sasaki Designs)

Cynthia Sasaki has the touch for making jewelry to fit in those little boxes. A top seller is her gingko earrings.

In business three years, Sasaki’s elegant style uses sterling silver and fine silver to provide the framework for her gingko collection and statement necklaces. She favors accent pieces of semi-precious gemstones, Swarovski crystals, pearls and glass beads

Influenced by an artistic mom, Ruby Fujinaka, who passed away eight years ago, they shared time together absorbing the beauty that surrounds us in nature, even in rocks.

Sasaki continues to take classes in wire wrapping, photopolymer plate and precious metal clay to keep her on track for a fulfilling jewelry making business.

The gingko leaves are made from a mold using actual leaves from her yard with precious metal clay. Hand etching, sanding, kiln firing at 1,650 degrees and burnishing are steps to make a single finished leaf.

Closer to home, the Holiday Crafts Faire takes place at the Gedatsu Church on Sunday out in South San Gabriel.

Friday, Saturday, Nov. 12, 13, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Touch of Nature Home & Holiday Décor Show
Diamond Bar, call for location
909-594-5964, Lily Saito

Saturday, Nov. 13 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
JAMsj Winter Boutique
Japanese American Museum of San Jose
San Jose Buddhist Church Gym
640 N. 5th St., San Jose
408-294-3138, Mimi Suga

Sunday, Nov. 14 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Holiday Crafts Faire
Gedatsu Church
7850 Hill Dr., S. San Gabriel
626-572-0923, Judy Hamamoto

Saturday, Nov. 20, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Ayame Kai Holiday Craft Fair
Blaine Memorial Methodist Church
3001 24th Ave. S., Seattle, WA
425-827-4930, Shizue Yahata

Saturday, Nov. 20, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Koi Krafters
Almansor Court, Lakeview Room
700 S. Almansor, Alhambra
626-282-2932, Irene Jong

Sunday, Nov. 21, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Beary Best Friends
Holiday Inn
7000 Beach Blvd., Buena Park
562-865-2637, Ellen Mabuni

Saturday, Dec. 4, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
imaginAir Crafts Boutique
Torrance Cultural Arts Center
3550 Civic Center Dr., Torrance
310-719-8697, Deanna Takahashi

Sunday, Dec. 5, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Krafty Delites #2
Carson Community Center
801 E. Carson St., Carson
310-329-5874, Stephanie Nakayama

Sunday, Dec. 5, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
St. Mary’s Christmas Boutique
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church
963 S. Mariposa, Los Angeles
213-215-3883, Fifi Newcomb

Saturday, Dec. 11, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Kimochi’s Silver Bells Arts & Crafts Faire
The Event Center at St. Mary’s Cathedral
1111 Gough St., San Francisco
415-931-2294, Steve Ishii

Sunday, Dec. 12, 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
A Time for Sharing Holiday Boutique
Gardena Elks Lodge
1735 W. 162nd St., Gardena
310-329-5874, Stephanie Nakayama


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