Grateful Crane Ensemble to Present Benefit Show

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ANAHEIM — “The Best of Grateful Crane,” a benefit show for Japan relief, will be presented on Saturday, May 14, at 4 p.m. at Orange County Buddhist Church, 909 S. Sale Ave., Anaheim.

Presented by the Grateful Crane Ensemble, the two-act show will include the best songs the ensemble has sung over the past 10 years of its existence. Japanese and American favorites such as “Koko ni Sachi Ari,” “Kawa no Nagare no Youni,” “Moonlight Serenade,” “Star Dust,” and “I’ll Be Seeing You” will be featured.

“We performed this show at our 10th Anniversary Celebration Dinner last month,” said Soji Kashiwagi, executive producer of the Grateful Crane Ensemble. “We will be doing the same show again, this time as a benefit for Japan disaster relief.”

100 percent of ticket proceeds will be donated to the Northern Japan Earthquake Relief Fund, which is being run by the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California (JCCCNC). The JCCCNC, based in San Francisco, has raised over $1 million that has gone to direct relief to people in areas of Japan with the greatest needs.

In selecting a fund, Kashiwagi explained that he was well aware of some concerns expressed over larger relief funds that reportedly take out high administrative fees from public donations. In his research, he looked for a fund that would deliver 100 percent of donations directly to people in need in Japan, and one that was rooted in the Japanese American community. He found both in the JCCCNC.

“It’s important that we, as a Japanese American community, support the people of Japan during this time of need,” said Kashiwagi. “Being from San Francisco, I know the people at the JCCCNC, appreciate the fact that they have a track record of running an earthquake relief fund in 1995, and trust that its donations are once again reaching people in need now.”

After the Kobe quake in 1995, the JCCCNC raised $600,000 in direct relief for earthquake victims. For the past 16 years, the center has maintained its relationships with its contacts in Kobe, so when the March 11 quake/tsunami hit, it was able to set up its new fund on the same day, and immediately started taking donations.

According to an update, dated March 28, on the JCCCNC website, donations have already been put to work in Japan, including the delivery of food, water, batteries and flashlights to the Tohoku region; establishing and sustaining two relief shelters and three childcare centers in Sendai City and Matsushima Azuma in Miyagi Prefecture; and supporting the resettlement of over 20,000 homeless evacuees from the Tohoku region to resettle in temporary housing in Kobe.

Benefit show sponsors include the Grateful Crane Ensemble, actor Rodney Kageyama, Hiroshi and Sadako Kashiwagi, Tak and Terry Kosakura, Tomiye Sumner, FIA Insurance Services, Soji and Keiko Kashiwagi, and Orange County Buddhist Church.

“The Best of Grateful Crane” will feature the singing of Jason Fong, Haruye Ioka, Keiko Kawashima, Darrell Kunitomi, Kurt Kuniyoshi, Aimee Machida, Merv Maruyama, Mary Kageyama Nomura, Helen H. Ota and Fusako Shiotani. The newly formed Grateful Crane Youth Singers will also perform. The group includes Aimee Machida, Alyssa Nakamoto, Erika Mariko Olsen and Miko Shudo.

The “Best of Grateful Crane” band includes Scott Nagatani, Danny Yamamoto, Lisa Joe and Gordon Bash.

A donation of $50 per person is requested. Free parking is available. For tickets and information, call the Grateful Crane ticket line at (310) 995-5841. For more information about the group, visit www.gratefulcrane.com.

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