Shiga Shinnenkai

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Participants in this year's Nanka Shiga Club Shinnenkai at restaurant.

Participants in this year’s Nanka Shiga Club Shinnenkai at Aki Restaurant.

By J.K. YAMAMOTO, Rafu Staff Writer

The Nanka Shiga Club, a kenjinkai for Southern Californians with ties to Shiga Prefecture, held its 2015 Shinnenkai on Feb. 15 at Aki Restaurant in West L.A.

Beverly Toyama said she is taking on the challenge of leading the “small but vibrant” club with co-chair Nancy Kurihara-Johnson.

Jolene Sekijima shows photos of the club's activities over the past year.

Secretary Jolene Sekijima shows photos of the club’s activities over the past year.

Auditor Howard Miyoshi served as emcee and introduced guest speaker Chogi Higa, former president of Nanka Kenjinkai Kyogikai and of Okinawa Association of America.

Starting with a traditional Okinawan greeting, “Hai sai,” Higa noted that the Nanka Kenjinkai Kyogikai is made up of 28 Southern California kenjinkai or prefectural associations. He thanked Nanka Shiga Club for helping with annual events like the New Year’s party, golf tournament, Tanabata Festival and Shinboku Engeikai (charity show).

Located almost in the center of the main island of Honshu and known for its beautiful Lake Biwa, Shiga-ken has much in common with Okinawa, including population size (1.3 million and 1.4 million, respectively), Higa said, adding, “Shiga people are very warm-hearted. Okinawa people also.”

OAA is the biggest local kenjinkai with 600 to 700 members, Higa said, “but I like this kind of small party” because it gives every one a chance to “get to know each other.”

Jolene Sekijima gave the secretary’s report and Kurihara-Johnson gave the treasurer’s report for Elaine Kozai-Barbod, who was present but recovering from a foot injury.

Chogi Higa of Nanka Kenjinkai Kyogikai and Okinawa Association of America was the guest speaker.

Chogi Higa of Nanka Kenjinkai Kyogikai and Okinawa Association of America was the guest speaker.

“This club would not exist except for your support, financial and in every other way, and we really do appreciate it,” said Kurihara-Johnson, who noted that much of the funds raised go to scholarships, “of which we are very proud.”

Sekijima announced that the scholarship has a new application and a new essay question, and that qualifications include academic work, extracurricular activities, and community involvement.

Advisor Jim Nakagawa introduced the new officers, including Vice Chairman Yasuo Okada (unable to attend), Scholarship Chairperson Katharina Miyoshi, Advisor Tosh Enoki (unable to attend), and Youth Group Advisor Lily Kozai, and also led the kampai (toast).

Toyama stressed the importance of young people getting involved in the club by helping out with or taking over duties, such as writing articles for the newsletter.

Kozai that she will keep track of all children and youth who are helping so that they can get credit toward the scholarship, and that they can also get credit for involvement with the Japanese clubs at their schools and sports clubs like OCO and JAO.

Katharina Miyoshi, a past scholarship recipient, talked briefly about her recent visit to Shiga, including an attempt to climb the steep steps at Hikone Castle. Howard Miyoshi, her father, led everyone in gassho and expressed hope that “generations of families may know the wonders of Shiga.”

A proposed dues increase from $10 to $15 per year for individuals, and $25 per couple, was approved. For more information on the club, visit www.nankashigaclub.com.

Photos by J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo

Left: Katharina Miyoshi, scholarship chair. Right: Nikkolos Miyoshi draws numbers for the door prizes.

Left: Katharina Miyoshi, scholarship chair. Right: Nikkolos Miyoshi draws numbers for the door prizes.

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