MONTEBELLO — Nanka Yamaguchi Kenjinkai held its general meeting and Shinnen Enkai (New Year’s luncheon) on Feb. 25 at the Quiet Cannon in Montebello.
Aki Fukuhara-Vaughn served as emcee and called for a silent tribute to members who have passed away since the last meeting. Naomi Suenaka gave the treasurer’s report.
Following remarks by outgoing president Arturo Yoshimoto, the 2018 officers were introduced: Richard Fukuhara, president; Florence Ochi, vice president (succeeding Millie Tani); Fukuhara-Vaughn and Suenaka, continuing as secretary and treasurer.
Richard Fukuhara presented Yoshimoto with a plaque and praised him for his work on various events from 2015 to 2017, including the Yamaguchi Kenjinkai World Grand Meeting held in Los Angeles. Yoshimoto was also involved in Fukuhara’s “An Afternoon of Peace” event at the Aratani Theatre.
Fukuhara, who previously served as president from 2012 to 2014, announced that the kenjinkai will hold its annual picnic in June at George Elder Park in Monterey Park and will participate in the Tanabata Festival in Little Tokyo in August.
William Christopher Ford, owner and chief instructor of Kaizen Dojo in Torrance and a cast member of “The Karate Kid Part III,” gave an Okinawan Shorin Ryu karate demonstration with the assistance of two of his students, Kalia and Nevaeh. Ford, who will celebrate 45 years of being a student of the martial arts next year, is a kenjinkai member and the son of member Umeno Ford, one of the afternoon’s senior honorees.
Past president Henry Yasuda (1997-1999) led the toast and past president Rev. Kiyoshi Igawa of Konko Kyo (2000-2002), also a senior honoree, gave the invocation.
Suenaka, who is also scholarship co-chair, announced that the deadline for graduating high school seniors to apply is May 25. She introduced 2010 recipient Ann Tani, daughter of Millie and Steven Tani, who is now a graphic designer. There was a video message from 2016 recipient Nicole Oshima, granddaughter of Henry and Helen Yasuda, who is majoring in communications and Asian American studies at UCLA and is a member of the Nikkei Student Union.
Special recognition was given to members who are 80 and older, including: Ayako Fujita, Reijin Fujita, Yasuko Katayama, Kaiji Katsumoto, Toshiko Katsumoto, Yoshiko Kishimoto, Fujiko Matsubara, Masaki Matsubara, Meriko Miyamoto, Takashi Miyamoto, Yoshiko Monji, Hideo Morikawa, Haruko Morikawa, Hisako Nagamine, Tomiko Nakata, Maurine Oban, Roy Oban, Mitsuko Ono, Yae Tanaka, Mitsuko Yamamoto (who will soon be 101), Helen Yasuda and Henry Yasuda. The gifts were created by Millie and Steven Tani.
Fukuhara gave a presentation on the history Nanka Yamaguchi Kenjinkai, which turns 113 this year, and Fukuhara-Vaughn announced that members will attend the 2020 World Grand Meeting in Yamaguchi, which will include participants from kenjinkai in the U.S., Peru, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and China. She introduced a new song for the occasion, “Yamaguchi Here We Come,” to tune of “California Here I Come.”
The event closed with bingo, door prizes, and group singing of “Sukiyaki” (Ue o Muite Arukou).
Photos by J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo