“Redefining Japaneseness” Special Guest Lecture with Dr. Jane Yamashiro

June 13th, 2017

Redefining Japaneseness: Japanese Americans in the Ancestral Homeland

Tuesday, July 25, 2017, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Admission: Free and Open to the Public

Growing up in the U.S., Japanese Americans learn to understand their Japanese heritage within U.S.-based narratives of racism, cultural exclusion, and multiculturalism. What happens when they move to Japan, where different discourses and assumptions shape what it means to be “Japanese”? What difficulties do Japanese American migrants encounter in their daily interactions as they attempt to make themselves understandable in Japan?

“Redefining Japaneseness” chronicles how Japanese Americans’ understandings of Japaneseness — including their own — transform while living in their ancestral homeland. Drawing from extensive fieldwork and interviews, Dr. Yamashiro reveals the diverse processes and shifting strategies that Japanese American migrants in the Tokyo area utilize as they negotiate and challenge conventional social boundaries and meanings related to race, ethnicity, culture, and nationality.

“Not only does Yamashiro give us engaging portraits of how Japanese Americans navigate the social and cultural terrain of contemporary Japan, but she also provides a fundamental rethinking of the analytic frameworks by which migrant identities have been contextualized and understood,” said Michael Omi, Associate Professor of Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies of UC Berkeley.

Dr. Yamashiro was born and raised in Berkeley, where she is currently based as an independent scholar. She obtained a BA in sociology and Japanese studies from UC San Diego and an MA and Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. For more than a decade, she has been conducting research on Japanese American experiences living in Japan, and she herself has lived in Japan off and on for about nine years. Her comparative and transnational sociological work on race and ethnicity, culture, globalization, migration, diaspora, and identity sits at the intersection of Asian American and Asian Studies.

Admission to the lecture is free and open to the public. To RSVP for this event, call the JCCCNC at (415) 567-5505 or e-mail programsevents@jcccnc.org

“A Bitter Legacy” Documentary Film Screening and Q&A With Director Claudia Katayanagi

May 10th, 2017

Sunday, May 21, 2017 – 1:00 p.m.
FREE Admission

Join us for a FREE screening of the new documentary, “A Bitter Legacy” directed by Claudia Katayanagi. A special Q&A session with the director will follow the screening.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Japanese American internment camps. While the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II is now widely known, little has been exposed about the Citizen Isolation Centers – secret prisons for “troublemakers” who resisted and questioned authority. A Bitter Legacy examines those prisons – now considered to be precursors to Guantanamo Bay – and parallels to issues of racism and immigration restriction today.

Watch the trailer below!

Japanese Yatate: A Visual Journey

March 14th, 2017
FREE Special Cultural Education Program –
Date: Saturday, April 22, 2017
Time: 1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Join us for a  special cultural presentation and take a step back into pre-modern Japan as we explore the Japanese yatate, presented by enthusiast and collector Mr. Robert DeMaria.

The yatate is the uniquely Japanese pre-modern portable writing instrument in wide use in Japan from about the late 13th to early the 20th century, preceding the next revolutionary writing event in Japan that occurred with the introduction of the fountain pen. Used by those needing to write on the go: pilgrims, merchants, scribes, poets and anyone finding it necessary to write on the road, the yatate, over the centuries, became an integral, everyday part of Japanese cultural, social, commercial, and business life.

Yatate belong to a group of objects called sagemono or things that hang from the obi. More widely known sagemono are inrō, netsuke and kiseru. Mr. DeMaria’s presentation will also feature pieces from his personal collection of yatate. Admission to the presentation is free to the general public, but please RSVP if possible.

About Robert DeMaria: Robert first discovered yatate while living in Tokyo at the Heiwajima Antiques Fair. His first purchase of a yatate started him on a twenty-year journey of collecting, discovering, studying and enjoying the craftsmanship and beauty of that little known segment of Japanese culture–the yatate.

JSNC Presents: Ashes to Gold: How the 1964 Olympics Transformed Japan – Featuring Dan Rather

December 1st, 2016

The Japan Society of Northern California Presents:

Ashes to Gold: How the 1964 Olympics Transformed Japan and Lessons for 2020
featuring Dan Rather and Tomohiko Taniguchi
December 8 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm


Can the Olympic Games in 2020 provide the same kind of rallying call for change that they did in 1964?  Can the Abe Government use the Games as both a spur and a stage to drive economic and political reforms at home and security and foreign policy initiatives abroad?  Can the Olympics be the symbol in 2020 that it was in 1964 for a “new Japan” as perceived both by the Japanese themselves and by the people of the Asian region and the world?

The Japan Society of Northern California is proud to present a program featuring news icon Dan Rather to explore how Japan held what many have called the most successful Olympics ever and how it can use the 2020 Games to address the critical issues it faces today. Mr. Rather will discuss a documentary he is producing, Ashes to Gold, that will look at the remarkable accomplishments of 1964. Well-­‐known Japanese commentator and speechwriter for Prime Minister Abe, Professor Tomohiko Taniguchi, will address on how Japan is addressing the challenges it faces in the coming four years. That will be followed by a panel discussion featuring Mr. Rather, Mr. Taniguchi, well-­‐known Silicon Valley executive James Higa, and Japan expert UC Berkeley professor Steven Vogel to explore these issues in depth.

An important part of that story is the role played by OIC Chairman Avery Brundage who helped steer the games to a war-torn, battered Tokyo.  Fittingly, the December 8 program will be held at the De Young Museum which housed the original Brundage Asian Art collection which later became the Asian Art Museum, now located near City Hall.  The program will be followed by a networking reception for the audience.

Tickets: $30 General ($5 discount to JCCCNC members/use code: Torch64)

Book Event: Asian American Religious Cultures with Dr. Ronald Y. Nakasone

September 8th, 2016

coverasian-american-religous-culturesSaturday, September 24, 2016
1:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California
1840 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA
(415) 567-5505

Dr. Ronald Y. Nakasone introduces and shares insight on recently published, two-volume work titled: Asian American Religious Cultures

Six years in the making, the editors who are associated with the Graduate Theological Union (GTU), Berkeley, spearheaded the project. Fumitaka Matsuoka, Robert Gordon, Sproul Professor of Theology Emeritus, Pacific School of Religion; Edmund Yee, Professor Emeritus of Asian Studies, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary; Ronald Y. Nakasone, Core Doctoral Faculty, GTU; and Jonathan Lee, Associate Professor, San Francisco State University.

The two-volume work highlights the rich spiritual cultures of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. In addition to the overview of the major faith traditions active in teh US, the encyclopedia features extended essays on “Politics and Religion,” “Gender and Sexuality,” “Islamophobia,” and “Spirtuality;” and entries such as “Aloha Spirit,” “Jikeikai,” “Qingming,” “Vesakha,” “Vivekananda,” and other faith inspired organizations, events, and personalities. More than 30 entries are directly related to the Japanese American experience.

The Editors adn authors of the publication will share their insights on Asian American religions and spiritual traditions, and on the editorial and other challenges they encountered.

Please join the celebration of the publication of this important work.

Wesley United Methodist Church 84th Annual Aki Matsuri Fall Festival

July 27th, 2016


84th Annual Wesley Aki Matsuri Fall Festival
Saturday, October 1, 2016
11:00am – 4:00pm
San Jose Japantown
566 N. 5th Street, San Jose, CA 95112

SAN JOSE — Come and celebrate the coming of the fall season at Wesley United Methodist Church’s annual Aki Matsuri festival. Experience a modern twist of a Japanese festival with new and traditional foods, a variety of entertainment and activities, and one-of-a-kind shopping. Aki Matsuri (Fall Festival) is on Saturday, October 1, 2016 from 11 AM to 4 PM in the heart of San Jose’s Japantown at 566 N. 5th Street. Parking will be available to our visitors at the Wesley 6th Street parking lot, down 5th Street center divider (between Jackson and E. Empire), and the 6th Street & Jackson parking lot.

Aki Matsuri is an old-fashioned church bazaar in a neighborly and family friendly setting. Enjoy a colorful array of Japanese American cuisine in our Food Pavilion where you can dine in or take out. Throughout the day, experience a variety of entertainment across three stages featuring our city’s famous San Jose Taiko performers, and talented local youth and adults performing traditional and contemporary music and dance.

In our Marketplace, you will find beautiful handmade Asian crafts, one-of-a-kind-gifts, sundries, Japanese books, Silent Auction and an array of local fresh plants and flowers. We have our interactive Kids Zone. It includes a cultural experience through games, crafts, and entertainment focused on children, teens, and the young-at-heart.

Wesley United Methodist Church was established over 120 years ago, and in the last 84 years, it has brought its unique cultural flavor to the Japantown neighborhood, the outlying community, and to the city of San Jose. We are reaching out and building community not only within our San Jose neighborhood, but across the Bay Area in hopes of making new friends, sharing our cultural roots, and providing a memorable time for all!

For further information, visit our website: http://www.wesleysj.net/akimatsuri/ Call (408) 295-0367 or e-mail us at office@wesleysj.net. Check us out on Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/WesleySanJose

“Ruch and Norie” Documentary Screening

May 27th, 2016

Celebrated Japanese-Latvian documentary to be presented at JCCCNC

Ruch and Norie

What: Screening of documentary film “Ruch and Norie”
Date: Sunday, June 12, 2016
Time: 4:00pm
Location: Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California (JCCCNC), 1840 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA 94115
Price: $12.00 ($13.41 w/service fee)
Buy Tickets Online: http://wwww.brownpapertickets.com/event/2557524

On Sunday, June 12th at 4PM, an extraordinary human interest documentary is going to be screened at the JCCCNC. “Ruch and Norie” (2015) is a unique Latvian-Japanese production that has become an absolute favorite of international film experts and audiences alike and is currently being screened at the European Union Film Festival in Singapore and other international film festivals. It has won four national film awards, including the Best Documentary. The event is supported by the Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco and its main purpose is to reflect on Japanese culture, its challenges and interaction with other cultures and promote the understanding of transnational Japanese persona. The event will also serve as an unprecedented cultural exchange of the Bay Area Japanese, Latvian and other communities giving everyone a chance to meet people of their own and other backgrounds.

Link to the ticket site: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2557524

More information and movie trailer: www.devini.lv


About the film

“Ruch and Norie” is a heart-warming story about a phenomenal friendship between a Japanese girl Norie and 82 year old woman nicknamed Ruch from the Suiti ethnographic community in Latvia (Northern Europe). The protagonist and narrator of the film is Norie Tsuruta, who comes from Kyoto to Alsunga in Latvia to study Suiti for her Master’s thesis in Anthropology. But soon her academic interest transforms into something she never expected – a strong bond with the oldest member of the community she sees the reflection of her deceased grandmother in. Now Norie wishes she had two bodies to be in Japan and with Ruch at the same time. Through both characters, the documentary highlights the hardships their friendship has to go through and important human qualities that help to maintain it making this a universal story about the beauty of human relationship.

Along the personal side of the story, the subjects of cultural heritage preservation and the place of Japanese culture and traditions in a global and changing world are also addressed in the film. As Norie’s best friend Akiko puts it, “Norie is the person to make a film about. She cares about Japanese traditions and values a lot. She even lives in the historical Japanese style house which is not done by many nowadays.” This is a story about a young Japanese in a borderless world from a fresh and unusual perspective focusing on her thoughts and experiences.

As early as in the project stage, “Ruch and Norie” generated wide international interest. It was one of the 15 projects selected by the European-Asian documentary workshop “Crossing Borders” in South Korea and pitched to major broadcasting companies (BBC, PBSi, Discovery, Al-Jazeera, etc). The film was shot in various locations in Japan (Aichi, Kyoto a.o.) and Latvia (Riga, Alsunga). It was supported by both Embassy of Latvia in Japan and Embassy of Japan in Latvia as well as the Latvian company “Stenders” store in Japan, private enterprises and individual crowdfunders in USA and Europe.

Link to the ticket site: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2557524

More information and movie trailer: www.devini.lv

The Restaurant of Many Orders

May 12th, 2016

Restaurant OrdersWhen: Friday, May 20
Time: 9:30 p.m.
Where: Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center
Tickets: Click here to purchase tickets (use promo code: CTN16 to receive a $5 discount)

Based on Miyazawa Kenji’s short story for children, “The Restaurant of Many Orders (注文の多い料理店)” is an accessible yet profound dance theater performance directed by Hiroshi Koike.  The production has toured to 17 cities within Japan and six cities in Asia, enjoyed by three year olds and senior citizens.

Click here to view a Japanese TV news clip introducing this show.

Limited amount of English dialogue; mostly Japanese and other Asian contemporary and traditional expressions and movements with original music, which includes shakuhachi by Akikazu Nakamura and voice by Yumi Kimura, who was featured in Hayao Miyazaki’s film “Spirited Away”.

Ticket holders may also attend the SFIAF opening night reception following the 8pm performance at the Cowell Theater on the May 19.  Enjoy the show, then partake in refreshments including tasty snacks, created with Miso and Koji products by AEDAN’s founder and chef, Mariko.

All That Remains Book Event with Delphine Hirasuna

April 28th, 2016

The San Francisco chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League Presents

A Special Presentation of Delphine Hirasuna’s new book

All That Remains

All That Remains

Co-Sponsored by the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California

WhenSaturday, May 14, 2016
Time: 2:00pm – 4:00pm
Where: JCCCNC, 1840 Sutter Street, San Francisco California
Admission: FREE

The author of The Art of Gaman, Delphine will provide a visual presentation of the arts and crafts made in the WWII Japanese American concentration camps, and talk about how her sequel All That Remains came about. Delphine will also offer tips on how best to preserve family artifacts from deterioration.

Attendees are invited to bring their family artifacts about camp or photographs and share their own stories.

A book signing of All That Remains will follow.

Please e-mail sfjacl@yahoo.com to RSVP.


Finding Home, Finding Hope in Japan, with author Leza Lowitz

March 17th, 2016

Thursday, March 24, 6:oopm-9:00pm
Presented by Japan Society of Northern California

@ DG717, 717 Market Street St., San Francisco, CA 94103
$10-15; More information and tickets available online at: http://www.usajapan.org/event/leza-lowitz/

The Japan Society of Northern California will be hosting a special talk by award-winning author Leza Lowitz on Thursday, March 24 at DG717 in downtown San Francisco.

As we approach a more unified world culturally and economically we begin to meet others from distant places, far from their native lands. Or we may be the travelers, ourselves. How can we be at home wherever we are in the world, especially when facing challenges, or when disaster strikes?

In this inspiring talk, award-winning writer Leza Lowitz shows us how the idea of ‘home’ can be more than a physical location and that family can transcend the nuclear unit.

Lowitz knows this from personal experience. She moved to Tokyo at the age of 40, but rather than struggle to fit in she opened a yoga studio and made a home for others. Then, at 44, she and her Japanese husband sought to adopt — in a country where bloodlines are paramount and family ties are almost feudal in their cultural importance.  Her memoir, Here Comes the Sun, charts this journey of adapting and adopting. By embracing outsider status, Lowitz become an insider.

Then disaster struck. Lowitz was in Tokyo on March 11, 2011, and her yoga studio mobilized to organize the largest non-corporate donation drive for Tohoku on record. She volunteered at the temporary housing shelters, and her studio helped build a library in a town devastated by the tsunami. But she wanted to do more.

Please visit the Japan Society’s website for more event information and online event registration.


Leza Lowitz is an award-winning author of over 20 books, many about Japan. Formerly a lecturer in literature at Tokyo University and an editor at NIRA, a semi-governmental Japanese think tank, Lowitz has run her own highly successful yoga studio in Tokyo for 13 years, and has shared the power of mindfulness and the nurturing potential of creativity with Fortune 500 companies to Academy-award winning actors and directors to everyone in between.