Shinzen Nikkei Youth Goodwill Program

  • Shinzen 2005 in Osaka
  • Shinzen 2004 - McCovey Cove, San Francisco
  • Shinzen 2003
  • Shinzen 2007 at Families Osaka Castle
  • Shinzen 2007 with Host Families


Shinzen in Japanese means international goodwill or amity. This cross-cultural exchange program promotes the values of fair play and competition, while fostering ties between the U.S. and Japan, and our Japanese and Japanese American communities. Through sports, youth exchanges, touring and homestays, our young ambassadors build stronger relationships with the people of Japan, while learning about their cultural heritage, traditions and identity.

In 1995, the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California (JCCCNC) and the Office of the Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco began discussing ways to create a more dynamic and meaningful exchange program between the U.S. and Japan. It was agreed that although there are a substantial number of traditional cultural and intellectual exchanges, there exists a greater need for meaningful dialogue and goodwill exchange between youth in Japan and Japanese America youth.

Since the 1997 inaugural visit to Japan in 1997, the Shinzen USA Nikkei Youth Goodwill Program (Shinzen Program) has been able to provide unique opportunities for not only the exchange of friendly competition, but also for building a foundation for the exchange of ideas and important values of our young people today, ensuring a strong future for our U.S.-Japan relations.

2016-17 Shinzen Program 

The JCCCNC is proud to announce a special (two-year) 2016-17 Shinzen Nikkei Youth Goodwill Program to celebrate the 110th Anniversary of San Francisco's Japantown and commemorate the 5th Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, culminating with a trip to Japan in the summer of 2017.


The selected participants for the 2016-17 Shinzen Program include: Girls Team Coach Rachelle Hata and players, Miya Chan, Charlene Tonai Din, Tomi Eijima, Alyssa Ikuma, Kristin Katayama, Taylor Matoba, Izumi Murase, Lauren Noguchi, Taylor Noguchi and Olivia Yoshii; Boys Team Coach Ryan Baba and players, Aiden Fujimoto, Ryan Kawamura, Connor Nakamura, Stephen Nakamura, Tyler Tsudama, Jake Tsutaoka, Josh Tsutaoka and Kellen Uyeda.

Press Release 8-2-2016:
The JCCCNC has organized U.S.-Japan youth cultural exchange programs for nearly 20 years, with the first being the inaugural Shinzen Program in 1997. Although the JCCCNC has not coordinated the Shinzen Program for the past seven years, Paul Osaki, Executive Director of the JCCCNC mentions, “We understand that a first-hand cultural experience is invaluable in helping the youth in our Japanese American community develop and define their identity, while also establishing a greater connection to their sometimes seemingly distant heritage. It is by experiencing things on their own that the history and heritage of their ancestors is realized.”

Over the past two months, the youth participants have attended weekly workshops to help develop their sense of cultural identity and learn about the Japanese American experience from immigration to current day by watching a drama series. Through discussions about the drama, the youth better understand the struggles and sacrifices of their Issei ancestors and what challenges the early generations faced during World War II. They also learned about Japanese American culture and heritage including the history of San Francisco Japantown and have gained leadership experience through public speaking and collaborative activities. Each of the participants will create their own family history books, something that the JCCCNC feels is  important as we celebrate the 110th Anniversary of our Japantown. This project will not only carry on the history and stories of our community, but it will allow these middle- and highschool youth to gain a better understanding of themselves as young Japanese Americans.
When asked ‘what did you learn about yourself this summer,’ Ryan Kawamura answered, “I learned that I am part of a community whose ancestors fought for a better life for me and other Japanese Americans.” Charlene Tonai Din, a Yonsei who is Chinese and Japanese American added, “I am proud of my mixed culture. I am part of a diverse community held together by courage.” Tomi Eijima shared her thoughts on the Japanese American experience, “I have a better appreciation for the Issei and Nisei generations for paving the way (for us).”

The activities for the youth next summer include workshops to prepare for their trip to Japan as young ambassadors representing our community, learning Japanese customs, language and etiquette, planning and preparing intercultural activities for youth and children, basketball practices, leadership development activities, volunteering at community events and fundraising.

Fundraisers for the 2016-17 Shinzen Program:

Benefit Raffle - Grand Prize - Tickets for 2 to Japan on Japan Airlines

  • On-going through May 6, 2017
  • Raffle Tickets: $5/ticket and $20/book of 5

Online Generosity Indiegogo Campaign

  • Give any amount to support the 2016-17 Team

J-Town Jam - A Benefit Dance Party featuring Msbhavn (band members from Rendevous, Jest Jammin', Kickback and Expo)

  • Saturday, November 26, 2016, 7-10p
  • Tickets: $30/Advance and $40/At the Door (limited)
  • 21+ only

All You Can Eat Udon Lunch

  • Sunday, January 22, 2017, 11am-2pm
  • Tickets: $15/1 person or $50/4 tickets ($10 savings)

Texas Hold-em Tournament

  • Great prize, delicious food, fun company!
  • Saturday, February 25, 2017, Doors open at 4:30pm/Tournament 6-10pm
  • $125 Donation / $50 Dinner
  • 21+ only / must pre-register to participate

Big Break J-town Golf Tournament featuring Team Shamble Golf (9 holes), Big Break Skills Challenges (Break the Glass and Over the Wall), Other FUN events, Great Prizes Lunch on the Go and Dinner

  • Sunday, March, 26, 2017, Shotgun Start 11:00am
  • Lincoln Park Golf Course, San Francisco
  • $175 Per Player / $50 Dinner Only
  • Registration Deadline: March 10, 2017 - Register here
  • shinzen golf tourament FLYER

For more information, call (415) 567-5505 or email

Shinzen 2009

The thirteenth year of the Shinzen USA Nikkei Youth Goodwill Sports Program saw nearly 80 participants from the Bay Area - 21 youth basketball players, their families and staff - traveled to Japan for a week-long grassroots exchange trip.

The 2009 program theme “Shinzen Forever,” was a reminder that although the program in its current state is ending, the friendships and bonds created by the spirit of Shinzen will always remain.

“When we first started, I didn’t understand the meaning of goodwill and friendship, I just thought, basketball and Japan - that sounds like fun, but it was way more than that. We volunteered, went to events, we learned about the bomb in Hiroshima and played with the kids at the Kodomo Home (orphanage)...I learned that friendships can spread and maintain for probably my whole life. These friendships that I made in Japan will always be remembered.”

- Amada Joo, Santa Clara

Highlights of the 2009 Program included: youth homestays in Osaka and Kobe, participating in the 50th Anniversary of the San Francisco-Osaka Sister City Relationship (2007) Plaque Unveiling, creating crafts and dancing with the children of Nagata Kodomo Home and being the guest of Toyosaki Jr. High School in Osaka, getting a tour the school, playing goodwill games and being treating to a mini-concert by their band.  Click here to view some highlights of the trip.



Shinzen 2007

2007 was an exciting year for the Shinzen Program - 22 players and their families traveled to Hiroshima, Osaka and Kobe, Japan from July 27-August 5, 2007. The highlight was the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the San Francisco-Osaka Sister City relationship, which included a visit with Osaka Mayor Seki at City Hall.

Press Release:  2007 Shinzen POST Press Release

Participant Quotes:

Jared Wong (Moraga), whose family originated from Hiroshima, was overwhelmed by the visit to Hiroshima stating that, “Going to the Hiroshima Peace Museum and the Sadako Memorial Statue was life-changing. The museum showed me how devastating a single act could be and how it could have been prevented. Those two monuments taught me that the relationships we were building with the Japanese kids are actually really important as we grow up and take more control of our surroundings.”

“When I met my Osaka host family for the first time, I was nervous. I was worried that I would do the wrong thing and insult them or embarrass myself. They welcomed me into their home and made it clear that I could feel comfortable because I was now a part of their family. They were sweet and generous, and we had a lot of fun. Even though it was hard to communicate at times, it was one of the best experiences I have ever had in my life, and I cannot wait until I have the opportunity to see my host family again.”

- Katie Gong, San Francisco



Shinzen 2005

Shinzen 2003

Shinzen 2001

Shinzen 1999

Shinzen 1997



© 2017 Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California | Site created with FLAIR
The JCCCNC a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization registered in the State of California

Translate »