A Message from the President

Dear Members and Friends of JAA,

It has been more than six months since the shelter-in-place order went into effect in New York City, and while COVID-19 made lives difficult for so many people, businesses, and organizations (including JAA), we are grateful that most of our members have maintained their health and are in good spirits. While we were forced to cancel all of our on-site programs and events, COVID has presented some unique opportunities to serve our community during this crisis. Project Bento was such an opportunity. It was truly a wonderful way for our community to come together and volunteer to serve our vulnerable seniors who were homebound, and in many cases isolated and living alone. We also just completed our Autumn Health Fair in which more than half of the programs were done remotely. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that people from as far away as Japan and Australia also participated.

We hope you will all join our first virtual Gala on December 4, 2020. This will be our major fundraiser for the year. Please help us make it our best one ever – we especially need your support as we head towards winter uncertain about COVID’s impact on our future health. Thank you so much and please stay safe!

With warmest regards,
Susan J. Onuma

JAA 113th Anniversary Virtual Gala

JAA Gala to be live streamed on YouTube
Friday, December 4 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Honorees: Yoshida Restaurant Group,
ITO EN (North America) INC.
and Susan Miyagi McCormac

This is an important fundraising activity that determines the future of JAA. Thank you for your support.

Project Bento

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the stay-at-home order in New York City caused a suspension of various programs and business, including those of JAA. Seniors were not able to gather for JAA’s Keirokai, so JAA Secretary and Vice President Susan McCormac formed a committee and established Project Bento. We recruited volunteers to call seniors to check on their well-being and to deliver bento that have been generously donated by the Yoshida Restaurant Group, which runs Sunrise Mart, Japan Village, and several restaurants.

Project Bento officially launched the week of May 4th. We delivered 180 lunch boxes each week to seniors and people with disabilities in Manhattan and the Bronx on Mondays, and Queens and Brooklyn on Thursdays, bringing BenOn and Wasan to provide the bento at cost. In July, after the city entered its third and fourth stages of reopening, we adjusted the delivery schedule to every other week.

On July 30th, we celebrated “Doyono Ushinohi” by delivering 200 eel bento boxes prepared by BentOn. Our special “Eel Day Keirokai” was made possible with the support of Japan Society. Volunteers convened in Japan Society’s lobby to pack each bento kit with a message from Dr. Joshua W. Walker, President of Japan Society; tea from ITO EN (North America) INC., which has been donating tea to Project Bento since its inception; and masks made by JAA volunteers. We received numerous thank you emails from our seniors after the deliveries! On September 21st (Keiro no Hi in Japan), JAA also organized a “Respect for the Aged Day” lunch box with the support of the Mitsui USA Foundation. We made it possible for people outside of New York City to pick up these bento boxes at JAA.

Project Bento is carried out with the support of the Consulate General of Japan in New York, Japan-related organizations, various Japanese restaurants, and many dedicated volunteers. This is the first project launched that brings together Japanese and Japanese Americans living in New York City to work with the governmental, business, and nonprofit sectors. Through fundraising efforts, we received donations that allowed us to send $50 gift certificates from Sunrise Mart to community members experiencing financial difficulties during this coronavirus crisis.

The volunteers who participate in this project are in different positions and organizations, but they are brought together by the wish to support seniors and people in need in the community.

Project Bento’s steering committee members are JAA Executive Director, Michiyo Noda; JAA President, Susan Onuma; JAA Vice Presidents, Julie Azuma, Yuki Kaneshige, Susan McCormac, and Suki Terada Ports; Michael Ishii, Co-Chair, Tsuru for Solidarity; Erina Yoshida, COO of the Yoshida Restaurant Group; and Natsuko Ikegami, a real estate agent and community activist. Participating restaurants and food providers have been Sunrise Mart, BentOn, ITO EN (North America) INC., Daiei Trading, Bessou, Wasan, Chef Katsutoshi Machida, the Consulate General of Japan in New York, Japan Society, Takumen LIC, TIC Restaurant group, the Mitsui USA Foundation and The Rice Factory.




JAA Women in Business Committee

October 10: Journalist Keiko Tsuyama spoke about the upcoming US Presidential Election and COVID-19 online. 161 people attended and raised $2,012.50 for JAA. She will speak again about the post Presidential Election results on Nov. 13, 2020. Please contact JAA Office or www.jwb-ny.org

JAA Volunteers made more than 3000 Masks

Since New York City’s toughest times in April, JAA members have fought COVID by making nearly 3,000 masks to help keep New Yorkers safe. Volunteers -such as Hiroko Shimizu, who made 1100 of these masks, Hikaru Aono and Namie Appelbaum-and other members of JAA have contributed their mighty sewing skills to create beautiful, functional masks out of materials such as Japanese yukata. They were given to Project Bento seniors all across the city, and to clients of Food Bank, Coalition for the Homeless and Bowery Mission, all in communities hardest-hit by COVID. We were joined in this effort by members of the Consulate General of Japan in New York, The NY Japanese-American Lions Club, the Hoshuko Alumni Association, JETAANY (the JET Alumni Association of NY), and USJC. JAA would like to thank all those who made masks, donated materials or helped with their transport.

50th Anniversary JAA Scholarship and
14th Annual Honjo Scholarship Programs

On June 2, the 50th Anniversary JAA Scholarship and the 14th Annual Honjo Scholarship Dinner was scheduled for the Harvard Club in the city, but it could not be held due to the spread of COVID-19.

This year’s 50th anniversary JAA scholarship application closed on May 4, a selection committee chose awardees mid-May, and 15 students who are attending university this fall received a total of $77,000. Two awardees also received round-trip tickets to Japan. Six graduate students were awarded the Honjo Scholarship (totaling $30,000) from the Honjo International Scholarship Foundation.

Since we could not gather in person, we created a video in commemoration of the 50th anniversary, with a greeting from Ambassador Kanji Yamanouchi; Scholarship Co-Chairperson, Ms. Clair Chino; and JAA President, Ms. Susan Onuma, Violinist Ryu Goto sent a message on behalf of past winners, and MUFG Scholarship Winner Akaneh Wang and Honjo Scholarship Winner Chisato Kario expressed their joy and appreciation for the awards.

The celebratory video link can be found here: https://vimeo.com/424951369

50th JAA General Scholarship Committee
Co-Chairpersons: Mitsuru Clair Chino (Itochu Int’l ) and Satoru Murase
Members: Kazuo Koshi (MUFJFG), Dr. Maki Kano Lueckerath, Gary S. Moriwaki, Susan J. Onuma, Wendy Takahisa, Rona Tison [ITO EN (North America) INC.]

14th JAA Honjo Scholarship Committee
Chairperson: Gary S. Moriwaki
Members: Julie Azuma, Susan J. Onuma, Koji Sato, Katsuo Takeda

Memorial Day Services (Bosankai) at Mount Olivet Cemetery

On May 25, under a beautiful spring sky, the annual Memorial Day Services (Bosankai) were held at the Mount Olivet Japanese Cemetery in Queens. Respecting social distancing guidelines and wearing masks, ten community leaders took part: Consul Tateo Ohashi, Consulate General of Japan in NY; Rev. Earl Ikeda of the NY Buddhist Church; JAA Vice President, Katsuo Takeda; JAA Executive Director, Mrs. Michiyo Noda; Mr. Yoshimasa Haramo, Mrs. Kazumi Haramo, and Mr. Noboru Miki of The New York Japanese-American Lions Club; Mr. Toru Okamoto, a principal, and Mr. Masahiro Kozuma, Executive Director of the Japanese Children’s Society of New York. The ceremony began with remarks from Rev. Earl Ikeda, who offered incense and flowers in memoriam. Rev. Ikeda said we were able to hold this memorial service for the pioneers who came before us, hoping to pass this gratitude onto the next generation, especially at this moment of crisis. Following the ceremony, the gravesite of Dr. Toyohiko Takami was honored. Before the service, Mr. Takeda, Consul Ohashi, Mr. Miki, Mr. & Mrs. Haramo and Mr. Kozuma cleaned the cemetery. The Consulate General of Japan in New York, JAA, and the New York Japanese American Lions Club presented wreaths for the occasion.

JAA Committee on Aging Issues
The 14th Annual Autumn Health Fair

JAA’s Autumn Health Fair offered 30 programs online and via phone, ZOOM and YouTube from Thursday, September 10 to Sunday, October 4. We held a small group of ZOOM workshops and lectures at the JAA Hall. Under the theme, “To live a healthy and secure New York life now with COVID-19,” we provided lectures on the welfare of the elderly in Japan and in the United States, pensions and wills, long-term care, prevention and exercise advice on dementia, and more. We also held a roundtable discussion for women with illness, for pregnant women and a rhythmic class via ZOOM. People from Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, DC, as well as overseas could participate because we conducted the health fair online. In all, we had a total of 1091 people participants.

Due to COVID-19, we canceled our monthly Keirokai gatherings, the 12th Sakura Health Fair, Flea Markets/ Bazaars, the 35th JAA Foreign Minister Cup Baseball Tournament and the 27th JAA Charity Golf Tournament.

Free monthly legal consultations continue to be provided over the telephone.

JAA Japan Flood and Typhoon Relief Fund

The autumn Japanese language workshop was held via ZOOM, and it was a great success with more than 50 participants on Saturday, October 3. Professor Kazuko Saito of City University of New York and Clarks town School District gave a lecture on the theme, “Possibilities of Online Japanese Language Education and Future Challenges -From Junior High School and University Classrooms.” Many of the participants have been teaching online since September, and there are many things they did not understand, so there was a strong interest in this theme. There were discussions about the fact that online classes have the same aspects as classroom classes, and what should be changed. Talk of which apps can be used in class and how to evaluate them provided useful information. It was a meaningful meeting with participants from Colorado and Nashville.

Kenjiro & Yoko Sasaki Return to Japan

After 55 years of living in the United States, Mr. and Mrs. Sasaki returned to Sendai, Japan, on October 9th. They visited JAA and made a generous donation of $20,000 on the day before their return. Kenjiro Sasaki was born in Sendai City in 1936. He graduated from the Department of Fine Arts, Faculty of Education, at Tohoku University in 1961. In 1966, he graduated from the Mexico Institute Agente and obtained an MFA. He was lecturer at Tohoku Seikatsu Bunka University (1981-1996) and a lecturer for the New York Japan Club Culture Course (1991-2004). His work has been included in the NY Art Students League’s “World Youth Artists Exhibition” (NY), Brooklyn Museum’s “National Print Exhibition” (NY), among others. In addition, he held solo exhibitions in New York, Tokyo, Kyoto,and Sendai. He has authored numerous books such as “The Essence of American Painting,” “American Classical Music Guide,” “Japanese Culture Visiting New York,” and “This is American Contemporary Art.” Yoko Sasaki joined JAA in 1985, and since 1990, she contributed as a volunteer organizer for Keirokai. In 1996, she was appointed to the board of directors of JAA, and was active as the Committee Chairperson for the “JAA Art Exhibition of Japanese and Japanese American Artists in New York”. The couple has contributed to the Japanese community for many years. We wish them all the best.


Tadashi “Tad” Tsufura passed away on March 29 at Mount Sinai Queens Hospital in Astoria. He was 89 years old. He was an educator and administrator who had been forced to live in an internment camp at age 12 with his family for two years during World War II. He was born in Los Angeles, California, on September 17, 1930. Tsufura was drafted into the army during the Korean War and served from 1951 to 1953. Upon his return to civilian life, he attended Fenn College (now Cleveland State University), majoring in chemical engineering. He became a math teacher at I.S. 70 in New York City, where he taught for 16 years. Eventually, he applied for and was appointed principal of P.S. 41 Greenwich Village in 1976, becoming the first Asian American principal in New York City. He faced many obstacles in securing the appointment because “I was too outspoken and refused to bow my head and keep my opinions to myself.” He adds, “The district officials didn’t think Asians would make good supervisors. They wanted me to fail so badly.” In the end, it was the power and collective voice of the parents that made his appointment possible. He went on to become a school superintendent in New York City. His wife, Mabel, contracted the coronavirus and was hospitalized. Tsufura also became ill, and they died five days apart.

Lillian “Chiyeko” Kimura passed away on April 23rd. She was 91. She served as National President of JACL from 1992-94 and was the first woman to serve in that capacity. Born in Glendale, California, Kimura was 13 years old during World War II when she and her family were uprooted and eventually incarcerated at the Manzanar WRA Center in California. Afterward, her family moved to Chicago, where Kimura attended the University of Illinois. She earned a bachelor’s degree in 1951, and later, a master’s degree in social work in 1954. In her professional career, Kimura also served as Associate Executive Director of the YWCA of the USA. She received the YWCA’s Racial Justice Award and its Ambassador Award. In 1993, the government of Japan bestowed upon her the Order of the Precious Crown, Wisteria. She also received the Anti-Defamation League’s Ina Kay Award in 2008 and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund Justice in Action Award in 2011.

Nanako Oguri passed away on May 5 at the age of 83. She was born on May 1, 1937 to Kanzo and Augusta Oguri. She attended college at NYU and CCNY and taught in New York public schools for 35 years. After retiring, she was certified as a therapist and worked with children. She was active in the Lions Club of Flushing and the Japanese American United Church.



Sachiko Ichinohe passed away on May 7. She was 84 years old. Saeko came to the United States as an international student of the Fulbright Foundation in 1968, and in 1970 she founded the Saeko Ichinohe Dance Company, where she was active as an artistic director, dancer, and choreographer. Sachiko received the Minister of Foreign Affairs Award for her contributions to raising American interest in Japanese art.


Ayako Uchiyama passed away at Isabella House on June 24 at the age of 95. Ms. Uchiyama was active in New York as a pioneer of Japanese dance. She was born in Sapporo City in 1925, learned to dance from the age of six, arranged the traditional Ainu ritual “Iyomante” in a modern style and performed and received the Cultural Encouragement Award from Hokkaido. She studied under Martha Graham in 1957. In 1964, she performed in the United States with Toshi Ichiyanagi and Yoko Ono in a program at Japan Society and the Consulate General of Japan in NY. Over the next 23 years, she held demonstrations and lectures on traditional Japanese culture, mainly at universities across the United States and Canada, and was praised as a private cultural ambassador. Until recently, she had performed at the Hokkaido Association and at JAA’s Keirokai.

Ranko Iwamoto passed away on June 24 at her home in Riverdale. She was 90 years old. After studying at Boston University, Ms. Iwamoto wrote many articles and books as a journalist based in New York. She worked for 14 years as Chief and Senior Vice President at the public relations company Router & Finn. She established “Ranko International” in 1974, contributing to the popularization of Japanese products in the United States. In her later years, she served on the board of directors of New York Ikuei Gakuen School.


Kunio Iizuka passed away on July 14 at Mount Sinai Hospital. He was 81 years old. Born in Tokyo in 1939, Iizuka moved to the United States in 1961 after graduating from Ochanomizu Art Academy, and later taught at the Art Students League in New York. In 1973, he founded the New York Japanese Artists Association and became its president. Many of his works were created with “anti-nuclear” and “humanism” themes. He received the Medal of Honor from the Japanese government in 1998. Kunio entertained people with the deep sound of his singing voice at our Keirokai.


Noboru Sato passed away at home on July 31. He was 96 years old. Sato served as President of JAA from 1989 to 90. He was born in Nagaoka City, Niigata. After graduating from Chuo University, he moved to the U.S. in 1952 and entered UCLA. He moved to New York in 1954 and founded “Asahi Trading” in 1960 in addition to AZUMA, which sold imported products from Japan. He married his wife Kikue in 1958 and raised three children (their oldest son, Koji is currently a Vice President of JAA). In 1996, Sato was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays by the Japanese government for his achievements in popularizing Japanese products in the United States. He also served as an advisor to New York Ikuei Gakuen and Honorary Chairman of Chuo University’s New York Hakumon Association.

The Recipients
the 50th Anniversary JAA Scholarship Awards

●MUFG Scholarship ($10,000 plus Round Trip Air Ticket to Japan, courtesy of All Nippon Airways)
AKANEH WANG, Bronx High School of Science, Princeton University
●JAA Murase Scholarship ($7,500)
SAMUEL GENTA IGARASHI BURNS, Staples High School, Indiana University Bloomington
●Dr. Soji Tomikawa Scholarship ($7,500)
RINA FELICIA HISAJIMA, Hunter College High School, Cornell University
●Dr. Tatsuji Namba Scholarship ($6,000)
SUMIKA IIJIMA , Bronx High School of Science, Boston University
●Delta Air Lines Scholarship ($5,000)
MIA PADBERG, Montclair High School, Northeastern University (Born NY NY)
●John & Miyoko Davey Scholarships($5,000×5 =$25,000)
AIKO LYDIA GERRA, HS of Math Science & Engineering, Cooper Union Univ Engineering
HELENA OIWA, Brooklyn Technical High School, Cornell Univ Engineering
KAORU ESTHER OKAMOTO, Alger Independence HS, Agnes Scott College
CHRISTOPHER SHOGO TSUCHIYA, Scotch Plains Fanwood HS, New York University -Stern
NATALIE NATSUMI YUGE, Hicksville HS, Stony Brook University
●Orient Corporation of America Scholarship ($5,000)
KAREN MOGAMI, Fiorello H LaGuardia HS, Vassar College
●Ichinohe・Horishige Scholarship ($5,000)
MEI CECILIA GELLER, LaGuardia HS of Music & Art and Performing Arts, Princeton University
●TV JAPAN Scholarship ($3,000)
ALEXANDER JOHN GILSON, Bronx High School of Science, Binghamton University
●Ambassador Shinichi Nishimiya Scholarship ($2,000)
HANA NATALIE KROUSE, Pleasantville High School, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
●ANA Japan Travel Scholarship ($1,000 plus Round Trip Air Ticket to Japan)
SARA SAWANISHI HISHINUMA ,Choate Rosemary Hall, Cornell University

14th JAA HONJO Scholarship Awards


●Yeuk Angelo Wong ($4,000)
Ph.D candidate at Columbia Univ Dept East Asian Languages and Culture;
Undergrad Univ of Hong Kong Focus on Japanese folklore
●Christopher Yuji Shimamoto ($6,000)
Student at Columbia Univ. School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA);
Undergrad Univ of Pennsylvania Interest in strategic issues in northeast Asia
●Julian Richardson ($6,000)
Columbia Business School & SIPA; Undergrad Univ of Penn.
Focus on international finance
●Chan Yong Bu ($4,000)
Ph.D Candidate Princeton, East Asian Studies; Undergrad Yonsei University
Focus on Japanese metallic toys, steel as a medium of exchange among the US, Korea and Japan
●Masatoshi Honda ($4,000)
Ph.D Electrical Engineering candidate Columbia Univ School of Engineering;
Undergrad Univ of Tokyo. Focus on biomedical engineering,
founded a biotech startup
●Chisato Kario (6,000)
Studying at SIPA; Undergrad Keio Univ
Focus on reducing world poverty and promoting gender equality


Project Bento Volunteer List

Dr. Yuzuru Anzai, Eiko Aono, Hikaru Aono, Dr. Maria Benedetto-Anzai, Yuichi Chimura, Noriko Furuhata-Taylor, Jen Green, Kazumi Haramo, Yoshimasu Haramo, David Hiromura, George Hirose, Hatsue Honda, Stan Honda, Yuji Horimoto, Kaoru Ikeda, Natsuko Ikegami, Taeco Ishida, Mike Ishii, Tadayuki Ito, Rich Kameda, Justin Katayama, Iwao Kato, Shizuko Kato, Hiroshi Kishiro, Eri Kurobe, Ann Levin, Kumiko Makihara, Taro Makihara, Kiyo Matsumoto, Tsuneko Mitsunaka, Mari Morimoto, Gary Moriwaki, Mika Murai, Atsushi Muramoto, Kenji Nakano, Naomi Niwa, Suzanne Okada, Peter Rozie Jr., Earl Shimabukuro, Ricki Shimabukuro, Noriyasu Shimano, Aiko Shimizu, Hiroko Shimizu, Michi Tahara, Anneliese Kazumi Takeshige, Dr. Matsuko Takeshige, Casey Taniguchi, Rob Taylor, Nina Theisen, Leo Theisen, Kazushi Udagawa, Joey Vetrano, Megumi Vogelmann, Tom Vogelmann, Motoe Yakiyama, Tomiko Yazawa, Tsuya Yee, Erina Yoshida, Monica Yuki, and Taro Zimmerman

Isabella House: Mary Ito, Keiko Nakano, Kazuyo Wilder

Eiko Aono, Namie Appelbaum, Uyanga Ayar, Minako Bremar, Mana Hashimoto, Loy Hashimoto, Rev. Earl Ikeda, Kaoru Ikeda, Natsuko Ikegami, Ania Ishizaki, Antoinette Jones, Naoko Kagawa, Fred Katayama, Sandra Kenny, Toshiko Kobayashi, Yuko Kobayashi, Dorothy Kolev, Sumi Kubota Kanter, Kaoriko Kuge, Eri Kurobe, Satomi Lore, Chiemi Machida, Miwa McGuinness, Migiwa Miyajima, Mari Matsumoto, Naomi Miyakita, Naomi Mizoguchi, Atsuko Nakajima-Healy, Michiyo Noda, Chie Onodera, Susan Onuma, Miho Sakai, Mina Taguchi, Yuko Takagi, Mariko Uyabu, Akiko Yamamoto, Emi Yamasaki, and Tomiko Yazawa

Very special thanks to Dr. Joshua Walker and his staff at Japan Society for sponsoring Eel Day Keirokai on July 30 and Mitsui USA Foundation for sponsoring Keiro no Hi on September 21.

Mask Volunteers:

Nancy Alexander, Eiko Aono, Hikaru Aono, Namie Appelbaum, Yoko Ebihara, Akiyo Furukawa, Midori Goto, Yuji Horimoto, Takako Imura, Marc Iyeki, Toshiko Kobayashi, Chizuko Korn, Priscilla Li, Yoko Katsumi Michaud, Tsuneko Mitsunaka, Keiko Nakano, Miho Negrao, Kyoko Ohnishi, Teresa Saito, Hiroko Shimizu, Toshiko Suzuki, Mina Taguchi, Michi Tahara, Akemi Takeda, Rie Taniguchi, Lisa Tashiro, Mayumi Tsuchino, Keiko Tsuyama, and Tomoko Watanabe

We also had an anonymous donor in Japan who sent us 500 masks.

Without your efforts, we would have been unable to do this.
Happy Project Bento! Thank you very much!

Project Bento Committee