Two Years After

On March 26th I visited Ishinomaki and the surrounding towns with our friends from Peace Boat, with whom we have formed a great partnership.

Traveling along the coast, one is struck by the natural beauty of the mountains, the forests and especially the ocean which, as a bizarre side effect of the tsunami, is amazingly clear. So clear and clean that this years’ oyster harvest is expected to be exceptional – they take two years to grow sufficiently.

The main part of "Ishi" (Ishinomaki) is clean and free of debris. The coastal areas however, are unchanged since past visits. Vast areas are debris free but they are actually empty lots, shuttered businesses or are open businesses with few patrons. Very sad. Each time we visit we ask, "are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future of the area". The NGO folks are indomitable, "it’s like flying a kite" they say, "only if you go against the wind will you rise".

On the negative front: increasing depression as residents see little progress; more suicides (anecdotal as there seem to be no official records); delayed infrastructure rebuilding or misdirected/ill conceived reconstruction and "hollowing out." This last issue is a major one. Onogawa, a small municipality that is surrounded by Ishinomaki, had a population of 11,000 on March 10, 2011. One year later it was 7,000 and today it is 5,000. The town’s main employer is the now shuttered nuclear power plant. Onogawa will probably never recover. Ishinomaki itself has dwindled from 150,000 to less than 120,000 and is losing 1,000 people per month. Again once the young and vigorous people who have moved away are entrenched in their new lives, Ishinomaki will be hard pressed to attract them back. Further, the construction boom now being experienced in many areas of Tohoku will come to an end – although this is something of a misnomer since a lot of the construction is actually the demolition of existing dangerous structures.

And yet signs of hope. The Manga Museum is open for business. Oyster and nori processing plants have restarted or begun anew. One nori plant we visited owned by a Mr. Abe has gone into a business partnership with a non profit-great nori by the way. Peace Boat, following the example of WWOOF, is embedding 20-25 volunteers a week with oyster farmers and nori farmers to perform tough manual labor. The volunteers are expected to stay in touch with the farmers so that they and their friends may become customers of the farmers. There is use of social media and the Internet as well. An idea still on the drawing boards is to bring loads of volunteers to the mountains adjoining the coast to cut down many of the coniferous cedar trees (sugi) and replace them with leafy trees. In that way, as the new trees shed their leaves in autumn they will carry nutrients from the forest to the ocean, where the oysters feed. The cedar trees would be used for fuel.

So all hope is not lost but most importantly, our joint efforts and constant visits to the region serve to remind the people of Tohoku that they are not forgotten.

Gary S. Moriwaki

Donation Update

We donated $50,000 to Japanese NGO "Shalom" which provides respite weekends to children who are otherwise home bound in Fukushima Prefecture.

Artist Mr. Naoto Nakagawa founded JAA Japan Disaster Relief Fund-1000 portraits of Hope Fund at JAA. He is one of the artists of the JAA Art Exhibition in May. He will explain his project on May 9 at the "Tea Time" Talk.

Welcome Reception for HS Students

On March 27, a Welcome Reception for HS Students from Tohoku was held by JAA and NECTJ (Northeast Council of Teachers of Japanese) at the JAA Hall. Five students, Yuki Otsuki from Fukushima, Shiho Kawasumi from Iwate, Shun Sugawara from Miyagi, Kota Sarishi from Iwate and Iruru Yamazaki from Miyagi, spoke in English about their experiences with the tsunami and earthquake. They did home stays with American families during their visits in NY from 3/26 to 4/6.

2013 Scholarship Program
The Keynote speaker will be
the Honorable George R. Packard,
President of the US – Japan Foundation.

JAA has been accepting application forms for our 43rd JAA Scholarship. Since 1971, The Japanese American Association of New York, Inc. has awarded scholarships to graduating high school students of Japanese descent living in the tri-state area who are applying to United States institutions of higher learning. The scholarships to be awarded this year will again range from $2,000 to $10,000 with two round trip NY/Tokyo tickets courtesy of All Nippon Airways. We have named a new scholarship for the late Ambassador Shinichi Nishimiya, Mrs. Nishimiya will attend the dinner and present this award.
JAA members and friends are urged to encourage high school seniors to apply immediately. The awards will be presented at the Annual Scholarship Dinner which is scheduled to be held on Thursday, June 6, 2013 at the Harvard Club in NYC. The Keynote speaker will be the Honorable George R. Packard, President of the US – Japan Foundation.

For questions and requirements for this year’s scholarship see or call JAA.

MAY 13, 2013.
Seven Honjo Graduate students awards will be made.

9th JAA Sakura Matsuri

A "snow fountain" (white weeping cherry) tree was planted in Memory of The Honorable Ambassador Shinichi Nishimiya.

Soh Daiko Group

JAA Chorus

Urasenke tea ceremony

Hanagasa Dance Group
On Saturday, April 20th, the ninth Sakura Matsuri was held at Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Greetings from Ambassador Shigeyuki Hiroki, Consul General of Japan in NY and from Parks Commissioner Veronica M. White, delivered by Janice Melnick, Park Administrator for Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Many JAA members came including President Gary Moriwaki, JAA Honorary President Susan J. Onuma, Mrs. Chieko Inagaki, widow of former JAA President Mr. Shigeru Inagaki and her daughter, Sachiko.

The Program included the Soh Daiko Group, playing traditional Japanese Drums, the Tenri Drum and Fife Marching Band led by Michael Yuge, and the JAA Chorus led by Sachie Ueshima. Tomoko Kitamura made and played an ancient Japanese Harp. Folk Dances by Momo Suzuki and her Hanagasa Dance Group were joined by members of the audience. Many people watched The Urasenke tea ceremony on the lawn. A "snow fountain" (white weeping cherry) tree was planted in Memory of The Honorable Ambassador Shinichi Nishimiya. Buses brought JAA members and friends to enjoy the program and the 300 obento served by many volunteers. Mrs. Inagaki was again a generous supporter.

The Sakura Committee Co-Chairs were Yusuke Iwasaki and Suki Terada Ports with members Julie Azuma, Shuji Kato, Marianne Yoshioka and Gene Yuzawa. The Parks Department staff once again worked very hard setting up the tables and chairs, loudspeaker system and flags coordinated by Matt Symonds and Danny Miller. Next year will be the 10th Anniversary of our Sakura Matsuri. We will kick off a special 10th Anniversary Fund to include the replacing of aging trees and adding new varieties and colors.

Spring Flea Market
The Annual Spring Flea Market was held on Saturday, April 6. By 10 am, a long line of prospective shoppers were waiting for the JAA doors to open and when it did, the Hall was immediately filled. The eager shoppers flocked to the various areas of clothes, accessories, food and books. The delicious food was sold out by 1pm. JAA would like to extend its appreciation to all those members who donated goods and to those who helped to setup and sell the goods. We brought in $9,000 !

Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Fund
is closed by May 31, 2013

We have $36,156.00 as 4/25. Committee of Sandy Disaster Relief fund will discuss recipients.

Exhibition of Japanese and
Japanese American Artists Active
in the New York Area 2013

The 18th annual Art Exhibition (co-Chairs: Yoko Sasaki & George Hirose) by the "Japanese and Japanese American Artists in New York" will take place for 9 days from 5/2 to 5/10. Artworks of 33 artists will be displayed at the JAA Hall with 50% of the proceeds going towards the JAA Charitable Fund. Four new artists, George Hirose, Akira Ikezoe, Maho Kino and Naoto Nakagawa are joining.

We will have an opening reception on May 2, from. 5pm-7pm. Supporters include the Consulate General of Japan in NY, the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Nippon Club, Shukan NY Seikatsu and Yomitime.

The 28th JAA Foreign Minister Cup Baseball Tournament

The 28th JAA Foreign Minister Cup Baseball Tournament will begin on May 6th and end in August. 18 teams will be playing in Central Park and Randall’s Island every Sunday Morning. The game schedule is available at the JAA office.


This year, Japan Day will be held on Sunday, May 12, from 9:30am-2:30pm at the Central Park Band Shell. See for more information.

Social Service Committee

March 14: After enjoying a delicious lunch, Master Story teller Sanyutei Kyoraku performed Rakugo. As usual Karaoke was enjoyed and K. Iwaki band gave an enjoyable performance.

March 28: After a "Beef on Rice, Sesame Broccoli and sweet azuki soup" lunch, Rev. Miki Nakura (Higashi Honganji) talked about life, then Mr. Kunimitsu Takahashi gave a shakuhachi concert. French chef Mr. Takayoshi Kato talked about his new book, "American French Recipes" .Books were sold with his autograph. K. Iwaki band performance followed.

April 18: This keirokai was part of the Sakura Health Fair. After Chirashi & Matsukaze-Yaki, Rev. Kenjitsu Nakagaki talked about "Buddhism" then everyone enjoyed Karaoke with K. Iwaki Band members K. Iwaki, Koji Ichida, Niwatorijima, Kunio Iizuka, Yasushi Suzuki and Akio Shirakawa.

News of the Members


Ms. Suki Terada Ports

Ms. Julie Azuma

Ms. Suki Terada Ports, Vice President of JAA was honored with the Consul General’s Commendation on March 12, 2013 at the Ambassador’s residence. Native New Yorker Suki Terada Ports is a prominent community leader for equal rights and social services for Japanese, Japanese Americans and all others in the New York area. As a pioneer in the battle against HIV/AIDS since the 1980s, she co-founded APICHA, MTFA and NMACand has been on many NY and national Boards. a festive reception followed the ceremony. Many friends, family members and colleagues from a diverse array of social institutions attended, including Mayor David Dinkins, Councilwoman Gayle Brewer, Christopher Bates from D.C. and Humberto Cruz and Daniel O’Connell from Albany.

Ms. Julie Azuma, Vice President of JAA went to Japan as one of 2013’s Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD). Ms. Azuma, fellow delegates and U.S. Japan Council President Irene Hirano met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Ambassador John Roos, and others. She said that " Our most memorable Fukushima visit was on the anniversary of the Tsunami at 2:46 on March 11th. We observed an emotional moment of silence while at Odagai-sama Community Center for relocated members of the town of Tomioka. What we learned is that there is a change in the air of new optimism from every quarter. We were so privileged to be in Japan on the edge of a positive future.

Thank you very
much for your support of JAA !

Mr. Bon Yagi with Mr. Moriwaki and Ms. Onuma

Donation 4/30/12
General Account

T.I.C. Group (President Bon Yagi) $2,500
Nobumasa Yoshizawa’s gift $2,000
Report from Membership Committee
As 4/25, 2013

Bingham McCutchen Murase
Brother International Corp.
Japan Airlines International Co.,
JFC Int’l Inc.
ITO EN (North America), Corp.
Kawasaki Heavy Industries (USA),
Mitsubishi Gas Chemical America, Inc. Inc.
Mitsubishi Corporation (America)
Nippon Express Foundation
Orient Corp. of America,
Orix USA Corporation
Sojitz Corp. of America,
The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ

Individual members 3/1-4/25, 2013
GOLD ($1,000): Gary S. Moriwaki
SILVER ($500): Yuzuru Anzai,
Shunichi Homma, Tsuneko Mitsunaka,
Joe Oshima

SUPPORTING ($300): Keiko Kato,
Yoshiko Schilt, Robert Yanagisawa

Mr. Yusuke Iwasaki donated audio system (amplifier, Speaker, Blue ray CD player and I pot) for JAA Hall

Tickets’ Donation

*USA-JAPAN GOODWILL CONCERT at Carnegie Hall on Feb. 8, 2018 100 tickets donated by FSI Enterprise
* Harmonia Opera Company Benefit Concert for the World Premiere of the Echoes of Thousand Cranes at St. Peter’s at Citigroup Center on April 12, 2013, 6 tickets donated by Mr. Noboru Sato.
*"Tamagawa University Taiko Dance Performance" at Miller Theatre, Columbia University on March 29, 2013. Many tickets were donated by Mr. Cappuccino Hirano.
* The Nippon Club Women’s Chorus – 25th Anniversary Concert at the Carnegie Hall on April 20, 2013 10 tickets donated by Ms. Fusako Ohta.
Thank you very much!

Report from JAA Committee on Aging Issues and
the 5th Sakura Health Fair will be in the next issue of JAA News.