The Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival’s Senior Appreciation Brunch started 30 years ago to thank seniors in the local Japanese American community for their volunteer services. Each year, honorees are nominated by senior centers and receive certificates of commendation from elected officials. Following the brunch, they are recognized at the Peace Plaza Stage for their commitment to the Japanese community.

This year’s Senior Appreciation Brunch will take place at the Hotel Kabuki on Sunday, April 21, 2019.

2019 Honorees

The Buddhist Church of San Francisco (BCSF) is honored to nominate Sadako Kashiwagi for recognition at this year’s Senior Appreciation Brunch.  Sadako was born in Sacramento, California and was interned at Tule Lake.  She graduated with a BA degree from Sacramento State University. After raising her three sons, she returned to receive an MA from UC Berkeley in Library Sciences and worked for the San Francisco Public Library as a Children’s Librarian until her retirement.  Sadako and her husband, Hiroshi, have been leaders at BCSF and the San Francisco Japantown community for the last 40 years. Sadako has served on the church Board of Directors, member of the organizing team for the community Mochitsuki, Day of Remembrance and the Tule Lake Pilgrimage.  She has also been active with the church’s Dharma School and as the official Buddhist Women’s Association (BWA) representative to the Hompa-Fukuoka Exchange Program in 2016 and attended the Go-Monshu Accession Ceremony in Kyoto, Japan. The Kashiwagi’s will be moving from San Francisco this year and the Church would like to honor Sadako to show appreciation for her lifelong support of BCSF and the Japantown community.

The Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival Executive Committee’s honoree is Shigeru Kimura.  Shigeru has been involved with the Cherry Blossom Festival since its inception in 1968, the same year he moved to San Francisco from Japan.  As an independent business owner in Japantown, he has been asked by various Festival Chairs over the years to serve in various capacities and take responsibilities of committees.  He has served as the Committee Chair for the Japan Groups and coordinated performances at the Kabuki Theatre; the coordinator for the Festival posters and booklets; coordinator of the Grand Parade Committee; Chair of the Festival’s Golf Tournament; and Chair and representative of the Taru Mikoshi Ren.  Shigeru willingly volunteers at the Festival to further perpetuate the Japanese culture and traditions while giving everyone the opportunity to enjoy the arts and learn more aboutJapan.  He is also involved in many community organizations in a variety of roles and responsibilities.  Shigeru was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun Gold and Silver Rays in 2010.

The Nikkei Lions Club is honored to nominate David and Joan Fujita.  The couple has volunteered for years in club activities that support the Japantown community and led the effort to establish the Nikkei Lions Crab and Spaghetti Feed fundraiser.  David and Joan are involved at every level to ensure the event is successful in raising funds. They can be seen shopping for supplies, buying the crab, setting up tables and chairs, selling tickets, cooking and serving diners.  This fundraiser is held annually with proceeds given to non-profit organizations to assist in supporting programs and services in the community. Past recipients include the Japanese Cultural and Community Center, National Japanese American Historical Society, Nihonmachi Little Friends, Japanese Community Youth Council, Kimochi, Inc., and many others.  They were interned with their respective families during WWII. David has worked with Moriwaki, Imai, Fujita (MIF) Insurance Agency for 40 years while Joan raised their children. They are also active with youth basketball and the Berkeley Methodist Church. The Lions are grateful for their leadership over the years and are pleased to submit them for recognition this year.

Yu-Ai Kai’s first honoree is Teruye (Terry) Oshidari.  Born while her family was interned at Amache, Colorado, Terry attended UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco where she received a BS in Dental Hygiene.  In September 2018, she retired after 50 years as a dental hygienist. Terry has volunteered for Yu-Ai Kai’s lunch program for 45 years; she is their longest lunch server! She began volunteering with her friend, Marge Tsuji, who were both mothers who wanted to support Yu-Ai Kai.  She also volunteered to help with Yu-Ai Kai’s Fashion Show and other activities including annual Mochitsuki and the Nihonmachi Run. Terry’s desire to volunteer grew from her connection with family. Her parents lived in Yuba City where they received lunches from a local Meals on Wheels program.  The meals were not Asian, and Terry said “Yu-Ai Kai serving Asian meals is a huge plus.” Because she could not be close enough to help her parents, she wants to help others. Along with her husband Tom, Terry is also active with other San Jose Japantown based groups including Fuji Towers Board of Directors, San Jose JACL, and San Jose Buddhist Church.  

Roy Okano was born in Hiroshima, Japan and came to California after the war.  He is a former Textbook Designer. Roy heard of the Kimochi San Mateo site from a friend at his church and offered to volunteer as an art instructor for the residents.  He teaches class three times a month and the seniors look forward to completing paintings with him. At first, many were reluctant to participate because they feel their work will be like a grade school student.  Roy tells them, “You are in the second stage of school and life and you can do this!” Roy feels the most rewarding experience of volunteering is “getting to see the happiness of the seniors when they create beautiful artwork.  Each art piece is a medal of achievement, a gold medal.” The pieces are being displayed at Kimochi San Mateo where family and visitors can enjoy them. Roy hopes to organize an art show for the seniors in the future. Kimochi, Inc. is proud to recognize Roy as its first honoree from Kimochi San Mateo!

Yu-Ai Kai ‘s second honoree is Norman (Norm) Ishikawa.  Born and raised in San Jose, Norman is a retired Systems Manager at Hewlett Packard and received his BA from UC Berkeley in Biological Sciences.  After he retired in 2015 he came right to Yu-Ai Kai to start volunteering. His father, Moffet, served with the MIS and came to Yu-Ai Kai’s lunch program every day and Norm became the lunch receptionist and comes every Tuesday to help at the program and is in charge of the online attendance list.  He also helps with the Second Harvest Brown Bag program arriving at 7:30am at the Buddhist Church twice a month to help prepare bags of food for the elderly as well as a docent with the Tech Museum and volunteers withthe Health Trust Jerry Lawson Food Basket and Yu-Ai Kai’s Nihonmachi Run.  He and his wife, Joni, are strong Yu-Ai Kai supporters. Norm said, “I am grateful for all the help and services Yu-Ai Kai provides to the community and personally to my family.  That’s why I volunteer and give back to this organization.”

Yasuyo Floyd is nominated by Sakura Kai Senior Center, where she is the instructor of their Japanese computer and Wi-Fi class.  She assists members on using computers and learning how to connect to information available on the Internet. She began her association with Sakura Kai when she moved her 87-year-old mother from Japan to live with her in Oakland and wanted to find social activities for her to enjoy.  She was asked by the Center Coordinator if she would like to volunteer and she began by helping as a kitchen volunteer and soon was identified for her computer skills. She also assists as a medical escort helping seniors to get to doctor’s appointments and providing translation assistance during visits.  She finds there is a critical need for this support. Born in Tokyo, Japan, Yasuyo went to school in both the United States and Japan but spent the war years in Japan. She states, “I grew up in the era in Japan when elderly people are respected and revered to possess a lot of wisdom and knowledge from years of life experiences.  I have learned and enjoyed so much my connections with senior members at Sakura Kai since I started volunteering.”

Eden Japanese Senior Center is recognizing their Eden Seniors Kitchen Volunteers who provide caring and valuable support for their lunch program.  During the past five decades the kitchen volunteers have changed and evolved and currently are represented by Nisei, Kibei, Shin-Issei, and Sansei volunteers. The volunteers are represented by Michiko Matsumoto and Ruby Kuritsubo.  Michi began volunteering 13 years ago and is certified for Food Safety and Sanitation and attends quarterly meetings and trainings with the County. Ruby began volunteering 20 years ago after retiring from her job as a medical technologist.  She helps wherever needed and ensures meals are served in a warm and welcoming environment. They work with a team to offer lunches as part of the Spectrum Community Services, Inc. Senior Meals Program. Nutritionally balanced lunches are provided to 25-30 seniors twice a month. The program is an integral part of the Center’s activity program.  According to the Center leaders, “the kitchen volunteers help the Eden Senior meetings run smoothly. Their volunteerism allows the seniors to participate in planned activities during the meeting, then to enjoy hot lunch served to them. The Eden seniors appreciate and thank the kitchen volunteers!”