Our mission is to educate youth about Japanese culture and Japanese American history through hands on activities. Each day started with exercise to get their intellectual and emotional juices going. This year’s 's high point was the Hagoita which is a Japanese toy that is elaborately decorated. Paul Jonokuchi prepared each wooden paddle while Mitzi Kushida selected the authentic male and female faces that adorned them. Ayumi Inoue, teacher from JLI, and we are especially proud of our two new teachers, Molly Serizawa and Jaymie Takeshita who taught Japanese language classes. In developing future leaders, we are proud of Jenna Matsushita and Kayla Aihara who were tremendous teacher assistants. Joseph Welch helped every day and was much appreciated by our menfolk. Kayla Chong, Peggy Furutani, Megan Ikemoto, Taryn Manaka, and Kylie Okazaki were awesome Junior TAs. With such a dynamic staff, many of the campers returned from the 2011 roster.
Thank you to the Japanese Language Institute for the use of their classrooms and to the Community Center members like the ping pong club, the ukelele club, and mandolin club that cleared the gym schedule so we would have a place for our final show. Lois Okui designed and published the colorful program booklet.
This year’s field trip was a visit to Nikkei Senior Gardens. Co-chair, Linda Tanaka, taught the children how to make a handmade scroll with beloved Sakura (pink cherry blossoms). These gifts were presented to the audience by the campers teaching the children about the virtues of compassion and gratitude. The visual and performing art of singing and dancing brightened NSG's lunch room big time. Head teacher, Nancy Gohata, planned and organized experiences such as making sushi, arts and crafts noted below, and singing eight songs. Nancy's favorite was ame, ame fure fure, the rain song. The kids loved to sing chi-chi-pa-pa! Kai Sugahara and Miku Inoue sang outstanding solos.
Suzume no Gakkou summer camp is a Labor of Love. So many helped with making each day special for the kids. We appreciate the teachers, volunteers, and parents . So many people of all ages helped in so many ways. Priscilla Mui taught the kids how to make maki sushi! Marion Shigekuni ran snack time with contributions from the parents. We want to say thank you to all of the parents and grandparents who came each day especially to Gene and Genevieve Lew. Special welcome back to Kiyo and Sho Doi!
Special thanks to Jill Clever, Kaori Hal, Priscilla Mui, and Saeko Orozco who made forty seven bright green Hapi coats while Al Tokunaga expertly silkscreened the logo on it.. About twenty four children danced at the SFVHBT obon with their Hapi coats or delicate soft hued yukatas. We received a lot of compliments for their part in dancing at the obon on Sunday. Nancy Oda read stories that were traditional and/or based on JA history while visiting mothers folded origami turtle, boat, or house paper squares to remind them of the main ideas. Since Urashima Taro was an example of kindness to animals, Roy Sugahara helped the kids write haiku for their chosen animal that they loved. Kay Yamada followed up with a "Urashima Taro" up book. The other titles were "How Baseball Saved Us," and "Where Sunflowers Grow". Each child received a sunflower plant from seeds donated by Dorothy Oda. Thank you to the late Dr. Sanbo Sakaguchi who donated a book for each child. Other donations came from Cathy Krohn, Kisui Fujimoto, Hazel Isa, Linda Kuratomi, Rouxann Kuwata, Isabelle Miyata, Barbara Nakatsu, Harriet Nishizaka, Pauline Okutake, Reiko Sauer, Patty Takayama, and Karen Yoshino. The kids decorated their own "Bachan's Goodie Bags." On the last day, guest experts like Kaneshiro Sensei demonstrated the ancient martial art of kendo with his two growing sons. Master Akira Kimura brought three gorgeous bonsai. Sensei Ritsuko Shinbashi created exquisite ikebana arrangements. Sensei Setsuko Murakawa showed kimekomi artwork. These exhibits gave students and their families a top notch experience with the valley's living treasures. Everyone took home memories of new friends, great food, and Japanese traditions and culture.
Next year SNG as it is affectionately called is planned for June 17-21, 2014. Don't sign up late!!
- By Nancy Oda, SNG Co-Chair and President, San Fernando Valley JACC.