San Francisco Japantown Foundation Awards Grants to 15 Organizations for 2008

The San Francisco Japantown Foundation last night announced the recipients of its 2008 grants during a presentation event at the Asian Art Musuem.

The foundation’s 2008 competitive grants totaled $25,000 and were divided among 12 organizations in varying amounts of $5,000 or less.  The foundation also approved $65,000 in special grants, made possible by an additional donation from Jack Hirose, to three Japantown organizations: Nihonmachi Little Friends, Kimochi, Inc. and Golden Gate Optimist Club.

Organizations receiving competitive grants include:

Bay Area Day of Remembrance – $1,000 for Day of Remembrance 2008 – Carrying the Light for Justice will include a film presentation, cultural performances, keynote speaker, and a candle lighting ceremony at the Sundance Kabuki Theatre (pending), a procession through Japantown to the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California, concluding with an interfaith gathering and reception.

California Japanese American Community Leadership Council  – $4,000 to support scholarship and program related expenses for two participants of the 2009 Nikkei Community Internship (NCI) Program. Each intern will support and increase their understanding of the work of community organizations in San Francisco’s Japantown. 

Cherry Blossom Alumnae – $1,500 for the 2nd Annual Cherry Blossom Alumnae Conference in 2009, “What It Means to Be a Japanese American Woman Today,” a gathering of Japanese American women. The Cherry Blossom Alumnae organization seeks to give back to the Japanese American community through volunteerism, education, cultural appreciation, leadership and financial support.

Cherry Blossom Festival – $4,000 to support keeping as many of the Cherry Blossom Festival’s exhibit and demonstration spaces in Japantown venues and to help defray operating expenses such as costs associated with street closures.

Genryu Arts (Gen Taiko) – $1,000 to support the O-Matsuri Project, an arts training program for high school youth in August 2009 culminating in the 2010 Oshogatsu Festival Celebration at the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California. Through the program, high school youth will learn performance works integrating taiko drumming and dance and prepare a public culminating performance at the Oshogatsu Festival.

Japanese American Citizens League – $1,500 to support 2009 Project Community, a program that seeks to educate college-bound high school students from the Bay Area on the importance of community and identity, and how these issues are historically vital to understanding Japantown and how it will be affected in the future.

Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California – $4,000 to support the Center’s 17th Annual Kodomo No Hi (Children’s Day) Festival and School Visit Program in its efforts to share with a more diverse audience.

Michiya Hanayagi Japanese Dance Studio – $1,000 to support the studio’s 51st classical dance recital in Spring 2009.

National Japanese American Historical Society – $1,000 to support the Digital Storytelling Youth Arts and Heritage Program that actively involves youth in Japantown cultural and historic preservation and interpretation, disseminates information on Japantown history through digital stories about community members and historic moments and trains youth in communication skills including public speaking, writing, editing and video production.

Nihonmachi Merchants Association – $1,000 to support the association’s ongoing efforts to  increase the number of visitors to Japantown as well as to ensure the economic viability of the community through various events and activities.

San Francisco Mishibana-Kai of Nihon Minyo Buyo Renmei – $4,000 to support the production of a 15th anniversary celebration of Mishibana-Kai with a traditional Japanese dance performance in Japantown and other culturally based performances, including but not limited to koto (traditional stringed musical instrument) and karaoke (singing), to share, preserve and introduce aspects of Japanese culture.

X-Perience – $1,000 to support the production of the “My Japantown” pamphlet, a compilation of things to do, places to visit, foods and shopping tips — all from the viewpoint of middle school-aged children who have grown up being part of the Japantown community.

This was the foundation’s second disbursement of awards since being founded in December 2006. The grants were provided to nonprofit groups with cultural, community and educational activities that the Foundation determined best promote and support San Francisco’s Japantown.

The foundation was formed through generous initial endowments by Kintetsu Enterprises of America, Jack Hirose, Hats and Amey Aizawa, Union Bank of California and Minami Tamaki LLP, which is also doing the foundation’s pro bono legal work.

The organization is dedicated to preserving and honoring Japantown’s history, to welcoming and serving its residents, visitors, businesses, congregations and community organizations, and to supporting the growth and development of the community. In particular, the foundation supports activities that reflect the Japanese American experience, and activities that engage Japanese of all generations and all experiences in America.

The Foundation board is comprised of: Hats Aizawa; Bob Hamaguchi; Richard Hashimoto, Japantown Merchants Association; Jack Hirose; Keith Kamisugi; Eiji Miwa; Sandy Mori, Japantown Task Force, Inc.; Jon Osaki; Allen Okamoto, Sakura Matsuri, Inc.; Donald K. Tamaki, Minami Tamaki LLP (board president); and June-Ko Nakagawa, Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Northern California. Deputy Consul General Hideyuki Mitsuoka of the Consulate General of Japan serves as an advisory member.

The foundation welcomes additional grants and donations. Donations to the Foundation can be made online on this site or made payable to “San Francisco Japantown Foundation” and addressed to San Francisco Japantown Foundation, c/o Minami Tamaki LLP, 360 Post Street, 8th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94108.

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