Tonari Gumi & JCCA Joint Anniversary Dinner a Great Success!

On Saturday, June 8th, some 325 people from throughout the community gathered for an enjoyable evening of good food, prizes and friendship.  Welcomed into the renewed Pink Pearl Chinese Restaurant by the beat of Chibi Taiko’s drumming, the event literally started with a bang—or at least a boom.  John Greenaway, an accomplished taiko drummer himself and editor of the GVJCCA Bulletin magazine, took on the task of Master of Ceremonies and ensured that the evening unfolded with good memories and cultural renewal.  In attendance, and acknowledged as honourary guests, were Japanese Consul General Seiji Okada and his wife; Vancouver City Councilor, Kerry Jang; and John and Phyllis Hamada, brother and sister-in-law of Jun Hamada, the founder of Tonari Gumi.

Joy Kogawa, as our keynote speaker, focused the attention of the audience on how the community was changing, asking those in attendance to identify their birthplaces.  Joy was surprised that those of Japanese birth were the largest group in attendance that evening, suggesting that the community was continuing to evolve and renew itself.  While the JCCA had largely been dominated by the prewar Issei and Nissei, Tonari Gumi was now attracting the postwar immigrants from Japan and a younger generation of volunteers who were taking up the challenge of serving the community.  Joy’s comments were thought-provoking and provided food for thought on how the community was regenerating and the responsibilities of Tonari Gumi and the JCCA in responding to these new challenges.  Takeo Yamashiro, supported by Tamio Wakayama’s background images of Tonari Gumi’s early days, recalled the spirit of service upon which Tonari Gumi had been founded.  Gordon Kadota, recalled the beginnings of the Greater Vancouver JCCA, and issued a challenge to the current organization to respond to the new needs of the community.  Kozue Matsumoto and Yuriko Nariya on the koto and Minoru Yamamoto on the shakuhachi provided a haunting preamble to Joy Kogawa’s keynote address. 

Throughout the evening, energetic Tonari Gumi volunteers sold raffle tickets and manned the silent auction tables.  We were thrilled by the enthusiastic and generous responses of our guests.  The raffle grand prize of a massive basket of Japanese food items brought together by our Tonari Gumi Craft Club was won by Grace Eiko Thomson and the second prize of a gorgeous potted flower donated by Hanamo Florist was won by Paul Reed.

A listing of our raffle and silent auction donors are as follows:

Grand Donors:  Emiko Ando, Taiga Chiba, Hiro Urakami

Gold Donors:  Keiko Alexander, ASM Natural Products Inc., D Way Beverages Inc., Les & Amy Fugeta, Ed Hamazaki, Hanamo Florist, Hy’s Steak House, JTB International Canada, Kim’s Mart/Sakuraya, Joy Kogawa, Tsuneko Kokubo, Listel Hotel Canada, Master Framers, Naoe McGuire, Cindy Mochizuki, Murata Art, Northern Light Travel Ltd., Seaborn Enterprises Inc., Seto Sushi, Kinichi Shigeno, Dennis Shikaze, Sushiyama, Naoko Takenouchi, OK Gift Shop, Grace Eiko Thomson, Tojo’s Restaurant, Tonari Gumi Craft Club, Henry and Yvonne Wakabayashi, Woogie’s Magic Lamp

Table Donor:  Bob Nimi.

Special appreciation is extended to all of the volunteers and staff who assisted in bringing this amazing event to fruition.  For more photos please click here!