By Hiroko Tsuda

The Sacramento Hiroshima Nikkeijin Kai New Year’s celebration was held at the DoubleTree Hotel in Sacramento on Jan. 10. 170 members and friends enjoyed the delicious prime rib luncheon, a staple of the annual New Year’s party gatherings.

After completing 11 years of dedicated service, Molly Kimura announced her retirement as president of the kenjin kai, the largest of its kind in the Sacramento area.

After the announcement, she was congratulated for her service and presented with a bouquet of roses. Bruce Muramoto was welcomed as her successor. Muramoto foresees that the direction of the kenjin Kai has to change from one that was first organized for mutual assistance, to one that meets the needs of the younger generation. To this end he encourages members to join him in planning and updating new objectives for the organization.

Tom Okubo was recognized for his many years of coordinating the annual New Year’s party. From the kindness of his heart and willingness to help the community, he helped coordinate the annual New Year’s party. Mr. Okubo was honored, in absentia, with a “Lifetime Membership” in the Sacramento Nikkeijin Kai.

The newly elected board members are: Rodney Nishikawa, John Yoshikawa and Beverly Tanaka (pending); veteran board members are Mary Ann Miyao, Bruce Muramoto, Alice Kataoka, Virginia Uchida and Hiroko Tsuda. Advisors are: June Sunahara, Molly Kimura, Koso Nodohara, and Joe Kataoka.

The appointed officers are: President Bruce Muramoto, Secretary Alice Kataoka, Treasurer Virginia Uchida and Auditor, Steve Fujimori. The general membership welcomed six new members.

The Na Aikane Ukulele Band of the Sacramento Betsuin provided the delightful entertainment.

Following the musical program, the 2014 Sacramento Hiroshima Nikkeijin Kai Youth Ambassadors to Hiroshima presented their Power Point slide show. The ambassadors, both 17 year-old honor students, seniors at their respective high schools, Reid Masaki and Nicholas (Tsuda) Pietrow gave an interesting account of their all-expense paid trip to Hiroshima, Japan last summer. Mr. Muramoto accompanied them.

The youths were two of 14 in their group, which consisted of youths chosen from the San Francisco, Los Angeles and Hawaii kenjin kais. They met with the vice governor of Hiroshima Prefecture; the mayor of Hiroshima City; participated with students of both Hiroshima University and High School as they toured the campuses and had group discussions. The youth ambassadors were given a tour of the World Culture Heritage sites of the A-Bomb and Peace Memorial Park and Museum, Mazda Museum and Miyajima. They each enjoyed two nights of homestay with families and with their hosts visited the Okonomiyaki Museum. At the museum, they learned to cook okonomiyaki and consumed the delicious Hiroshima, native dish.

This year the Hiroshima Prefectural Government newly commissioned an auxiliary organization, the Hiroshima International Center and invited the American youths to participate in the extensive 10-day all-expense paid, youth exchange program. This program was a cultural exchange for social enrichment as well as an orientation for educational opportunities.

The Sacramento Nikkeijin Kai will continue to observe the Japanese traditional New Year’s celebration and Annual Memorial Services honoring the deceased members of its organization, as well as, host cultural exchanges with groups visiting from Hiroshima.

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