"I am a product of Jtown, and it is who I am"
One of the reasons we created our "Japantown" Uniform Tee collection was to provide a space for folks to share their own #japantownsf stories. Here at SokoSF, we believe in the diversity of a community, and part of that is celebrating how we all have unique perspectives, experiences and love for this space we call Japantown.
We are excited to share a #japantownsf story by Grace Horikiri!
As a kid I grew up hanging around Jtown attending Morning Star School and Kinmon Gakuen (where my mom was a principal), participating as a day camp kid at @jcycsf which eventually led to becoming a day camp counselor, participating in the various programs and in the 80s a Board member. In those formative years I volunteered at @kimochi.incorporated Nutrition Program when it was housed at Konko Church, marched alongside with our community brothers and sisters at CANE (Community Against Nihonmachi Evictions) rallies and learned the art of silk screening at JAM Workshop. Hanging out at Benkyodo was an everyday thing.
At the first @nihonmachisf I was just a junior high kid that was amazed with the community spirit of the young people and volunteer efforts by the founders, Steve Nakajo, Ron and Kenny Kanzaki. That’s where kids like myself, Rich “Juebop” Jue, Richard Hashimoto, Jonny Nagano and many others were exposed to that “Volunteer Spirit.” Throughout the years these “kids” got involved in the planning of the NSF in various capacities.
26 years ago when Ron Kanzaki handed the baton to Pat Fong and myself to lead the organization, we had no clue what it meant and what it involved. We didn’t have to look far to get guidance. Our community brothers and sisters where there to mentor us and guide us along the way.
I am a product of Jtown and it is who I am.
The exposure I had as a kid, the opportunities I have had throughout the years whether it was being part of the @nc_cbf Committee, working on various community events and leading the Nihonmachi Street Fair has all led me to my current role as the Executive Director or the @japantowncbd.
These hands-on experiences are what I hope to instill in our young people. Many NSF Committee members have gone on to being great leaders in our AP communities. That is something I am very proud of and is the heart of the Nihonmachi Street Fair: to mentor our young people so that they can be leaders in our community.
I’m sure each generation’s elders had their hopes and concerns about the future of Japantown.
To me the key to keeping Japantown thriving is making sure that we have good communication in our community. To work together for the sake of Japantown, to keep those who live, work and visit our neighborhood safe and to be good stewards and take care of one of the last remaining Japantowns in the United States.
It also means that current leaders in our community help nuture future leaders. Give them the opportunity to take on responsibilities and be there to guide them along the way.
Even today I am very fortunate to still be mentored by my community brothers and sisters like Sandy Mori, Steve Nakajo, David Ishida and many others. They have all played an important role in who I am today and my commitment to Japantown.
We have so many great young people doing great things for the sake of Japantown. Let’s keep cheering them on and highlighting their efforts."