Thank you to everyone who was able to attend the 2010 picnic. For those who were not able to be there, an article about the picnic was in the Rafu Shimpo and can be read here. Ms. Ryoko Nakamura, who wrote the article, graciously allowed me to translate her article into English and post it on our site.
Translation of the second half of the article, which is about the Shizuoka Kenjinkai Picnic.
Original article by Ryoko Nakamura, Rafu Shimpo. Translation by Melinda Egawa.
[Photo caption: Members and guests at the Nanka Shizuoka Kenjinkai Picnic]
[Photo caption: Shizuoka Kenjinkai favorite “Watermelon splitting”]
On the east side of the same park, approximately 70 members of the Nanka Shizuoka Kenjinkai enjoyed the early summer with shaved ice and dishes prepared by members of the women’s auxiliary.
Mr. Egawa, who became president at this year’s New Year’s party, has been participating in kenjinkai events since the 1950s. “In those days, they were at a park near downtown with about 400 people. We have fewer members now, but we wish to continue in order to pass down Japanese American tradition and heritage to the next generation.” He strongly stated, “Our goal for the near future is to make the kenjinkai picnic a big family event.”
In efforts to gain members from the next generation, Ms. Melinda Egawa, fluent in both Japanese and English, was recruited as public relations officer. Ms. Egawa, who is also Pres. Egawa’s daughter, lived in Shizuoka prefecture for a long time and has a deep understanding of not only Japanese language, but Japanese culture and Shizuoka prefecture as well.
“When describing kenjinkais, there is a difference between what Japanese Americans and Japanese people are looking for. For the Kenjinkai to continue, it is essential to find a balance,” she said. She is currently searching for that balance. Also, to spread the understanding about the kenjinkai to the younger generation, she has not only started a homepage and newsletter, but is also using current communication tools such as Facebook and Twitter.
[Photo caption: Mrs. Shoko Kurokawa who says, “I get nostalgic when I come here,” and her children, Kent and Maya. ]
Mr. and Mrs. Tadashi and Shoko Kurokawa, who reside in Long Beach, brought their 11-month-old twins, Kent and Maya with them to the picnic. Mrs. Kurokawa being a former resident of Shizuoka prefecture, they joined the kenjinkai two years ago.
At this year’s picnic, Mrs. Kurokawa met a woman about the same age as her who went to a high school near hers and was in the basketball club, like she was. “When I come here, they play songs from Shizuoka and it feels nostalgic.” Mrs. Kurokawa also said she plans to participate in other kenjinkai activities.
Preparing food days before and waking up at 5am on the day of the picnic, Mrs. Yoko Shiba, president of the women’s auxiliary, said, “I look forward to everyone’s smiling faces. I have never thought of it as difficult.” Pres. Egawa gratefully said, “The picnic comes together because of each member’s thoughtfulness.”
Details about the Nanka Shizuoka Kenjinkai can be found on their homepage: http://sites.google.com/site/socalshizken/