SAN FRANCISCO — Seven individuals will be honored at the 27th annual Senior Appreciation Brunch on Easter Sunday, April 20, at the Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco Japantown as part of the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival.

The honorees, who were nominated by senior centers throughout Northern California, will receive certificates of commendation from elected officials and the Cherry Blossom Festival and be recognized on stage for their volunteer efforts and commitment to the Japanese American community.

Karen Korematsu and Tanako Hagiwara
Karen Korematsu and Tanako Hagiwara

Serving as emcee will be Karen Korematsu, executive director and co-founder of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights Education.

The guest speaker will be Tanako Hagiwara, a senior who has competed in more than 140 swim meets with the U.S. Masters Swimming organization and is still swimming today.

Entertainment will be provided by Azama Honryu Seifu Ichisen-kai USA Kinuko Mototake Okinawan Dance Academy.

Attendance is by invitation only. For information on nominating honorees for next year’s event, contact Anna Sawamura at (415) 931-2294.

Following are profiles of this year’s honorees.

• Yukio Yamawaki is nominated by Sakura Kai Senior Center, where he has been the instructor of Japanese exercise for more than 20 years. In addition to his duties, he is active in the Buena Vista United Methodist Church, where he has attended since the age of six, as well as the Buena Vista Senior Center in Alameda. He is a recipient of the Boy Scouts’ prestigious Kokusai Japan/American Friendship Award and has been involved with the Boy Scouts of America for more than 50 years, including 15 years as a scout master. A master bonsai grower, he has set up many bonsai growing demonstrations for the Japanese American Senior Center of the East Bay, now known as J-Sei. Born in Oakland, he went to school in both the United States and Japan but spent the war years in Japan. During his professional life, he worked at an import/export company. He and his wife, Kathryn, live in Alameda and have five children.

• Jean Nomura is the nominee from Eden Japanese Senior Center, where she has been a faithful volunteer for more than 30 years. Born in Alameda, she grew up in Oakland with six brothers. Her family was interned at Gila River, Arizona, where she went to high school and worked in the mess halls. She and her late husband, George, ran the Nomura Nursery in San Leandro, specializing in growing carnations. Today, at Eden, her primary role is to help prepare and serve food. She is always the first to slip into the kitchen and the last to leave. In addition to her volunteer work at Eden, she is active with the Eden JACL. She and George decorated the stage for the JACL’s Christmas shows for more than 40 years and she also chaired the pastry booth at the annual Eden Bazaar. She continues to help with Eden’s bazaar and chicken fundraisers.

• Shigeru (Shig) Tokiwa has been named as Yu-Ai Kai’s honoree. Born in San Jose, he grew up in Salinas, but now lives in Campbell with his wife, Mary. He and his family were interned at Poston, Arizona, Camp 2. A retired audio technician, he is known around Japantown for his expertise with electronics. He was instrumental in upgrading the sound and audio-visual equipment at Yu-Ai Kai. Last year, he and another volunteer installed permanent speakers that are used for the monthly movie screenings and on bingo nights.  For the past 20 years, he has served as the audio technician for the Crab Feed, Keiro Kai and Bonen Kai events held at the San Jose Buddhist Church gym. He has also been doing the A/V at the San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin since 1956 and even installed wiring and cameras so people attending funerals there could hear and see the services in the temple better.

• Eiko Shintake is the nominee from Kimochi Senior Center, where she has been volunteering in the kitchen for more than ten years. Born in Tottori, Japan, she is a former seamstress by trade. She and her husband, Sadao, now live in San Francisco. Despite an hour-long commute by bus that includes transferring twice, she faithfully goes to Kimochi before 8 a.m. two days a week and also comes in whenever they are short-staffed to participate in the daily task of serving more than 400 meals. In addition to prepping the vegetables for the next day’s needs, she is skilled with shamoji (scooping rice) and packing home-delivered meals. She says that at 83 years of age, she is grateful that she can do something good and meaningful for other people, and that she really enjoys her volunteer work at Kimochi.

• Nancy Yoshioka is nominated by Enman No Tomo Senior Center of Sonoma County. She was born in Sebastopol and now lives in Petaluma. She married Lloyd Yoshioka, who is deceased. Nancy graduated from Burbank Business College in Santa Rosa and worked as an administrative secretary for the dean of business services at Santa Rosa Junior College from 1972 to 1995. She was interned in Amache, Colorado. She is a lifetime member of Enmanji Temple, a ten-year Sunday School teacher, and former co-editor and layout editor of The Enmanji Sangha, the temple’s newsletter. In addition, she is a long-time board member and officer of the Enmanji Buddhist Women’s Association, where she has worked on the barbecue events for more than 59 years, and has been active in the Sonoma County JACL, where she received the service award in 2011.

• Joyce Yuri Oyama is Yu-Ai Kai’s second nominee. At Yu-Ai Kai, she participates on several event committees and the Senior Art Show Committee. Born and raised in San Jose, she was interned at Heart Mountain, Wyoming. She graduated from San Jose State University with a bachelor of arts degree in education and taught at James Lick High School for 40 years. Joyce is a familiar face in Japantown, having served as s dedicated volunteer for more than 30 years for organizations including San Jose JACL, Japanese American Museum of San Jose, and West Valley Senior JACL in addition to her work at Yu-Ai Kai. She has also been honored by the Junior League of San Jose and the San Jose JACL.

• Amy Hanamoto is being recognized this year by Kokoro Assisted Living. Born in Newark (Alameda County), she now lives in San Francisco. She was interned at Topaz, Utah and during her professional career she worked for the Social Security Administration in San Francisco and the Santa Clara Welfare Department. She has been volunteering at Kokoro since the day after she retired in 2006. Her primary role is to lead the storytelling at Kokoro. She is well-known at Kokoro for welcoming residents, family and guests at the door with a big smile. In addition to her work at Kokoro, she volunteers at the Chinese Historical Society, the Filipino Center, Kimochi, The Nichi Bei Weekly and the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California.

The Cherry Blossom Festival concludes on April 19 and 20. The Grand Parade is scheduled for Sunday, starting at 1 p.m. at City Hall and ending in Japantown. For more information, visit

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