Above and right: Younger generations learn about their heritage by participating in the Japanese Cemetery clean-up.
Above and right: Younger generations learn about their heritage by participating in the Japanese Cemetery clean-up.

SAN FRANCISCO — The Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California, in partnership with the Japanese Benevolent Society, will unveil a new bulletin board at their annual Japanese Cemetery Clean-up Day.

Japanese Cemetery Cleanup_Wesley YeeVolunteer registration has also opened and the JCCCNC welcomes youth, family, and community groups to participate in the clean-up on Saturday, May 21, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“Oftentimes we find ourselves too busy in our daily lives to honor our past and remember those who have passed on,” said a JCCCNC spokesperson. “The Japanese Cemetery in Colma is a unique cultural treasure that deserves our attention, our respect, and OUR TIME. The place represents our history, our loved ones, friends and family. For many of us, it is where our grandparents, great-grandparents, parents, family and friends are laid to rest. For all of us, the loved ones that rest there represent our history … The Japanese Cemetery is arguably one of the most important Japanese American cultural sites in North America.”

In celebration of the 110th anniversary of San Francisco’s Japantown this year, the JCCCNC and the Japanese Benevolent Society will unveil a new bulletin board to help tell the story of the Japanese Cemetery.

Peter Chuck has generously donated his time to design and construct the new bulletin board, and also provide the structural engineering services for the project pro-bono. For the past 14 years, Chuck and his family frequently visited the Japanese Cemetery, and they noticed that the contents of the board were fading and the structure needed to be replaced.

This project originally started strictly as a replacement bulletin board, but evolved into something much more. The bulletin board not only will allow the Japanese Benevolent Society to post notices, but will also incorporate a cemetery map, the history of the cemetery, and highlight some of the notable monuments.

Rendering of the Japanese Benevolent Society of California's new bulletin board.
Rendering of the Japanese Benevolent Society of California’s new bulletin board.

Suggested donations of $15 or more are accepted to help cover the cost of the construction and maintenance of the new bulletin board. Visit http://bit.ly/colmadonations (select “Colma Cemetery Clean-up”) or mail a check payable to: JCCCNC, Attn: Colma Clean-up, 1840 Sutter St., San Francisco, CA 94115.

The Japanese Cemetery is located at 1300 Hillside Blvd., Colma, CA 94014.

The JCCCNC will supply garbage bags, tools, cleaning supplies, watering buckets, drinking water, rags, bento and flowers for all participants who RSVP. Participants should bring their own gloves.

For additional information or to register, visit www.jcccnc.org or call (415) 567-5505.

The Japanese Cemetery is located about 20 minutes from San Francisco in a quiet town on the San Francisco Peninsula. The three-acre cemetery is the final resting place for more than 5,000 people, and a tower commemorating three crewmen from the famous ship Kanrin-Maru is there as well.

The Japanese Benevolent Society of California was established in 1890. The pioneers of the Japanese American community built the cemetery in 1901 and received a grant from the Meiji Emperor of Japan in 1906 to provide “for the relief of sick, disabled or destitute persons of the Japanese race” in California and to provide “a suitable burial ground for deceased Japanese.”

The society performed its historic mandate over the years, assisting those in need and acquiring land in Colma for the cemetery. It also served as a unifying force in the Japanese American community by bringing together Buddhist, Shinto and Christian religious organizations, and by participating in local historical, cultural, and memorial events that honor the Japanese heritage in the U.S.

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