It has been 20 years since an historic gathering took place at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center in Little Tokyo in April 1998 when 400 participants gathered for the first “Ties That Bind (TTB)” conference.

According to Bill Watanabe, former executive director of the Little Tokyo Service Center, “Back in 1998, there was a lot of attention given to that fact we were moving into a new century, even a new millennium, and it became a time for our JA community to take stock in discerning what is the future of Little Tokyo and our Nikkei community. I was part of the group that planned that first TTB gathering – and it provided that moment in time when a broad cross-section of the community came together to declare that our history as an ethnic community is strong and will continue to move forward into the next century.

“Twenty years later, we are still here and now it is time to look forward another 20 years to try to see where our community is headed – and that is why we are announcing another TTB gathering to take place on Oct. 20, 2018 once again at the JACCC.”

Another member of the TTB planning committee is Bryan Takeda, who is an active member of the Pasadena Japanese Cultural Institute and a founder of the Nikkei Federation. He explained that TTB has held a series of convenings over the past 20 years but this one will be special as it will provide what he calls “20/20 vision” – to look back 20 years and also to look ahead the next 20 years for our Nikkei communities.

Assisting in taking a rear view and forward view of the community will be a distinguished roster of speakers, including:

• Eric Harris, a nonprofit analytical consultant (and gateball devotee)

• Karen Umemoto, Ph.D., director of UCLA Asian American Studies Center

• Valerie Matsumoto, Ph.D., professor of George and Sakaye Aratani Endowed Chair on the Japanese American Incarceration, Redress, and Community

• Tritia Toyota, Ph.D., professor of anthropology and Asian American studies at UCLA

In order to register for this important time of reflection and planning for the future, go to There is a $15 registration fee to help cover the cost of the bento lunch.

Other members of the TTB planning committee include Dave Nagano with the Little Tokyo Historical Society; Dr. Charles Igawa, former director of the Long Beach Japanese Cultural Center and the California Association of Japanese Language Schools; Cyril Nishimoto, executive director of faith-based organization Iwa; and Dr. Ford Kuramoto, former national director of the National Asian Pacific American Families Against Substance Abuse. His family operated Jack’s Auto Service in Little Tokyo.

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