Making onigiri during an online workshop. The March 27 event grew out of conversations between the Consulate General of Japan and pastors in predominantly Black churches in the United Methodist Church West District.

On March 27, the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles, together with Japan Foundation Los Angeles and the United Methodist Church (UMC), California-Pacific Conference, co-sponsored an online onigiri workshop hosted by the nonprofit organization Table for Two International through their “Onigiri Action” project.

This was the inaugural event of the Japan and Black L.A. Initiative, which grew out of conversations between the Consulate General of Japan and pastors of predominantly Black churches of the UMC West District in the Greater Los Angeles area.

Through Onigiri Action, which uses Japan’s soul food onigiri as its symbol, Table for Two International donates five meals to children in need throughout the world for every photo related to onigiri posted on social media with the hashtag #OnigiriAction. Corporate donors to Table for Two provide the funds for these meals donated to needy children.

Close to 30 participants spanning multiple generations of the Black congregations involved participated in the virtual workshop. After a presentation on Table for Two, onigiri, food education, and the social good aspect of the Onigiri Action project, participants used the kits they had received from Table for Two to make onigiri, guided by their online instructor.

One participant remarked: “This brings back so many memories of my elementary school classmate/Japanese neighbor living beside our African American family. My dad rigged a pulley basket between our bedrooms and we would send treats and notes back and forth.”

The Japan and Black L.A. Initiative aims to work with children, youth, and adults in the Los Angeles community – a city that represents the diversity of the U.S. – to share aspects of Japanese and African American culture that will broaden mutual understanding as global citizens.

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