AutumnFest Committee (from left): Timothy R. Manaka, Karen Shintaku, Paul Shishima, Suzy Sasaki and Gary Kawaguchi. (Toyo Miyatake Studio)

The Japanese American Cultural & Community Center will hold its 41st Anniversary Celebration & Awards Dinner on Thursday, June 23, in Little Tokyo.

Guests are invited to JACCC’s Isamu Noguchi Plaza for an evening centered on the theme “Kansha: An Appreciation of the Past, Present, and Future.”

Kansha, meaning “thanks,” “appreciation” or “gratitude,” will be offered throughout the program as JACCC highlights the vision, commitment, and perseverance of its honorees.

Kazuo Koshi and Kathryn Doi Todd will receive the Chairman’s Award, which recognizes and honors individuals and organizations that serve as exemplary role models through their philanthropic, social, and cultural activities benefiting the community at large.

Receiving the President’s Award will be the AutumnFest Committee for their long-standing and continued support of JACCC.

The emcees will be David Ono of ABC 7 Eyewitness News and actor/activist Tamlyn Tomita. Entertainment will be provided by the Yu-Ki Shamisen Jazz Project.

Guests will be treated to a special evening of alfresco dining, musical tributes, and a live auction. The community is invited to return to JACCC to celebrate decades of rich cultural tradition of promoting and presenting Japanese and Japanese American arts and culture.

“As we slowly emerge from the pandemic, this year’s Anniversary Celebration & Awards Dinner will be an exciting and unforgettable evening under the stars,” said Dinner Chair David Yamahata. “We look forward to seeing everyone on June 23.”

Additional information and updates are available at http://JACCC.org/events/41st-anniversary-celebration-awards-dinner/.

Founded in 1971, the JACCC weaves Japanese and Japanese American arts and culture into the fabric of its communities. JACCC remains firmly rooted in Little Tokyo, providing a vital place to build connections between people and cultures, locally and internationally. Through inclusive programs and authentic experiences, it continues its traditions and nurtures the next generation of innovative artists, culture-bearers, and thinkers.

JACCC is located at 244 S. San Pedro St. in Little Tokyo and can be contacted at (213) 628-2725 or info@jaccc.org. Follow on social media @jaccc_la.

Honorees

Kazuo “Kaz” Koshi/MUFG Union Bank, 2022 Chairman’s Award: Kazuo “Kaz” Koshi is chairman of the boards, MUFG Americas Holding Corporation and MUFG Union Bank, N.A., positions he assumed in April 2020. He also serves as managing executive officer of MUFG Bank, Ltd. and is based in New York.

Koshi has more than 30 years of experience with MUFG, including the legacy organization, and in recent years has been continuously engaged in the formation and execution of Americas strategy. He has accrued 20 years of work experience in the U.S. since 1995, assigned to managerial positions on the West and East Coasts, on both the business and support sides.

MUFG Union Bank has a rich and long history as the bank played an active role of the early economic growth and success of California. In its commitment to sustaining this legacy and acting as a catalyst for change, the bank continues to make philanthropic investments with a focus towards access to economic opportunity and bolstering the long-term prosperity of the many communities it serves.

In the 1950s the bank’s predecessor, Bank of Tokyo, responded to the desires from the Japanese American community leaders to open a locally based Japanese Bank, and the Bank of Tokyo of California was born. However, finding American investors was a challenge during the post-war era. It was the Japanese American community that came together to make initial deposits and investments to allow for regulatory approvals to officially open for business.

The bank’s core operations centered around the Japanese American community and subsequently, several branches throughout California were established to support the growing financial needs of the community. For almost 70 years, the bank and the community have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship of success and prosperity.

For over 40 years, the bank and its employees have been strong supporters of the JACCC, and are proud to have been a contributor, alongside other Japanese corporations, to the capital campaign that brought to life what is known today as the JACCC campus.

Kathryn Doi Todd, 2022 Chairman’s Award: Kathryn Doi Todd is a retired associate justice of the California Court of Appeal, Division Two. She was born in Los Angeles in 1942, and interned at Heart Mountain and Tule Lake. After graduating from Stanford University and earning her JD from Loyola Law School in 1970, she was an attorney in Little Tokyo and a founding member of the Japanese American Bar Association.

In 1978, Gov. Jerry Brown appointed her to the Los Angeles County Municipal Court, the first female Asian American judge in the U.S. She was then one of eight judges who incorporated the National Association of Women Judges in 1979. Brown elevated her to the L.A. County Superior Court in 1981, and in 2000 Gov. Gray Davis appointed her to the California Court of Appeal, Division 2. Doi Todd retired in 2013, after 35 years on the bench, and received the Margaret Brent Award from the American Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession in 2014.

As a lover of Japanese arts and culture, she served on the Board of Directors for 27 years — including as chair — of the JACCC from 1983 to 2010.

AutumnFest Committee, 2022 President’s Award: In 1987, JACCC launched a new fall event called AutumnFest. The fundraiser evolved into a casual outdoor bento dinner with a fun and elaborate auction of donated items. AutumnFest grew quickly, thanks largely to its five committee co-chairs: volunteers Susan Sasaki, Tim Manaka, Jr., and Karen Shintaku; and JACCC board members Gary Kawaguchi and Paul Shishima.

Organized to support JACCC’s community programs, AutumnFest at its peak assembled over 400 items, including cars and vacations for its live auction. Also developed to engage young professionals from the greater community, AutumnFest with its unique bento dinners drew as many as 600 people and became an introduction to JACCC’s future supporters.

After over two decades with leadership and staff turnover, AutumnFest finally ran its course. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many nonprofit organizations struggled economically, Manaka and his wife Akiko reached out to Sasaki, Shintaku, Kawaguchi and Shishima and others to help JACCC. With only a short planning period, the new AutumnFest Committee created the first virtual event in November of 2020, which netted $150,000.

The 41st Anniversary Celebration & Awards Dinner will recognize the five former co-chairs along with the greater AutumnFest Committee for all that they have done and continue to do for JACCC.

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