E. Choo parries a strike by Michael Kim during the Nikkei Games banquet on July 26 in Westminster. Both train with Costa Mesa Kendo Dojo.

By GWEN MURANAKA, Rafu Senior Editor

With the traditional sake barrel-breaking ceremony, Nikkei Games announced that they are back after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic during a banquet on July 26 in Westminster.

Once again, the summer will be filled with athletes in action in an array of sports, all under the umbrella of Nikkei Games.

Art Ishii and Jesse James presided over a welcome banquet for sponsors and sports committee chairs. Also in attendance was Nikkei Week Queen Jaime Hasama and her court, and the 2022 Nisei Week candidates.

“I’m enjoying seeing younger people with even younger generations,” said Ishii. “Our intention was for Nikkei Games to be a generational event.”

Sakura Kokumai and Fumio Demura sensei joined a gathering of karate teachers, including Art Ishii, Mike Yamasaki and Jeff Yamada. Kokumai, who competed in the Tokyo Olympics, also performed a karate kata

Track and field will be held on Saturday at Foothill High School in Santa Ana with a number of events, including the signature Richard Fukuhara Daikon Relays, for participants seven and older. Howard Kunihiro said that there will be hot dogs, prepared by Clay Sakurao and the OCO crew, and 80 people had already signed up.

“We’re looking forward to an exciting August,” Kunihiro said.

Pickleball, a fishing derby and a youth/adult golf tournament have already taken place. Other events include golf, bowling, co-ed softball and the Budo Tournament at Cypress College, where judo, kendo and karate competitons will be held.

“It is a great event to see all three martial arts forms participate,” said Tim Yuge, longtime budo chair.

The 2021 Nisei Week Court look on as Nikkei Games sponsors perform the sake barrel-breaking ceremony (kagami-wari).

Allyson Dong of Costa Mesa Kendo Dojo led some of her students and students from Venice kendo dojo in a kendo kata demonstration.

Olympian Sakura Kokumai also performed a karate kata. She will be leading a seminar on Aug. 20 at the Terasaki Budokan.

Perhaps the signature event — basketball — will once again be held at the Pyramind at Cal State Long Beach on Aug. 13-14.

Jesse James introduces members of the 2022 Nisei Week Court.

Wallace Chan, basketball chair, said that 476 teams and 1,900 players are expected to fill the Pyramid. He noted, like bringing back so many things, that it hasn’t been easy to restart the games.

“It was tough because we were off for two years, but it was important for the Japanese American community to get Nikkei Games going again. Jesse James and Teddy Matsumoto (chair of indoor sports) pushed hard to get Nikkei Games basketball going again.”

“Thank you to our sponsors and volunteers. We have 500 volunteers. They are the ones who make it happen,” Chan said.

For more information and schedule of events, visit http://nikkeigames.org.

Photos by GWEN MURANAKA/Rafu Shimpo

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