Dancers at the Kansha Obon in Little Tokyo. (MARIO GERSHOM REYES/Rafu Shimpo)

On Saturday, Oct. 8, Save Our Seniors Network will hold “Kansha (Gratitude) Obon 3,” which will commemorate 139 seniors who died of COVID-19 in two Pacifica Co.-owned facilities, Kei-Ai L.A. and Kei-Ai South Bay.

The event will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. in the plaza of the Japanese American National Museum, 100 N. Central Ave. (at First Street) in Little Tokyo.

Kei-Ai L.A. was named the deadliest single COVID skilled nursing facility in California by The Los Angeles Times in 2021.

“Our community deserves and demands answers, justice and closure. Peace for those who passed and better care for seniors in the future,” stated David Monkawa, co-chair of SOSN.

An interfaith candlelight memorial service will be led by Rev. Ray Fukumoto, SOSN Interfaith Network director, with Minister Diane Ujiiye, Rinban Nori Ito of Higashi Honganji, Rev. Ken Nagata from Rissho Kosei-kai Buddhist Church, and Geoffery Yamamoto representing Maryknoll.

The historic Keiro nursing homes have roots in the Japanese American community of Boyle Heights and Little Tokyo.

“It is that unique culture of the two locations which is enjoying a cultural renaissance,” stated Mike Sonksen, one of the performing poets, Boyle Heights historian for KCET and board member of Rissho Kosei-kai. “That renaissance will be well represented in the delivery of our messages.”  

Maceo Hernandez, master taiko legend and cultural activist aka the “Demon Drummer from East L.A.,” leads off. In addition to Sonksen, performers will include traci kato-kiriyama, award-winning artist performer, community activist and creator of “Tales of Clamor” and “Navigating Without Instruments”; Ruben Funkahuatl Guevarra, the “Chicano Culture Sculptor,” Boyle Heights resident, musician, singer, activist and poet laureate of Chicano doo-wop music with strong ties to the Japanese American community.

The main speaker is Rep. Judy Chu, (D-Pasadena), chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and member of the House Ways and Means Committee’s Health Subcommittee. She will be joined by Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angelees), who along with Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) co-sponsored AB 279, a bill that would have stopped the evictions at Sakura Intermediate Care Facility.

The Bon Odori dancing will be led by Elaine Fukumoto, with distinguished dance teachers James Harada, Beverly Toyama, Toru Nagao, and Christine Inouye.

Endorsing Organizations: Save Our Seniors Network, Rissho Kosei-kai Buddhist Church, Sakura-ICF Family Council, Little Tokyo Historical Society, Nikkei Progressives, Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress, Greater Los Angeles JACL, Progressive Asian Network for Action, Neighborhood Safety Companions, Jtown Action & Solidarity, Healthcare-for-US L.A, Boyle Heights Community Partners, Japanese American Resource Center of Colorado, Mile High JACL, Nikkeijin Kai of Colorado, National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association, Spirit Run Manzanar, J-Town Community TV.

Guests are encouraged to park in City Parking Lot 7 adjacent to the Museum of Contemporary Art with entrance on the east side of Judge John Aiso Street. Masks are encouraged.

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  1. I host an oldie show for over 50 years I am interested in interviewing Ruben Guevarra.