From left: Haruye Ioka, Keiko Kawashima and Lisa Joe.

The Grateful Crane Ensemble held its 13th annual fundraising dinner, “Songs for a Sansei,” on Sept. 16 at Nishi Hongwanji’s Kaikan in Little Tokyo.

Darrell Kunitomi

The event marked the ensemble’s return to the venue after a three-year absence due to the pandemic.

“As we all know, our world has changed dramatically during those three-plus years, but what has remained the same is Grateful Crane’s commitment to telling our stories and paying tribute to our Issei and Nisei elders who paved the way for all of us to follow,” said Grateful Crane Executive Director Soji Kashiwagi.

“Whether it was watching our virtual programs from home during the pandemic or coming out to support our live and in-person shows, we just want to thank you for your support, and for joining us this evening to celebrate ‘Songs for a Sansei,’ a collection of some of your all-time favorite songs as sung by our three Grateful Crane songstresses Haruye Ioka, Keiko Kawashima and Lisa Joe.”

The trio, assisted by emcee Darrell Kunitomi, performed “Downtown,” “Close to You,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “If I Had a Hammer,” “Blue Bayou,” “Crazy,” “The Best of My Love,” “Come See About Me,” “Anticipation,” “My Guy,” “Hello Stranger,” “Ooh Baby Baby,” “September” and “Will You Still Love me Tomorrow?”

In memory of two long-time supporters, “My Way” was sung for Frank Kawana and “Sing” was sung for Cathy Tanaka.

The evening’s sponsors included:

Tsuru Level — Aratani Foundation/Linda Aratani, Sadako Kashiwagi, Yamasa Enterprises/Sachi Kawana

Matsu Level — Frank and Betty Hiji, Upper Crust Enterprises/Gary Kawaguchi, KGS Electronics/George and Lisa Sugimoto, Tomiye Sumner

Take Level — Family of Fred and Michi Dohzen/Vicki Tani and Jeff Dohzen, Kansas Marine/Ernie Doizaki, Fukui Mortuary/Jerry Fukui

For each sponsor, the singers performed a jingle based on a popular song. For example, the Fukui jingle was a variation on “Hotel California.”

Volunteers included the 2023 and 2022 Nisei Week Courts.

In announcing the ensemble’s goodwill tour next month of the Tohoku region — which was struck by an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in 2011 — the singers performed a song from their Japanese-language repertoire, “Sekai ni Hitotsu Dake no Hana.” While in Iwate Prefecture, the group will visit Shohei Ohtani’s hometown, Mizusawa.

Dinner was provided by Chef Akira Hirose, owner of Azay Restaurant, his wife JoAnn and their son Philip. There was also a silent auction.

Volunteers included members of this year’s and last year’s Nisei Week Courts: 2023 Queen Kaitlyn Chu, First Princess Sara Kubo, Miss Tomodachi Nancy Chin, Princess Aiko Dzikowski and Princess Kaili Inouye; 2022 First Princess Audrey Nakaoka, Miss Tomodachi Maile Yanguas, Princess Amanda Hiraishi, Princess Faith Nishimura.

Photos by J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo

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