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70 Years of Hollywood JCI

More than 150 gathered in the social hall on Oct. 22 to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Hollywood Japanese Cultural Institute. The luncheon was an opportunity for family and friends to reminisce.

On Oct. 22, nearly 150 friends and supporters of the Hollywood Japanese Cultural Institute gathered to celebrate HJCI’s 70th anniversary.

HJCI President Brian Yamasaki addresses the gathering.

The luncheon event was held in the original Social Hall constructed in 1936 by the community’s Issei pioneers for a pre-existing Japanese language school that needed a more permanent home. The Hollywood Japanese Community Center (HJCC) was established in 1947 to oversee the gakuen and subsequent use of the property by Hollywood Judo Dojo, Hollywood Buddhist Church, and many other social-cultural groups that promoted the Japanese culture and Japanese American community. The HJCC was subsequently organized as HJCI.

This long-overdue celebration provided an opportunity to reflect on HJCI’s contribution to the pre-war and post-war Japanese/Japanese American community, a legacy that continues today with participation from a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds, reflective of the changing demographics of the community.

Field Deputy George Hakopiants of Los Angeles City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell’s 13th District presented HJCI President Brian Yamasaki with commendation certificates from O’Farrell’s and Mayor Eric Garcetti’s offices.

A delicious bento lunch was provided by Chef Akira and entertainment was provided by the Fuefuki Girls, who are members of the L.A. Daiku Chorale group that meets at the HJCI. Beautiful koto music was provided by Saeko Kujiraoka (Daiku member) and her student Susan Oiwake (HBC member).

Fuefuki Girls (from left) Yuko Uesugi, Atsuko Donely, Hiromi Ando and Keiko Murai perform a selection of songs on the recorder.

The occasion was also a reunion of Nisei and Sansei who grew up in the neighborhood and were former students/participants of the Gakuen, Troop 90 Boy Scouts, Hollywood Dodgers sports team (former affiliate group), Hollywood Judo Dojo, and other affiliations to the HJCI.

A 70th-year fundraising campaign that began a year ago also enabled several overdue improvements to the facilities. The HJCI thanked its dedicated members and friends for their support.

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