George Aratani (1917-2013)
By HOSHINA SEKI
One hundred years ago, George Aratani was born in Los Angeles. Raised with deep Japanese principles and educated both in America and Japan, he thoroughly learned to understand the value of both cultures. His smart entrepreneurship enabled him to form two giant international companies, Mikasa & Co. and Kenwood Corp. He was an intuitive businessman who made it big in postwar America.
The success of his business ventures gave Aratani the money and power to help the Japanese communities and Japanese Americans who suffered because of the mass evacuations during WWII. George lost the family business due to the internment.
“He exemplifies the American frontier spirit as well as the Japanese ideals of diligence and perseverance. The spirit of social coexistence and mutual assistance, which he inherited from his parents, has made him a generous philanthropist,” said former Japanese Foreign Minister Yohei Kono.
Without Mr. Aratani’s contributions, the Japanese American National Museum would not be what it is today; nor would the Japanese American monument in Washington, D.C., and many of the other organizations and projects that counted on his counsel and financial assistance.
The American Buddhist Study Center is pleased to host the George Aratani Centennial Tribute; he was a great Japanese American, Nisei. His Jodo Shinshu upbringing and his promise to his dying mother not to worry because he will be successful and help others were his mantra.
On behalf of all the organizations that he helped, including the American Buddhist Study Center, we are deeply grateful to the past, present, as well as future generations that will benefit from the Aratani Foundation.
On Sunday, Oct. 1, from 1 to 4 p.m. in the JACCC’s Aratani Theatre in Los Angeles, we will celebrate Mr. Aratani’s 100th Birthday Tribute with a spectacular program. Our keynote speakers include George Takei and Rev. William Briones. There will be performances by June Kuramoto from the band Hiroshima, David Benoit, an American jazz pianist and composer, and Scott Takeda from “Allegiance.” Josephine Seki will sing “Danny Boy,” one of George’s favorite songs.
We are giving gratitude to a man who gave so much to the community. However, we do need your support. There are three ways to help us. (1) Become a sponsor, (2) place an ad in the collector’s program booklet, or (3) join us at the Aratani Theatre on Oct. 1.
Sponsorship levels: Platinum ($5,000), Silver ($2,500), Gold ($1,000), Signature ($500) and Sustaining ($250). Each level has its benefits.
Program booklet ad: Full page, $200; half page, $100; quarter page, $50; and Booster, $20.
Tickets are now available at the Aratani Theatre and online at the ABSC website, AmBuddhist.org.
The American Buddhist Study Center is a nonprofit organization founded in 1951 by the late Rev. Hozen Seki as a Japanese Buddhist cultural center. Rev. Seki provided a Buddhist center for people interested in learning more about the Buddhist teachings. Back then, the ABSC was known as the American Buddhist Academy and provided programs and demonstrations on Japanese tea ceremony, ikebana classes, and all other forms of Japanese culture that have their roots in Buddhism.
Today, the ABSC’s mission is to continue to introduce Buddhist principles and Japanese traditions that have impacted our American culture in literature and all art forms.
Hoshina Seki is president of the American Buddhist Study Center and can be reached at email@example.com.