Aratani CARE Award Boosts JA Documentary

Zentoku Foundation Board (from left) Helen Ota, Mark Nakakihara, Michelle Hanabusa and Curtis Nishihara. (Photo by Joey Ikemoto Photography)

From early immigration at the dawn of the Meiji era to the present-day efforts to protect the historic Japantowns, the saga of the Nikkei community will be chronicled in a documentary film funded in part by the George and Sakaye Aratani Community Advancement Research Endowment (CARE) program and UCLA Asian American Studies.

The film, entitled “Curating the Japanese American Experience,” will be produced by the Zentoku Foundation and coincides with the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the Wakamatsu tea and silk colonists to the mainland United States and the first immigrants to Hawaii in 1868.

Zentoku is a relatively new nonprofit founded in 2017 to: (1) collect, preserve and share the little-known true stories within the Japanese American community; (2) encourage today’s journalism professionals and prepare the next generation of storytellers, authors, and journalists; and (3) celebrate and hand down Japanese and Japanese American culture, values, and achievements.

The Aratani CARE award was established to promote projects that benefit and advance Japanese American communities.

“The documentary is one of several projects we are undertaking in the months to come,” noted Zentoku President Mark Nakakihara. “Our goal is to create something that guides us through our community’s cultural, political, and social history, capturing key moments large and small, from festivals to sports to history-making moments.”

Serving alongside Nakaihara are board directors Michelle Hanabusa, Curtis Nishihara and Helen Ota.