On July 11 the Japanese American Association of New York participated in the 5th Annual Japanese Heritage Night at New York Mets to celebrate New York’s vibrant Japanese American community.
Outside Citi Field taiko drumming troupes New York Taiko Aiko Kai and Soh Daiko entertained fans as they exited the 7 train and filed into the stadium to watch the New York Mets host the Miami Marlins. Representatives from OrigamiUSA shared their knowledge of paperfolding with fans, creating origami cranes, flowers, and frogs.
Inside the stadium a pregame ceremony was held to present the Mets Spirit Awards to Shuji Kato and the New York Japanese American Lions Club for their diligent efforts to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Touched by the generosity and compassion of New Yorkers after the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster ravaged Northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011, Kato wanted to give back when Hurricane Sandy hit New York. The longtime member of the New York Japanese American Lions Club who serves on the board of JAANY led a group of volunteers in Staten Island every weekend for four months to help clean up the damage.
The mission of the New York Japanese American Lions Club is to serve communities and meet humanitarian needs, so there was no question its members would answer the call when Hurricane Sandy destroyed homes and businesses by donating funds to New York Cares and participating in cleanup efforts.
Ambassador Sumio Kusaka and his wife, Ikuko, and Greg Kimura of the Japanese American National Museum in LA were on hand to congratulate the award recipients.
The Men’s Glee Club of New York, conducted by Ryuji Yamauchi, had the honor of singing the National Anthem.
JAANY set up two community tables near the Shea Bridge inside Citi Field with information about the Japanese American community in New York. There were games and activities for the children, such as kendama and origami, and they learned how to write their names in katakana. Fans had their pictures taken while wearing kimono and other Japanese cultural outfits.
In addition to introducing New Yorkers to the beauty of Japanese culture and the importance of the organizations within the Japanese community, Japanese Heritage Night served as a fundraiser. A portion of the proceeds from tickets purchased in specially designated seating areas went to JAANY’s Committee on Aging Issues. One of JAANY’s most important initiatives, the Committee on Aging Issues is a community network that shares and exchanges information on health and aging issues and organizes and hosts the annual Sakura Health Week in the spring and Senior Week in the fall, to which more than 1,800 people attend free lectures and workshops.
Although Mets starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka didn’t play (he pitched the next day and had 10 strikeouts in a no-decision), the home team put a punctuation mark on a great night of Japanese heritage by defeating the Marlins 7-1.
For more pictures from Japanese Heritage Night, please visit JapanCulture•NYC’s Flickr page.