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Buddhist Festival embrace 1940’s Japantown

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In honor of 66,000 lives lost at Hiroshima. In honor of 39,000 lives lost at Nagasaki . In honor of 110,000 Japanese Americans eradicated to internment camps in 1942. In honor of 20,739 lives lost in this year’s tsunami earthquake.

A Sacramento Buddhist Church embrace a 1940’s Japantown tradition.  

It’s going to be big. 

Over 40,000 people will come for the 65th Annual Japanese Food & Cultural Bazaar on August 13-14, 2011.

The festival unites past and present residents of Sacramento’s Japantown neighborhood to the 112 – year old church located on the corner of 2401 Riverside Boulevard and X Street.


Map of Sacramento’s 1940’s Japantown



Many families have moved away from the neighborhood but return yearly to support the fundraiser for the Japanese community.

The festival is one of the few traces left of the original Nihonmachi. Sakura GiftsOsaka Ya, June’s Café are the few remaining businesses in Southside’s dwindling Japantown.

The Japanese American Civil Liberties wall asserts, “1958 – forced removal due to redevelopment, led to the final demise of Sacramento’s Japantown.” 

What happened to Japantown?

After Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the effects of Executive Order No. 9066 still resonate for those who lived through the ordeal.

Executive Order No.9066 – From Japanese American Civil Liberties Monument 3rd & P Street

U.S. Representative Robert Matsui, husband of current U.S. Representative for California‘s 5th congressional district Doris Matsui was a prominent advocate for redress and reparations for Japanese Americans following the incarceration and exclusion of Japanese Americans during World War II.  As a child, Matsui’s family was forced to eradicate from their Sacramento home and was held in an internment camp at Tule Lake for a year.

Nissei Memorial Wall P & 3rd Street

“Today, we celebrate the freedom to keep tradition alive even after many trials," shares Sherman Iida, festival organizer.

The food for the event requires10,000 pounds of chicken, 1500 pounds of beef for teriyake, 400 pounds of shrimp for tempura and sushi dishes, 500 pounds of sugar and salt for seasonings, and six tons of ice for cool drinks. It take over 700 volunteers to prepare the place for the occassion.

Bringing together a village of volunteers for Sacramento’s
Japanese Food & Cultural Bazaar.

The free festival is open to the public.  Neighbors work side by side in harmony to present the vibrancy of The Koyasan Spirit of Children Taiko Group, the grace of the Japanese Folk Song & Dance Society(odori), the teachings of Buddhist Philosophy, the old school funk, soul, R&B, and classic rock sound of The East Wind Band, the peace of gardening with the Sacramento Bonsai Club, the beauty of Ikebana (floral art) by Ikebana School, and the joy of Japanese calligraphy among the many activities. Here is the full schedule.

The festival is the church’s annual fundraiser that supports many programs including sports, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, youth groups, adult and senior support, and the Japanese language school.

We are proud to be Japanese American. A Picture from the Japanese American Civil Liberties Monument on 3rd & P Street

In honor of those who have lived before us.  Don’t miss two fantastic days of remembrance.


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About the author

Amabelle Ocampo

  • Tony Sheppard

    Coincidentally, on Wednesday, August 17th at 8pm, the Sacramento Film & Music Festival will open with a screening of “Jimmy Murakami – Non Alien.” Jimmy spent four years, with his family, in Tule Lake internment camp. He later went to art school and became an animator and filmmaker, directing amongst other titles, “When the Wind Blows.” He has lived for over 40 years in Ireland, having never felt at home in the US after internment, and the film follows him as he travels back to the US and joins one of the Tule Lake pilgrimages. For more information on the film and the trailer, visit: sacfilm.com/nonalien.html

  • Jimmy Mirikitani is the correct name.

    • Tony Sheppard

      Different guy, similar names – both were at Tule Lake. To add to the confusion, Jimmy Murakami’s own brother goes by the name of James Murakami – they were sent to different classrooms at the camp and both told to choose an English name, and one chose Jimmy and one chose James. They also both work in the film industry: Where Jimmy is an animator and film director, James has been an art director (including “Apocalypse Now”) and is now a production designer working with Clint Eastwood. Jimmy Mirikitani is an artist and the focus of “The Cats of Mirikitani.”

  • Aaron Davis

    Great stuff, Amabelle!

    • Amabelle Ocampo

      Hiroshima & Nagasaki happened on August 6 and 9 of 1945. It was worth mentioning because of the timeliness to the article. Japanese were allowed to return home from internment camps in 1946 which is when the festival began, perhaps as an attempt for the people to take what they can of their lives back. The church holds the people now, the words on the wall on P & 3rd hold their truth. It should be recognized nationally. I too, plead guilty of walking by this memorial many times, ignorant of its content til now. We cannot ignore history or we are doomed to repeat the mistake. As in the memorial, “The great victory of redress was not the apology and the reparation; it was the gifts we gave to this country – the gift of education, of strengthening the Constitution, of strenghtening our civil rights.” – Dale Minami Civil Rights attorney

  • bye bye Sacpress

    Is the Sacramento Buddhist Church’s annual Bazaar really “In honor of 66,000 lives lost at Hiroshima. In honor of 39,000 lives lost at Nagasaki”.

    Did someone at the Sacramento Buddhist Church really make that linkage?

    • Indeed. More than few conventional explosive and incendiary bombing raids, involving 800 B-29s rather than just one, had more civilian deaths than Hiroshima or Nagasaki. But these raids were still fewer casualties than the Rape of Nanjing or the massacres at Shanghai. Sorry, I can’t excuse the Nazis of Asia any more than I can excuse the Nazis of Europe.

    • Ben Ilfeld

      Not excusing anything, but it would make sense that those lives meant something for those of Japanese descent.

    • Mark

      Not even sure of what you are trying to say cogmeyer? I find it tedious that every thing has to be political. The last time I checked I was still human. I don’t know about you… but I’ve noticed that most of people who are keen on “fighting” wars – especially ones waged long ago -have never actually fought in a war themselves. Very few people are alive from WWII and a lot has happened since then. Maybe it’s time to let it go.

    • bye bye Sacpress

      It was a simple question, and not a political question at that.

      Just pointing out that the author maybe took some creative license to portray the 65th Sacramento Buddhist Bazaar as being in honor of the deaths at Hiroshima & Nagasaki.

      (Tangential side note -I am writing this from Tokyo right now).

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