This week I get to be a bit of a spokesman and representative of my community. I'm on the lineup of presenters for Living Our Culture: Bringing Legacy to Life, this year's fundraiser for the Japanese American Service Committee (JASC) of Chicago.
The JASC is a pretty important organization for the Japanese American community here in the Windy City. After World War II, it was one of the key organizations providing social services and a safe place for gathering and recreational activities for former internees coming out of the wartime era relocation camps. Very critical when you take into account the fact that wartime hostility and racism against Japanese Americans was still riding at a pretty high level back then, and continued sometime into the 1950s. The JASC provided services for things such as child care, elder care and employment and housing advice, and along with the Midwest Buddhist Temple, Buddhist Temple of Chicago and Ravenswood Fellowship United Methodist Church sponsored dances for teenagers, little league baseball teams, boy scout troops and the like. I remember hearing Judge Lance Ito speak at a banquet, recalling the assistance the JASC provided his relatives in Chicago after the war.
This year, the fundraiser organizers decided on doing something different. So, instead of a simple sit-down dinner they are having people in the community who represent the idea of the "living culture" of Japanese Americans present what they do and how they do it. I have been asked along with Doug Tono of Tohkon Judo Academy to represent Kokoro to karada no tsunagari (connection of body and mind) in my capacity as a member of Chicago Aikido Club.
It should be a fun event. Though, the JASC have asked me and Tono Sensei to show up dressed in our uniforms, which is going to get a bit hot after a while as we stand around answering questions. And unfortunately, despite this being a bit of a wine and cheese type event, tradition dictates that I do not consume alcohol while in uniform. So, I guess others will have to enjoy the sake without me.