Paving the Way: Japanese American Visionaries
NJAHS Annual Awards Dinner

Friday, March 15, 2002
The Airport Westin
1 Old Bayshore Highway
Millbrae, CA

NJAHS is holding its 2002 Annual Awards Dinner at The Airport Westin in Millbrae (south of San Francisco), on Friday, March 15, 2002, from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Each year, NJAHS honors individuals whose actions, commitments, and talents have contributed to the special history of Japanese Americans.

The evening will also include a special live performance by Hiroshima at 8:30PM.

This year’s Awards theme is “Paving the Way: Japanese American Visionaries,” honoring four community leaders who have made major groundbreaking contributions in their fields. While the honorees have been internationally successful in careers such as the performing arts, journalism and sports, they bring a unique perspective to their fields by incorporated aspects of their cultural heritage into their work. This year’s honorees are:


Hiroshima, the jazz musical group, whose unique “East meets West” approach to music has earned them a Soul Train Award for Best Jazz Album for their album, “Go,” which also topped Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Chart for three months. For two decades, the band has created music that reflects the experience of growing up in a multi-cultural environment, fusing traditional Japanese elements such as the koto and taiko drums, with Western jazz elements. The group performs around the world, including at the Montreux Jazz Festival, and has sold more than 3 million albums worldwide. Their music has also been featured in films and television shows, including on Ming Tsai’s “East Meets West” show on the TV Food Network. Currently recording on the Windham Hill label, Hiroshima’s latest release is entitled “Between Black and White.”


Philip Kan Gotanda

Philip Kan Gotanda, the internationally renowned playwright who is one of today’s most prolific Asian American writers. He often incorporates the Japanese American experience into his plays, and his dedication to telling stories in his own, particular voice has significantly broadened how “theatre” is defined in America. His plays have been performed throughout the United States in influential venues such as the Asian American Theatre Company, East West Players, the Mark Taper Forum, and the New York Shakespeare Festival. His works are reaching an international audience, too, with performances at London’s Gate Theatre and Royal Court Theatre, and in Tokyo. In the last 10 years, he also has established himself as a respected independent filmmaker, and his debut film, “Life Tastes Good,” has been screened at the Sundance Film Festival and the Dublin Film Festival. Currently, he is adapting one of his plays into a movie for Showtime.

Ken Kashiwahara

Ken Kashiwahara, the Emmy Award winning broadcast journalist who spent 25 years with ABC News as a correspondent covering major national and international news. Before his retirement in 1998, he served as ABC’s San Francisco Bureau Chief. One of the first prominent Asian American correspondents, he reported on major historical events, including the 1975 the fall of Saigon, where he was one of the last American correspondents airlifted out of the city; the Lebanon civil war; and the aftermath of the Tienanmen Square riots. He also spearheaded ABC’s coverage of redress for Japanese Americans interned during World War II. He won Emmys in 1986 and 1988, the “Lifetime Achievement” award from the Asian American Journalists Association in 1993, and a similar award from the Society of Professional Journalists.

Yoshihiro “Yosh” Uchida

Yoshihiro “Yosh” Uchida, known as the “Father of Judo,” whose efforts to promote Judo helped it become a well-known sport in the United States. In 1953, he organized the first National Judo Championships, and, due largely to his efforts, Judo became an Olympic sport in 1964. He also served as the coach of the 1964 Olympic Judo team. Since 1946, he has coached the San Jose State University Judo Team, which won its 38th National Collegiate Judo Championship Tournament in 2001, and holds the record for the greatest number of National Championships in American Collegiate Sports. Awarded the Order of Sacred Treasure by the Emperor of Japan, he also holds the rank of 8th degree Black Belt. Currently, he is a Board Director of the United States Olympic Committee.

Emcees for this year’s Awards Dinner are television and radio personality Sydnie Kohara and KRON-TV reporter Vic Lee. Sydnie Kohara is currently Guest Host on KQED-FM’s “Pacific Time,” a radio program dealing with Asian issues. Previously, she hosted CNBC's CNET, and was anchor of CNBC's Asia Nightly News in Singapore. Her San Francisco roots extend to long periods with the ABC network and KGO-TV, where she also inaugurated the station's business show, Marketplace. She received the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award and the Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Reporting for coverage of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.

Vic Lee joined KRON-TV in 1972. His work has earned him local and national recognition, including numerous Emmys and awards, and the prestigious George Polk Award of Journalism for Best Local TV Reporting. For his documentary, “Airlift Africa and the Faces of Hunger,” he received the CINE Gold Eagle Award, New York Film Festival Gold Award, Best Documentary, and Best Mini-Series Award. In 1999, he was received a National Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) Award at the Unity Conference and was also honored by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences into their Silver Circle.

Dinner tickets are $125 per person, and attendees have the opportunity to bid at a Silent Auction, which begins at 6:00 pm. Sponsorship opportunities are also available, with levels ranging from $1,500 to $25,000. For tickets or further information about the Awards Dinner, please contact NJAHS at (415) 921-5007. All proceeds will benefit the National Japanese American Historical Society.

Directions from SF/Marin:
Take 101 South towards SAN JOSE. Pass the SF Airport and take the MILLBRAE AVE EAST exit. Stay on the RIGHT HAND SIDE onthe ramp. The Airport WESTIN is on the RIGHT, just beyond the Clarion Hotel.

Directions from San Jose:

Take 101 North towards SAN FRANCISCO. BEFORE you reach SF Airport, exit at MILLBRAE (east). Stay on your RIGHT HAND SIDE on the ramp. The Airport WESTIN is on the right, just beyond the Clarion Hotel.

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