Portland JACL sponsors/supports numerous community activities promoting fellowship and celebrating Japanese American culture including:
Mochitsuki Festival (January)
Eating smooth, round rice cakes is the traditional Japanese way to welcome the New Year, and the Mochitsuki Festival has become the quintessential way the Portland area Japanese American community invites the public to join in this lively celebration. This event is in its 14th year. It’s a cultural preservation effort that combines a professional stage show with community booths in a festival environment and adds a community stage where local groups can demonstrate their singing, martial arts, and, oh, yes, the art of pounding rice into those New Year’s rice cakes.
Day of Remembrance (February)
Every year Portland JACL takes time out to remember the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II and to bring light to contemporary issues affecting human civil liberties. In 2010, we collaborated with the Hispanic community to highlight The Ralph Lazo story by showing the film Stand Up for Justice which depicts the true story of an Hispanic young man who decides to join his Nikkei friends at the assembly center and to voluntarily stay with them as they all were sent to concentration camp. We partnered with Portland State University, Oregon State Bar Affirmative Action Program, and the Hispanic Community to discuss shared experiences and civil rights struggles within the Japanese American and Hispanic communities.
Graduation Banquet (May)
Every year in May, the Portland Chapter co-sponsors a community-wide banquet to honor graduating high school seniors from the greater Portland area. The evening’s program includes a keynote address by a distinguished Japanese American, usually with local “roots,” who never fails to inspire the young graduates to strive and achieve the greatness that is within them. Scholarships amounting to over $35,000 these past two years were awarded to deserving seniors who are headed for distinguished institutions of higher learning in various professional and technical vocations. Invitations are sent to graduating high school seniors in all high schools within the greater Portland area.
Nikkei Picnic (August)
In mid-August the Nikkei community comes together for an afternoon of food and drink, taiko drumming performance, bingo, raffles, and amusement rides for the kids. The annual event is held at Oaks Park in the south end of the picnic area, under the “Nikkei Community Picnic” banner. This is truly a special time to see old friends or make new friends; share a special dish or enjoy someone’s signature dish; play bingo and win a prize; buy a raffle ticket to further the mission of Portland JACL; cheer on the young drummers and try out Taiko yourself; or just connect with the larger Nikkei community.