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Our story


it started with a slice of pizza.....


Japan Alliance was a concept that bloomed from a pizza gathering for a group of Japanese and Japanese American parents organized by Jesse and Ryan.  With his son on a sports team, Jesse saw a social barrier built between the Japanese-speaking and Japanese American parents on his own team.  While the suggestion to hold a get-together was met with some hesitation by the parents, Jesse saw that the children were eager to bond more with their teammates.  Ryan also saw a lack of tricenarian leaders within the Japanese American community and supported the idea of a social gathering that would overcome the Japanese language barrier that often divide our community.  Thus, the first gathering was held at a pizza restaurant and was deemed successful to where many wanted more gatherings planned in the same fashion.

 

These casual gatherings over pizza quickly grew in popularity, with attendance building through word-of-mouth.  Bryan soon made a proposal to form an organization that would coordinate more gatherings and accommodate the growing interest.  The organization would give back to the community, and nurture the next generation of bilingual and bicultural leaders who would truly bring the community together.

 

Thus, in August of 2014, the group held a mixer event to allow Japanese and Japanese Americans, regardless of age or current occupational level, to mix and mingle over Japanese food.  At this event, people bonded through icebreaker games and went home with raffled Japanese food items that were generously donated by various companies that supported the cause.  It was shortly thereafter that Megumi, who had seen the divide within the community during her year with the Nisei Week Foundation, joined the group to help jump the hurdles of cultural differences.

 

Even before Japan Alliance had been officiated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the group’s involvement in the community through action had built its reputation.  From donating and distributing bottled tea to Keiro centers and Kizuna, to helping the Japanese American Optimist organization for its Christmas party, Japan Alliance has always looked to bridge any divides in the community through action and setting an example.  The organization looks to be a truly halfway point that Japanese and Japanese Americans alike feel welcome and hopes to inspire the next generation to move forward in helping to preserve our beautiful culture and language here in Southern California, regardless of upbringing and background.

We are the bridge ・ We are the next generation

We are Japan Alliance

 

*日本語でのご案内は近日中にアップ致しますのでお待ち下さい。*

Board Member Bios


Board Member Bios


Megumi Yuhara


Megumi Yuhara was born in Toyonaka, Osaka and moved to Southern California at the age of two.  She is a “Shin Issei”, or a new 1st Generation Japanese American.  She studied music at the California State University, Long Beach and currently works as an Administrative/Accounting Assistant and PR/Community Relations at a professional staffing agency.  Megumi attended Asahi Gakuen through elementary school and grew up in a traditional Japanese household.

 

Megumi’s introduction to the community was through the contribution and involvement with the Los Angeles Kimono Club and the Nisei Week Foundation.  She actively volunteers with Japanese Restaurant Association of America, Japan America Society, and Japanese American Optimist Club.  During her involvement with Nisei Week, Megumi saw the strict separation between the Japanese and the Japanese Americans, often attributed to the cultural misunderstandings and language barriers.

 

It’s difficult to create a sense of cohesion within the community when there is a language barrier but Japan Alliance looks to overcome that.  While our individual backgrounds may differ, our cultural heritage is the bond that should motivate us to want to help the community thrive. Japan Alliance is a group of people who are passionate about preserving the Japanese traditions while also understanding the American aspect of our community.

 

Megumi’s favorite aspect of the Japanese culture is its appreciation for simplicity—in life, beauty, and functionality.

Megumi Yuhara


Megumi Yuhara was born in Toyonaka, Osaka and moved to Southern California at the age of two.  She is a “Shin Issei”, or a new 1st Generation Japanese American.  She studied music at the California State University, Long Beach and currently works as an Administrative/Accounting Assistant and PR/Community Relations at a professional staffing agency.  Megumi attended Asahi Gakuen through elementary school and grew up in a traditional Japanese household.

 

Megumi’s introduction to the community was through the contribution and involvement with the Los Angeles Kimono Club and the Nisei Week Foundation.  She actively volunteers with Japanese Restaurant Association of America, Japan America Society, and Japanese American Optimist Club.  During her involvement with Nisei Week, Megumi saw the strict separation between the Japanese and the Japanese Americans, often attributed to the cultural misunderstandings and language barriers.

 

It’s difficult to create a sense of cohesion within the community when there is a language barrier but Japan Alliance looks to overcome that.  While our individual backgrounds may differ, our cultural heritage is the bond that should motivate us to want to help the community thrive. Japan Alliance is a group of people who are passionate about preserving the Japanese traditions while also understanding the American aspect of our community.

 

Megumi’s favorite aspect of the Japanese culture is its appreciation for simplicity—in life, beauty, and functionality.

Ryan Yamamoto


Ryan Yamamoto was born in Chicago, IL but grew up in Southern California and is Yonsei, or 4th Generation Japanese American.  He is currently working as a broker in the food industry. Ryan’s involvement in the Japanese American community began in first grade when he started playing in Asian basketball leagues, where he made many long-lasting friendships.  Over time, he and his friends would volunteer for various events, sparking even more interest in both the culture and community.  His volunteerism has grown since then and he is currently a member of the United States Japan Council.

 

After living in New York for seven years and returning to Southern California, Ryan struggled to find information on ways of getting involved with both the Japanese and Japanese American communities. This difficulty to find the middle-ground between the two communities sparked his interest in starting Japan Alliance.  He hopes that with Japan Alliance, there will be an avenue to bridge the gaps and allow the community to come together more easily.

 

I hope that by bringing the Japanese American and Japanese communities together, Japanese can become a stronger force in the community, not only helping each other, but also broadening the reach of Japanese culture to those outside the Japanese community.

 

Ryan’s favorite aspect of the Japanese culture is the honesty and trust that they have for others.

Ryan Yamamoto


Ryan Yamamoto was born in Chicago, IL but grew up in Southern California and is Yonsei, or 4th Generation Japanese American.  He is currently working as a broker in the food industry. Ryan’s involvement in the Japanese American community began in first grade when he started playing in Asian basketball leagues, where he made many long-lasting friendships.  Over time, he and his friends would volunteer for various events, sparking even more interest in both the culture and community.  His volunteerism has grown since then and he is currently a member of the United States Japan Council.

 

After living in New York for seven years and returning to Southern California, Ryan struggled to find information on ways of getting involved with both the Japanese and Japanese American communities. This difficulty to find the middle-ground between the two communities sparked his interest in starting Japan Alliance.  He hopes that with Japan Alliance, there will be an avenue to bridge the gaps and allow the community to come together more easily.

 

I hope that by bringing the Japanese American and Japanese communities together, Japanese can become a stronger force in the community, not only helping each other, but also broadening the reach of Japanese culture to those outside the Japanese community.

 

Ryan’s favorite aspect of the Japanese culture is the honesty and trust that they have for others.

Bryan Shigekuni


Bryan Shigekuni is a Southern California native who is Gosei, or 5th Generation Japanese American.  After having graduated from California State University, Fullerton, he currently works as an insurance broker and for radio communications.  He always had a deep desire to learn more about his Japanese American heritage and understand some of the culture that was lost through the generations.  He took Japanese courses throughout high school and college and lived in Japan for 2 years.

 

Bryan first became involved with the community only recently but has volunteered for Keiro Nursing Home and volunteers for events throughout the community for various organizations. With this involvement, he wishes now, more than ever, to see the community become stronger and more connected.  Through Japan Alliance, he hopes that generations to come will have the same opportunity to enjoy the cultural events, food, and friendships with which he has been blessed with.

 

It is easy to hope that the same opportunities to enjoy Japanese culture today will be available to our children and our children’s children, but it requires a conscious effort to ensure these traditions are carried forward. Japan Alliance was formed as a proactive approach to help achieve this vision. 

 

Bryan’s favorite aspect of the Japanese culture is the delicious food. 

 

Bryan Shigekuni


Bryan Shigekuni is a Southern California native who is Gosei, or 5th Generation Japanese American.  After having graduated from California State University, Fullerton, he currently works as an insurance broker and for radio communications.  He always had a deep desire to learn more about his Japanese American heritage and understand some of the culture that was lost through the generations.  He took Japanese courses throughout high school and college and lived in Japan for 2 years.

 

Bryan first became involved with the community only recently but has volunteered for Keiro Nursing Home and volunteers for events throughout the community for various organizations. With this involvement, he wishes now, more than ever, to see the community become stronger and more connected.  Through Japan Alliance, he hopes that generations to come will have the same opportunity to enjoy the cultural events, food, and friendships with which he has been blessed with.

 

It is easy to hope that the same opportunities to enjoy Japanese culture today will be available to our children and our children’s children, but it requires a conscious effort to ensure these traditions are carried forward. Japan Alliance was formed as a proactive approach to help achieve this vision. 

 

Bryan’s favorite aspect of the Japanese culture is the delicious food. 

 

Jesse Hiraki


Jesse Hiraki is a Kibei Nisei, or 2nd Generation Japanese American, who grew up in Northern California but spent his teen years in Fukuoka Ken, Okawa-Shi, Japan.  He returned to the US and moved to Los Angeles ten years ago.  He currently runs his own consulting business, helping Japanese companies with satellite offices in the US and American companies looking to do business in Japan.  Because his father ran a kendo dojo in Northern California, Jesse always saw the importance of helping both Japanese and Japanese Americans communicate, specifically through children’s sports.  He considers himself bilingual and bicultural, thanks to his dual upbringing in California and Japan.

 

Jesse has always had a passion for sports and his two children share that enthusiasm.  As an active volunteer for AYSO and Little League Baseball, he would often see a divide between the parents who have the same Japanese heritage.  Looking to overcome this divide, Jesse organized gatherings over pizza to allow parents and teammates alike to bond over food.  He feels that his bicultural and bilingual background helps to break down the language barriers that may be present.  His goal is to show similarities in interest despite different upbringings.

 

We are the new generation of non-profit organizations that can cross over to both Japanese and Japanese Americans.  We want to create a stage for the future generations to meet and explore opportunities as well as make new connections while supporting the communities.

 

Jesse’s favorite aspect of the Japanese culture is its deeply rooted traditions.

 

Jesse Hiraki


Jesse Hiraki is a Kibei Nisei, or 2nd Generation Japanese American, who grew up in Northern California but spent his teen years in Fukuoka Ken, Okawa-Shi, Japan.  He returned to the US and moved to Los Angeles ten years ago.  He currently runs his own consulting business, helping Japanese companies with satellite offices in the US and American companies looking to do business in Japan.  Because his father ran a kendo dojo in Northern California, Jesse always saw the importance of helping both Japanese and Japanese Americans communicate, specifically through children’s sports.  He considers himself bilingual and bicultural, thanks to his dual upbringing in California and Japan.

 

Jesse has always had a passion for sports and his two children share that enthusiasm.  As an active volunteer for AYSO and Little League Baseball, he would often see a divide between the parents who have the same Japanese heritage.  Looking to overcome this divide, Jesse organized gatherings over pizza to allow parents and teammates alike to bond over food.  He feels that his bicultural and bilingual background helps to break down the language barriers that may be present.  His goal is to show similarities in interest despite different upbringings.

 

We are the new generation of non-profit organizations that can cross over to both Japanese and Japanese Americans.  We want to create a stage for the future generations to meet and explore opportunities as well as make new connections while supporting the communities.

 

Jesse’s favorite aspect of the Japanese culture is its deeply rooted traditions.

 

Kanon Mori


Kanon Mori was born in Torrance, CA and is a current student at South Torrance High School. She is a bilingual and bicultural Nisei whose Japanese parents came over to L.A. after finishing college. She has attended Nishiyamato Gakuen through elementary school and grew up in a traditional Japanese household where she learned to value both the Japanese and American cultures.


As a student in an ethnically diverse school, Kanon is well aware of the cultural differences among students (even with the same roots as Japanese) that creates divisions of ideas and loss of unity. Yet despite the loss of cultural resemblance, interactions with others help discover the aspects they can all agree on and help create strong bonds with each other. It is in these moments when Kanon feels pure joy and the desire to become the bridge between dividing cultures to bring back unity and the excitement of alliance.


Kanon’s favorite aspect of the Japanese culture is its emphasis on appreciation -- from the people around you to the little occurrences in daily life, being able to feel appreciation purifies the people’s soul and creates a harmonious society.

Kanon Mori


Kanon Mori was born in Torrance, CA and is a current student at South Torrance High School. She is a bilingual and bicultural Nisei whose Japanese parents came over to L.A. after finishing college. She has attended Nishiyamato Gakuen through elementary school and grew up in a traditional Japanese household where she learned to value both the Japanese and American cultures.


As a student in an ethnically diverse school, Kanon is well aware of the cultural differences among students (even with the same roots as Japanese) that creates divisions of ideas and loss of unity. Yet despite the loss of cultural resemblance, interactions with others help discover the aspects they can all agree on and help create strong bonds with each other. It is in these moments when Kanon feels pure joy and the desire to become the bridge between dividing cultures to bring back unity and the excitement of alliance.


Kanon’s favorite aspect of the Japanese culture is its emphasis on appreciation -- from the people around you to the little occurrences in daily life, being able to feel appreciation purifies the people’s soul and creates a harmonious society.

Megumi Kinjo


Megumi Kinjo was born in Daito-city, Osaka and grew up in Chiba, Japan. Ever since junior high school, her favorite subject was English and she has always wanted to live and work abroad. She participated in a homestay program in Australia as well as studied abroad for a short period in Los Angeles and India during her college years. After 10 years working at Japanese travel agency, her dream came true at last, and she was transferred to branch in Los Angeles in 2014. After 4 years of working, she got married to a 2nd generation of Japanese American, and currently helps in his family business in finance.


One of the biggest surprises when Megumi came to Los Angeles was the amount of traditional Japanese culture maintained within the communities through Japanese groups for the traditions of Kimono,Taiko, tea, and ikebana (floral arrangement); Kenjin Kais, which are prefectural clubs that pride themselves in their local heritage; and youth organizations like sports leagues, Japanese temples, and Japanese schools. Through these groups, the traditional culture has been passed down from generation to generation and allows the Japanese Americans to know more about Japanese culture/history/style sometimes more than the Japanese (like me!)


I cannot express enough feelings of many appreciation toward Japanese Americans who established Japanese community today after long history.

I'm excited to be a one of members contribute to continue Japanese tradition and culture at Japan Alliance.

Megumi's favorite aspect of the Japanese culture is Hospitality (Omotenashi) to others.

Megumi Kinjo


Megumi Kinjo was born in Daito-city, Osaka and grew up in Chiba, Japan. Ever since junior high school, her favorite subject was English and she has always wanted to live and work abroad. She participated in a homestay program in Australia as well as studied abroad for a short period in Los Angeles and India during her college years. After 10 years working at Japanese travel agency, her dream came true at last, and she was transferred to branch in Los Angeles in 2014. After 4 years of working, she got married to a 2nd generation of Japanese American, and currently helps in his family business in finance.


One of the biggest surprises when Megumi came to Los Angeles was the amount of traditional Japanese culture maintained within the communities through Japanese groups for the traditions of Kimono,Taiko, tea, and ikebana (floral arrangement); Kenjin Kais, which are prefectural clubs that pride themselves in their local heritage; and youth organizations like sports leagues, Japanese temples, and Japanese schools. Through these groups, the traditional culture has been passed down from generation to generation and allows the Japanese Americans to know more about Japanese culture/history/style sometimes more than the Japanese (like me!)


I cannot express enough feelings of many appreciation toward Japanese Americans who established Japanese community today after long history.

I'm excited to be a one of members contribute to continue Japanese tradition and culture at Japan Alliance.

Megumi's favorite aspect of the Japanese culture is Hospitality (Omotenashi) to others.