Art and pleasure on the menu of the dinner program for seniors

From left to right: Doug Nakada, Scott Hamamoto, Susan Shojinaga and Patti Kimura.


Getting older usually means more white hair, the inner ears don’t pick up sounds very well, and maybe the muscles and joints start to ache more. But despite all these changes, getting older comes with senior discounts and doing fun things with other seniors! So why not just grab your cane or walker and have more exciting days? Hooray!

On August 15, approximately 50 seniors enjoyed the Keiro and Japanese American Cultural and Community Center (JACCC) Bento and Art Lunch program for seniors. Many seniors took the charter bus from the Japanese American Community Center in the San Fernando Valley and a few members drove their own cars to Little Tokyo.

The newly built dining hall, Toshizo Watanabe Culinary and Cultural Center is so beautiful. It’s pleasantly modern with floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the peaceful James Irvine Japanese Garden.

Chef Chris Ono’s bentos were served in wooden boxes.

We were all treated to the culinary talent of Rising Chef in Residency Chris Ono. As a Yonsei, Chef Ono grew up eating the Japanese American comfort food flavors we all know. He masterfully made slight changes and created a meal with much more flavor.

Our bento, in a real wooden box, was filled with sautéed chicken and summer vegetables with a miso crab sauce, “toriniku to natsu yasai no saute/kani miso sosu”. The nori furikake, sprinkled over the rice, was Chef Ono’s own recipe. Usually I try to avoid eating a lot of carbs, like rice. But unexpectedly I couldn’t stop eating the delicious meal and suddenly my bento box was totally EMPTY!

Left to right: Fumiyo Chludzinski, Will Nakada, Susan Shojinaga, Doug Nakada, Gary Nakada, Kisui Fujimoto, Patti Kimura, Tadao Okui, Lois Okui.

Next on the agenda was our art lesson. Jane Matsumoto, JACCC Culinary Cultural Arts Program Director, taught us how to use furoshiki. Furoshiki are traditional Japanese wrapping fabrics that are used to wrap or transport goods. Instead of using paper gift bags or wrapping paper, it is interesting to give a Japanese-style wrapped gift. We were shown how to wrap our wooden bento box and the borosilicate glass bottle we were given.

After the delicious meal and taking in the relaxing view of the Japanese garden, admiring the furoshiki-wrapped boxes, and chatting with my friends, I felt my love for Japanese culture blossom within me. I am very grateful for another wonderful day.

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