For one extraordinary evening, September 14, the upstairs ballroom of the Wyndam Hotel in San Jose was transformed into an enchanted Hawaiian paradise where 300 guests in colorful “Aloha” attire gathered to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the San Jose Buddhist Judo Club (“SJB”). For some, it had been 10 years since attending the 50th SJB anniversary dinner, and for others, it was their first gala event recognizing one of the oldest and 2nd largest judo clubs in the nation. For members and families of SJB, it was a special time away from the rigors of the dojo, to relax and reminisce and to create new memories for the club’s next anniversary celebration.
As guests mingled in the foyer, they were treated to hors d’oeuvres and a walk-down memory lane. Beautiful photographic displays dating back to the very first SJB Judo class to a 2007 team tournament in San Francisco as well as a variety of memorabilia including tarnished and decade’s old trophies and red clip-on ties worn by students back in the day when dressing up for an awards banquet was a requirement not a request, offered a glimpse of the past, and for some, recollections of a loved one or an unforgettable judo moment(s). A video kiosk covering footage of 60 years of SJB judo added a special touch to the exhibit.
Channel 11 Traffic Anchor Michael Inouye graced the podium as the wonderfully witty and entertaining celebrity emcee. As he proceeded through the evening agenda, introducing such honored guests as Yosh Uchida, the 1st Olympic Judo Coach and Head Coach for the San Jose State Judo Team, and Mike Swain, four-time Olympian and Olympic Bronze Medalist, his self-deprecating humor prompted roars of laughter from the audience.
Other highlights of the evening included award presentations to past Junior National champions and a large screen presentation of personal interviews with SJB sensei expressing their heartfelt experiences and histories with SJB Judo. Following dinner, the guests were treated to live Hawaiian music performed by Steven Espinola and his band as well as a graceful hula from Carolyn Takahashi. And later in the program, a normally polished San Jose State Judo Team received cheers for their “hula-riffic” attempts at dancing to the music of Going to the Hukilau. Unfortunately, the Judo Team’s hula was no match for the sweet vocals of Sensei Danny Kikuchi, son of Don “Moon” Kikuchi, the founder of SJB Judo Club. If there were an award for “Entertainer of the Evening,” it would be Sensei Kikuchi’s for his outstanding and surprise solo rendition of IZ’ famous Somewhere Over the Rainbow.
The evening quietly came to a close as the words to the song, Hawaii Aloha (Beloved Hawaii), flashed on two large screens while the guests joined hands around the room swaying and singing against a backdrop of Hawaiian tiki gods, palm trees and bright red anthuriums; a perfect finale to a perfect 60th Anniversary celebration.
To view some photos of the evening please click on: http://www.sjbjudo.org/gallery2/gallery2/main.php?g2_itemId=2474