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Japan & Black L.A. Initiative Launched with Onigiri Workshop (West District)

On March 27, the West District of the California-Pacific Conference, in partnership with the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles and Japan Foundation Los Angeles, co-sponsored an online onigiri workshop in an effort to begin building bridges between shared aspects of Black American and Japanese culture that will broaden mutual understanding as global citizens.

This inaugural event of the Japan & Black L.A. Initiative* was virtually hosted through the #OnigiriAction project by TABLE FOR TWO International, a nonprofit which globally donates to provide school meals to children in need. The event drew close to 30 participants from different age groups, many of whom made onigiri, Japanese rice balls considered the “soul food” of Japan, live in the kitchen of their own homes with kits provided by the nonprofit.

In the session guided by the nonprofit’s online instructor, one participant remarked: “This brings back so many memories of my elementary school classmate/Japanese neighbor living beside our African American family. My Dad rigged a pulley basket between our bedrooms and we would send treats and notes back and forth.” ​

The second event will be an origami (Japanese papercraft) workshop, which will be held later this month.

* The Japan & Black L.A. Initiative grew out of conversations between the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles and local pastors of predominantly Black churches of the Cal-Pac West District in the Greater Los Angeles area. It aims to work with children, youth, and adults in the communities of Los Angeles, a city which represents the extraordinary diversity of the United States, in the work of anti-racism. The Cal-Pac West District has the highest number of Black congregations in the Western Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church (UMC); the Cal-Pac Conference, the highest number of historic Japanese American congregations in the country.