The Orange Story’s Premiere is in NYC July 23 at the Asian American International Film Festival!

An American Tale

Source: The Orange Story’s Premiere is in NYC July 23 at the Asian American International Film Festival!

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Upcoming Peace-Themed Seminar


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Pictures from Aikido on Daley Plaza

Members of Chicago Aikido Club and Chicago Aikikai were given a warm reception by the Asian American Coalition of Chicago and the public crowd that had gathered to watch their lunchtime demo as part of 15th Asian American Festival at Daley Center Plaza. Despite some cloudy skies and signs of possible rain, the demo went off without a hitch. Emcees Joanie Lum (news reporter, WFLD-TV Channel 32)and Rose Tibayan (award-winning broadcast journalist and digital media entrepreneur) were especially pleased to see strong female representation from Qin Zheng and Satoko Bourdaghs from Chicago Aikikai.


Sean Bruegman watches Qin Zheng and Stephen Weinberg


Stephen Weinberg performing ikkyo (first technique) on Dwight Sora (Satoko Bourdagh in background).


Left to Right: Kendrick Suenaga, Satoko Bourdagh, Dwight Sora, Megan Nakano (Honorary VP for 2014 Host Community), Martino Tangkar (Indonesian American community representative, AACC Board of Directors), Stephen Weinberg, Satoko Bourdagh and Qin Zheng.

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Stay Calm, Parents

On Monday, May 9 and Wednesday, May 11, Chicago Aikido Club (CAC) member Dwight Sora gave a short demonstration of aikido for the parents and children of the Tampopo Kai play group at the Japanese American Service Committee (JASC) of Chicago.

Aikido Pushing

Invited by Tampopo Kai organizer Naomi Negi, Sora (whose 22-month-year old son Jack regularly attends Tampopo on Mondays) gave a short explanation of aikido’s history and principles, and then demonstrated some basic techniques. He was partly aided in his demonstration by fellow parent Shimako Asakawa Walker (a former student of Tatsuo Toyoda Sensei at Tenshinkan Dojo), as well as some volunteers from the audience.

Aikido with Baby

Video from the presentation may be viewed here

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Aikido on Daley Plaza

There will be a joint aikido demo by members of Chicago Aikido Club and Chicago Aikikai as part of the 15th Asian American Festival at Daley Center Plaza, sponsored by the Asian American Coalition of Chicago. The demo is scheduled for Wednesday, May 18 around 12:45 pm. If you happen to be downtown that day and have time to support us, come on by.


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Aikido Instructor Relives the Past


A member of the crew adjusts Joe Takehara’s wardrobe

On Thursday, April 28, Chicago Aikido Club senior instructor Joe Takehara stepped back through time into his own past. Although the actual place was the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, Illinois, it had been dressed up with props and other items to recreate the moment when Japanese Americans were forced to leave their homes and board trains, eventually bound for “internment camps” set up in rural areas around the U.S. following the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor that kicked off the Pacific War and full-scale American involvement in World War II. As a result of public wartime hysteria and racial intolerance, more than 110,000 Japanese Americans, nearly all who lived on the West Coast and including many American citizens, lost the homes and businesses they had spent lives building up, and would largely remain in the camps until 1944.

This was the set for The Orange Story, a short film in which Takehara plays a West Coast grocery store owner named Koji Oshima saying goodbye to his store before heading to the camps. The film is the first of four planned productions, and is being made in conjunction with an educational website for inclusion in curriculums at all levels of education.

The film is being produced by Chicago filmmaker Eugene Sun Park and his company Full Spectrum Features, in collaboration with fellow filmmaker Jason Matsumoto (a member of the Japanese drumming group Ho Etsu Taiko and is providing the soundtrack).


A shot is lined up on set

In real life, Takehara grew up in San Diego, California, and was relocated with his family to Poston War Relocation Center in southwestern Arizona. When the internment ended in 1945, his family migrated east, following a wave of some 20,000 Japanese American resettlers from various camps to Chicago (he was fourteen at the time).

The Orange Story is also being shot in California, and is slated to be released this year. It has been partially made possible by a nearly $160,000 grant from the National Park Service, which allocates funding for projects commemorating and preserving Japanese American confinement sites.

If you are interested in more information about The Orange Story project, please contact Jason at or 773.504.4107.



An official fundraising campaign has been launched for The Orange Story. If you are interested in contributing, please visit the campaign website at

Please include any of these links to your family and friends if they’d like to learn more:
Project Website:

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Group photo from the railroad shoot






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Visit to Tenshinkan Dojo


On Wednesday, April 20, several members of Chicago Aikido Club were guests of Tatsuo Toyoda Sensei and his students at Tenshinkan Dojo (headquarters of Aikido Association of America), based at Japanese Culture Center in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago. Instruction during class was split between Toyoda Sensei and Dwight Sora, followed by some lively conversation and socializing over drinks.

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More Blasts from Chicago Aikido’s Past

Earlier, we posted a photo from the original Illinois Aikido Club provided by our friend Erik Matsunaga, who is involved in ongoing research into the history of the Japanese American community in Chicago. Here are some more gems from the past given to us by Erik.

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Midwest Bridge 2016 Photos

Attendees of the Midwest Aikido Bridge 2016 seminar, hosted by Abiding Spirit Center.

The instructors of Midwest Aikido Bridge 2016.

L to R: Andy Sato (6th Dan, Kiku Matsu Dojo),  Wendy Whited (7th Dan, Inaka Dojo), Hiroshi Ikeda (7th Dan, Boulder Aikikai), Joe Takehara (6th Dan, Chicago Aikido Club), M. Rock Lazo (5th Dan, Midwest Aikido Center; Kenosha, Aikikai Aikido), Rodger Park (6th Dan, Huron Valley Aikikai)

Joe throwing

Joe Takehara instructing at the seminar.

Joe and Joanne

Joe Takehara with CAC member Joanne Doi

Kendrick training

CAC member Kendrick Suenaga deep in concentration

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Happy 85th Birthday Takehara Sensei

Memorable 85th birthday for Takehara Sensei this year. He gave a great class as part of the Midwest Bridge seminar, followed by dinner at Chinese dinner at Gourmet House in Algonquin and presentation of cards and a birthday cake made by our friend Aki at Café Furaibo (A little bit of unintended humor though, as the cake misspelled his last name “Takhara.”).


Joe and cake


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