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November 28, 1986|JODY BECKER

The spirit of traditional Japan--diluted somewhat by the Americana of the Emerald Hotel of Anaheim--made for a festive evening Saturday night as 400 members of Orange County's Japanese American Council gathered to dine, see old friends and celebrate the completion of the "Nikkei Legacy of Orange County," 15 oral histories documenting the history of the county's Japanese population. "So many people don't know that we have a multicultural community in Orange County," said Elizabeth Tierney, president of the Orange County Historical and Cultural Foundation, the parent organization of the council.

"People don't know because it's not documented and promoted, and that's our mission. Orange County history and citizens are only enriched by the kind of legacy we present tonight," she said.

Before the lights went down and slides were presented, guests had the chance to admire a colorful collection of origami--the Japanese art of folding paper to form flowers and animals--and displays of traditional Japanese children's games, which go to hundreds of Orange County classrooms every year.

Yakiko Sato of Tokyo, who temporarily makes her home in Irvine, said the origami and much of the translation of oral histories was the work of the Eucalyptus Club, made up of the wives of Japanese businessmen living in Orange County.

Newscaster Tritia Toyota was mistress of ceremonies, and after the dinner (disappointingly untraditional--not a bite of sushi or sip of sake to be had) she graciously named all who had made the evening possible, from the Japanese and academic communities.

Among those recognized for their efforts toward completing the "Nikkei Legacy" were Arthur Hansen, a professor of history at Cal State Long Beach, the coordinator of oral history gathering and translation; the late Justice Stephen K. Tamura of the 4th District Court of Appeal, to whom the project was dedicated in gratitude for his efforts and encouragement, and the many Orange County issei and nissei (first- and second-generation Japanese-Americans) who gave their time in interviews to make the legacy possible.

After the brief slide presentation, featuring historic images of Orange County's Japanese community, guests were treated to traditional Japanese song and dance performances, including a mini-Kabuki.

Among those enjoying the evening were Dr. Sam and Carol Kawanami, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Ishii, Mrs. Kay Tamura and Hideya and Yasko Gamo.

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