Japanese-American church celebrates 63 years of tradition with Sukiyaki Dinner | Community Spirit
If you’ve ever thought Spokane has no diversity, you may just not be looking in the right place.
Nestled in the middle of the East Central neighborhood, the Highland Park United Methodist Church has been the center point for many Japanese-Americans in Spokane for decades. This Saturday, the church goes back to its roots with their 63rd annual Sukiyaki Dinner.
More than 100 volunteers have been busy getting ready for Saturday’s dinner, which features Sukiyaki, a type of Japanese stir-fry mixing beef and tofu.
Chairwoman Margie Miyoshi and Charlotte Tetsuka, planners for the event, stressed the tradition of the dinner and what it means for their community.
“A long time ago… [the church] needed some extra funds. It was kind of unusual back then, [Spokane] didn’t have that many Japanese places back then,” Miyoshi said.
The church is more than just a place of worship, it is one of the oldest Japanese-American communities in Spokane, with about 300 members. The Sukiyaki dinner started in 1949 as a fundraiser and has transformed into a celebration of the church’s Japanese roots and the foundation of their community.
“Issei’s were the ones who started [the dinner]. We used to have stage performances and flower arrangements too,” Tetsuka said. Issei is the Japanese word for the first generation Americans born from Japanese immigrants.
At the peak of its success, the dinner used to be two nights and would serve about 2,000 people. Since then, the dinner has downsized due to the aging congregation.
“It’s amazing, we all work really hard. Some of us are even in our 80s,” Miyoshi said. “We want people to know that our church exists and maybe even bring in some young people... Besides tradition, we’d like to pass this on. We’ve had a lot of good times here.”
Event Details: For anyone interested in attending tomorrow’s dinner at Highland Park Methodist Church, they’re located at 611 S. Garfield St. Tickets to the event are $12.50. The dinner goes from noon to 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 28th.