Eric Tamichi knows that once you put your heart and soul into the Diablo Japanese American Club, you're in it for life.
And for Tamichi, he's served the club since he was 11, when he played basketball with the organization's athletic group.
As a child whose parents were club members, Tamichi also helped with the annual Diablo Japanese American Summer Festival. He remembers when he worked at the popular games booth. Now, Tamichi's son has inherited that duty.
But the most popular booth -- the one at which all the kids wanted to work -- was the shaved ice booth. Every teen wished to master the art of making the perfect snow cone, said Tamichi, "as well as have fun playing with the ice on a hot day."
Tamichi has served the club for more than 30 years.
He invites the community to attend the Summer Festival, the club's annual fundraiser that supports the organization's several cultural programs that includes flower arranging, bon odori dancing and Japanese language.
"It's also a great opportunity for people to learn about Japanese culture," said Tamichi, who's now in charge of the udon noodle booth.
Other highlights of the event include calligraphy, bonsai display, judo, Taiko drumming, folk dancing, and Japanese cuisine.
"Probably the biggest benefit is sharing our most fundamental cultural item with the community -- food," said Ronald Onizuka, the festival chairman. "If there's one consistent thing between
Tamichi said there's no admission to the festival because the event has traditionally prided itself on being accessible to the community. It's like inviting someone to your home for food and entertainment, but to support a good cause, he said.
When Tamichi was 17, he recalled that an elderly man, Tom Morodomi, started the shaved ice booth and was looking for someone younger to help him out. Since then, teens have stepped up to volunteer at the booth.
Being involved with the Diablo Japanese American Club and festival remains a part of you no matter where you go, said Tamichi, a Northgate High School grad. When he and his family moved to Canada for a few years, they often thought about the club they left behind. When they moved back to the area, taking part in the festivities seemed the natural thing to do.
Tamichi and his wife, Carlene, met through the club when they were in the eighth grade but didn't start dating until their last year of college. Both their families knew each other through the club.
Now the Tamichis, who live in Concord, have raised their daughter and son to become involved in club activities. Both children have been active with the athletic group and both volunteer each year at the festival, Tamichi said.
Tamichi and his wife also mentor students through the club's Young Buddhist Association.
"So the involvement in the club isn't just the religious aspect, it's also the cultural aspect," he said.
It's an event that the Diablo Japanese American Club families look forward to each year, Tamichi said.
"We know not to take a vacation during the second week of August because it's a time to help out with the festival," he said. "It's an annual reunion. We may cross paths a few times within a year, but at least once a year, you see people you've grown up with."
Who: Diablo Japanese American Club
What: Summer Festival
When: 1-9 p.m. Aug. 11; noon-8:30 p.m. Aug. 12; free admission
Where: Diablo Japanese American Club, 3165 Treat Blvd., Concord
Information/Schedule of events: Visit http://www.diablojaclub.com/summer-festival or call 925-682-5299
Transportation: Free parking and festival shuttle at Ygnacio Valley High School, 755 Oak Grove Road, Concord