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2-day event celebrates Asian culture, history

The Asian Influence in the Sierra event takes place in Auburn
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Remember the Historic Shanghai Restaurant and Bar in Old Auburn? How about Tsuda’s Grocery, Alpine Market, or Yamasaki Nursery (where the Bel Air shopping center sits today)? How about Ikeda’s, or Main Drug in Loomis? These all have one thing in common: They were founded by Asian families in the community.

Auburn’s Let’s Never Forget Series presents a festive celebration of “The Asian Influence in the Sierra” on Friday April 6 in Penryn and Saturday April 7 at City Hall in Downtown Auburn.

Events are planned to honor the contributions, experiences, history and resilience of the first generations of Asian Americans in the foothills.

Private tours are scheduled for Friday morning to visit the Japanese garden “Myo-Wa-En Garden of Peace and Tranquility” located in Granite Bay.

Open only by appointment, this garden is a very popular destination, and a few $15 tickets are still available at letsneverforgetseries.org.

On Friday evening a Gala Dinner will be held at Placer Buddhist Church in Penryn, featuring a no-host bar, Chinese appetizers (paper-wrapped chicken, dumplings and more) and an elegant Japanese Bento box dinners (choice of chicken, salmon or tofu entree in a souvenir bento box) provided by local restaurants. Dessert is included.

The program will include live music by Auburn’s Wild Duck, that recently performed at the Chinese New Year celebration in Old Town Auburn last month. Tickets are $50 and available at letsneverforgetseries.org.

The Gala will honor local families of Chinese and Japanese ancestry and commemorate their many accomplishments — including contributions to gold mining history, helping build the railroad, developing a strong agricultural economy, establishing a variety of businesses and providing medical services.

On Saturday, April 7 a free family friendly event  will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Auburn City Hall. This event coincides with the grand opening celebration of an Asian-themed art show presented by the Auburn Arts Commission.

Enjoy Chinese Lion Dancers (at 10:15 a.m.), Placer Ume Taiko drummers (at 11:15 a.m.), cultural displays in the Rose Room, demonstrations of Chinese instruments, a display of heritage bonsai, learn about ikebana and origami.

Documentary films will be shown including “Chinese Builders of Gold Mountain” by award-winning filmmaker Bill George, followed by his short film about Placer Japanese American Citizens League. Films will be at noon in the city council chambers.

In a finale to the event Sierra College student Zephyr Neumann will present the premiere of his short documentary “The Japanese American Experience,” capturing Auburn’s “One Book One Community” event and delving into the lives of Japanese Americans in our region.

Founded in 2014, the Let’s Never Forget series covers a changing theme each year.

“Our goal is to engage residents and visitors of all ages in the topic, with the intent of inspiring our audience to continue on their own exploration ... and to never forget,” the organization said in a news release.