San Francisco Tomonkai

About the San Francisco Tomonkai

The San Francisco Tomonkai was founded in May 1975, thanks largely to the efforts of the late Mr. Shinichi Suzuki, then Managing Director of Kikkoman International Inc. The inaugural meeting was attended by more than 70 alumni. The 1970s and 1980s saw many Japanese companies expanding their businesses overseas, buoyed by the jubilant mood caused by the “bubble economy.” While this trend and the ensuing bursting of the bubble caused fluctuations in membership, the San Francisco Tomonkai has remained strong for 46 years.

During these years, we were privileged to welcome many Waseda University presidents, including Professor Haruo Nishihara and Professor Katsuhiko Shirai. In 2012, we played a central role in organizing a party to celebrate the opening of the WASEDA USA San Francisco Office in the presence of President Kaoru Kamata. In 2018, Club Glee, composed of senior alumni of Waseda University’s Glee Club, visited the city, and we cooperated with them to organize concerts and get-togethers at churches.

Currently, we have about 100 members in total, comprising alumni who are in their 20s to those aged over 80 years. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to hold bimonthly networking events and the yearly general meeting online. We hope to deepen friendships and recruit new members through the Waseda-Keio golf tournaments in the spring and fall, joint barbecue for university alumni associations, welcome parties for new members, and bimonthly networking events from this year onward. For more information, please visit our website or the Facebook group.
Kota Takamatsu (Graduated in 1999, School of Science and Engineering)

San Francisco Tomonkai Website: https://sftomonkai.exblog.jp/
San Francisco Tomonkai Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/440794402622077


Waseda beats Keio in the 2019 golf tournament

The attractive points of San Francisco

Blessed with mild weather throughout the year, San Francisco is a very pleasant city for people to live in. An hour’s drive will take you to some of California’s most famous wine regions, such as Napa and Sonoma, and driving a little further will take you to the natural wonders of Yosemite National Park, a World Heritage site.

The Bay Area and its surroundings are known as major hubs of world-leading advanced technology companies. Self-driving test cars and delivery robots run around the city, giving you the sense of Silicon Valley’s high technologies that have changed the world.

There is significant ethnic diversity in the area. Here, I feel no discomfort at all about being Japanese or a foreigner. The diversity and liberal mindset of the residents make life quite exciting both at work and in private. Every day truly allows us to “work hard and play hard.”
Naohiko Miyamoto (Graduated from School of Science and Engineering in 2000 and Graduate School of Science and Engineering in 2002)


View from the top of Yosemite National Park’s Half Dome

Off-season vineyard in Paso Robles

Message from the Chairperson

The motto of the San Francisco Tomonkai is “Let’s deepen the ties among the alumni, connect with Waseda University, and further expand the circle of people.” In March 2020, shortly after I was elected the 14th chairperson of the association, the area was locked down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and all association gatherings and events that my predecessors and coordinators had worked hard to plan and hold regularly had to be canceled. The board meetings and yearly general meetings were held in the form of a video conference. In May 2021, we held an online rakugo (Japanese traditional comic storytelling) show in cooperation with the Los Angeles Tomonkai and the Tokyo Branch of our own association. We shared an enjoyable time together.

The history of the exchange between Waseda University and this area has been quite long. In 1905, during the Russo-Japanese War, the Waseda University baseball team visited the US for the first time and played against the Stanford University team (a news article about the game was published in the May 1, 1905, issue of The Daily Palo Alto). Waseda University sent its baseball team to the US before any other Japanese school, at a time when Japan was at war. This is precisely an expression of “the spirit of progressivism.” An increasing number of Waseda students are on leave to study at the University of California, Berkeley and other nearby universities. Through our support, our bond with our alma mater grows stronger quickly.

If you are in town, whether for business or leisure, and if you have moved to this area, please contact us. You will be most welcome. Let us expand the alumni circle together.
Takashi Nishimura (Graduated from School of Science and Engineering in 1975 and Graduate School of Science and Engineering in 1977)

Messages from the Members

In 1977 I quit working as a medical office assistant to become secretary to the general manager of Mitsui Bank of California in downtown San Francisco. At the time, many Japanese companies were thriving, and many more were trying to get a foothold in the U.S. The bank’s senior director knew I was a Waseda graduate and mentioned that there was an alumni association called San Francisco Tomonkai and gave me their contact information. The group welcomed me warmly, especially because they had few female members. Although more women joined in the 1990s, some of the younger ladies felt a bit of a gender gap with the older male members. At one point, a few women even wanted to create their own “sorority” version of Tomonkai. Thankfully that didn’t happen. Today, forty-four years after I joined, we have one, strong San Francisco Tomonkai.
Yuko Franklin (Graduated in 1973, School of Literature Ⅰ)

As vice chairperson of San Francisco Tomonkai, I have organized many social events that utilize the synergy between the Japanese cultural strengths and the multicultural profile in the Bay Area. Some events included book drives, movies which were directed by Waseda alumni parties, and a tour of a sake brewery located in Berkeley. Moreover, we planned thought-provoking sessions with Waseda alumni and students working and studying or entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. The intended objective was to directly expose our association members to the real business sentiments and dynamic networking techniques of Silicon Valley. Due to COVID-19, the plan did not materialize. Regardless, San Francisco Tomonkai consists of various talented members, and the member diversity will provide more exciting networking activities between Japan and the Bay Area in the coming years. I am excited to see San Francisco Tomonkai will be colorfully blooming further for years and years.
Eka Meyer (Graduated from School of Literature Ⅱ in 1994 and Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies in 2000)


Book drive, a regular fall event

Silicon Valley, which includes San Francisco is said to be the most innovative ecosystem in the world, with Google, Apple, Meta, and various technology companies, startups, corporations, universities, and venture capitalists. There is no doubt even in Japan, you are always using several of these tech company services and products that were born here these days. Surprisingly, Japan ranks at the top of the list of countries that have innovation hubs in the Bay Area (JETRO 2019 Business Report ). A variety of Japanese companies are working very hard on seeking innovation and new technology for new business opportunities. Living in such a challenging environment is a great way to practice the spirit of progressivism that has been nurtured at Waseda.
Mitsumasa Aoki (Graduated in 2005, School of Social Sciences)

List of Overseas Branches/
Overseas Tomonkai/
Overseas Tomonkai
Japanese Branches

Overseas Branches
Alumni Association in China / Alumni Association in Korea / Alumni Association in Taiwan
Overseas Tomonkai
Asia
Bangalore Tomonkai / Bangkok Tomonkai / Beijing Tomonkai / Cambodia Tomonkai /
Dalian Tomonkai / Hanoi Tomonkai / Hong Kong Tomonkai / India Tomonkai /
Jakarta Tomonkai / Kanan (South China) Tomonkai / Malaysia Tomonkai / Manila Tomonkai / Mumbai Tomonkai / Myanmar Tomonkai / Saigon Tomonkai / Seoul Tomonkai / Shanghai Tomonkai / Singapore Tomonkai / Suzhou Tomonkai / Taipei Tomonkai / Ulan Bator Tomonkai
Oceania
Brisbane Tomonkai / Melbourne Tomonkai / Perth Tomonkai / Sydney Tomonkai
North America
Boston Tomonkai / Chicago Tomonkai / Georgia Tomonkai / Hawaii Tomonkai / Los Angeles Tomonkai / Michigan Tomonkai / New York Tomonkai / San Francisco Tomonkai / Seattle Tomonkai / Toronto Tomonkai / Vancouver Tomonkai / Greater Washington Tomonkai
Central and South America
Brazil Tomonkai / Chile Tomonkai / Lima Tomonkai / Mexico Tomonkai
Europe
Belgium Tomonkai / Berlin Tomonkai / Denmark Tomonkai / Dusseldorf Tomonkai /
Frankfurt Tomonkai / Geneva Tomonkai / Moscow Tomonkai / Netherlands Tomonkai / Paris Tomonkai / Stockholm Tomonkai / UK Tomonkai
Middle East
Abu Dhabi Tomonkai / Dubai Tomonkai / Qatar Tomonkai / Tehran Tomonkai
Africa
Egypt Tomonkai / Johannesburg Tomonkai / Kenya Tomonkai
Overseas Tomonkai Japanese Branches
Bangkok Tomonkai Japanese Branch / Beijing Tomonkai Tokyo Branch / Dusseldorf Tomonkai Tokyo Branch / Gaoxiong Tomonkai Alumni Association / Hanoi Tomonkai Japanese Branch / Jakarta Tomonkai Alumni Association / Los Angeles Tomonkai Japan / New York Tomonkai Tokyo Branch /
Paris Tomonkai Tokyo Branch / Saigon Tomonkai Japanese Branch / Shanghai Tomonkai Tokyo Branch / Singapore Tomonkai Japanese Branch / Tokyo Brazil Tomonkai / Tokyo Hong Kong Tomonkai / Tokyo Melbourne Tomonkai / UK Tomonkai Tokyo Branch