Higashi Fukawa was born in the United States in 1928. Sent back to Japan for school when he was 5, he remained there throughout World War II. After the war, he returned to the United States where he was soon drafted into the U.S. Army, serving as an interpreter during the Korean War. When his war service was over he, and new bride Haruko, settled in San Francisco.
With help from the GI bill, Higashi earned a BA in Anthropology but was unable to find work in the San Francisco area. With a growing young family to support, Fukawa joined the Teamsters and became a proud “Teamo”. When, at one point, he was laid off, he was able to use his accrued vacation benefits to open a business for his wife while he worked out of the Teamsters’ union hall. His wife started the Hopkins Launderette across from Monterey Market; Haruko, and daughter Kumi are still in business today.
Higashi and Haruko soon moved their young family to Berkeley and sent their three children off to the nearby public schools. Higashi and Haruko worried that their children might struggle to find their place in mainstream American culture. Those concerns subsided in the fourth grade when all Berkeley children are introduced to music. It soon became clear that music would be the means for the Fukawa children to find their footing and their community.
Eventually, all 3 of the Fukawa children found their way to Cazadero Music Camp as campers, while daughters Doris and Kumi also became part of the staff. Fukawa was impressed by the profound educational and life experiences the camp offered and he was moved that this opportunity was open to all Berkeley residents, even a working class family of color like his.
Fukawa deeply valued what Cazadero strives to provide, a welcoming place where students of all socio-economic and cultural backgrounds can find meaningful commonality. He referred to Caz as the best “salad”.
This fund, The Higashi Fukawa Scholarship Fund for Strings, was established in 1997 to honor and memorialize Fukawa’s love and pride in his family as well as his appreciation of the positive impact Caz had in his children’s lives. This fund provides scholarships for serious, young, east-bay musicians from financially challenged families, enabling them to attend Cazadero and benefit from it’s magic just as the Fukawa family did.