Award-winning kazari created by (from left): Fugetsu-Do employees (Families/Individuals); Tochigi Kenjinkai (Kenjinkai and People’s Choice Award); Japanese Pioneer Center Photo Class (Nonprofit Organizations); Supervisor Gloria Molina (Government and Founders Award); All Nippon Airways (Business); L.A. Gedatsu Church (Anime/Manga). (Photo by Shun Kawabe/

The winners of the fifth annual Los Angeles Tanabata Festival’s kazari (giant decoration) contest have been announced.

The festival, held from Aug. 9 to 12 on the plaza of the Japanese American National Museum and MOCA/Geffen in Little Tokyo, was part of the Nisei Week Japanese Festival. It was presented by the Little Tokyo Public Safety Association (Koban), the Nanka Kenjinkai Kyogikai (Japanese prefectural associations in Southern California) and Nisei Week. 

Brian Kito, 2013 Tanabata Festival chairman, stated, “The theme this year is ‘Children’s Dreams’ … This year was our best ever with an estimated audience of over 50,000 over the three-day festival and Monday viewing. The new layout and hard work of the volunteer committee was key to the overwhelming success of our festival this year.

“A heartfelt thanks goes out to our sponsors, participants, entertainers, arts and crafts vendors. And to the strong partnership between our presenters — the Little Tokyo Public Safety Association, the Nanka Kenjinkai and the Nisei Week Japanese Festival — is a strong one.”

Judging this year was based on appropriateness to the theme, creativity and craftsmanship. Judges represented a range of organizations, including Aurora Foundation, California Association of Japanese Language Schools, Chado Omotesenke Domonkai, Love to Nippon, Nanka Sibu, Go For Broke Foundation, Japanese American Cultural & Community Center, Japanese American National Museum, Japan America Society, Japanese Chamber of Commerce, The Japan Foundation, Kado Kyodo Kai, Little Tokyo Public Safety Association, Nanka Kenjinkai Kyogikai, Nisei Week Foundation, Orange County Japanese Association, and UCLA Asian Studies Program.

Over 165 kazari created by members of the greater Los Angeles community were judged in six categories: businesses; families and individuals; kenjinkai groups; government; nonprofit organizations, including schools, churches and temples; and manga/anime. 

This year a People’s Choice Award was introduced with an overwhelming response — 1,450 ballots were cast by members of the audience during the festivities on Aug. 10.  The winner was the Tochigi Kenjinkai, led by Yoshie Sato. The kazari was based on Tochigi Prefecture’s mascot _____

The Founders Award is selected from among the first-place winners of the six categories. This year Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina (government category) captured the top award with a gorgeous peacock complete with feathered wings and “dreams” messages from children attached to the flowing streamers.

The other first-place winners:

Anime/manga — L.A. Gedatsu Church, whose kazari had a “Sailor Moon” theme. 

Business — ANA (All Nippon Airways), whose kazari featured a miniature airplane.

Families/individuals — Fugetsu-Do “family” of employees. Koko Kawabe created a fabulous kazari with elaborate decorated Fugetsu-Do logos along with wishes and congratulations from the employees acknowledging the 110th anniversary of the oldest shop in Little Tokyo.

Nonprofits — The Japanese Community Pioneer Center Photo Class, whose kazari featured a replica of a camera.

The winners received a custom-made plaque from Creations by June of Hawaii and a cash prize along with bragging rights for the year.

Ten seven-foot kazari that won medals at the 2013 Sendai Tanabata Festival were also on display.

To view photo highlights or video, visit

Complete Results

First Annual People’s Choice Award: Tochigi Kenjinkai/Yoshie Sato

Founders Award: Supervisor Gloria Molina


First Place: Fugetsu-Do family — Jose, Jesus Amilcar, Steven, Emiko, Eric, Makoto, Moizo, Koko, Akita, and Shun

Second Place:Yonezawa grandchildren — Y. Junko Yoshizawa

Third Place: Sawayaka Mama Yukai — Mariko Tamai

Fourth Place: Ishimine/Inafuku — Colleen Hayashi

Fifth Place: Poppy Kwong


First Place: L.A. Gedatsu Church — Jo Ann Shiroishi

Second Place:America Miyazaki Kenjinkai — George Mori

Third Place: Japanese Community Pioneer Center — Mack Miyazaki

Fourth Place: LA. Gedatsu Church — JoAnn Shiroishi

Fifth Place: Sawayaka Mama Yukai — Mariko Tamai


First Place: Tochigi Kenjinkai — Yoshie Sato

Second Place: Ehime Kenjinkai — Nancy Kikuchi

Third Place: Nanka Shiga Club — Janice Teramura

Fourth Place: Nanka Yamaguchi Kenjinkai — Richard Fukuhara

Fifth Place: Hiroshima Kenjinkai —Tagami Igawa


First Place: Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina

Second Place: LAPD Operations, West Bureau — Deputy Chief Terry Hara

Third Place: Rancho Park Public Libraries, Los Angeles — Beth Rubin

Fourth Place: Los Angeles City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell — David Cano

Fifth Place: Los Angeles City Councilmember Jose Huizar — Tanner Blackman


First Place: All Nippon Airways

Second Place: Jhills — Koko Kawabe

Third Place: Fugetsu-Do — Tomoko Kito

Fourth Place: UTB Hollywood — Tamie Akimoto

Fifth Place: Fugetsu–Do — Tomoko Kito


First Place: Japanese Community Pioneer Center Photo Class

Second Place: Kyodo System Chuo Gakuen — Masami Tanaka

Third Place: The Japan Foundation — Tomoko Libertus

Fourth Place: 2012 Nisei Week Court — Atsuko Fisher

Fifth Place: Teramachi — Patty Nagano

Front row: Community kazari by Little Tokyo Public Safety Association/Y. Junko Yonezawa. Back row: Five gold medal winners from the Sendai Tanabata Festival by Shiromatsu Ga Monaka employees. (Photo by Shun Kawabe/

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