Six candidates will compete for the title of Nisei Week Queen on Saturday, Aug. 10, at 7 p.m. at the coronation ball at the Aratani Japan America Theatre in Little Tokyo.

Upon official coronation, the queen and her court will represent the Nisei Week Foundation at this year’s festival and other community events locally and nationally (including Nagoya, L.A.’s sister city in Japan) throughout the year.

The dinner prior to the coronation ball will be at the DoubleTree by Hilton LA Downtown (formerly known as the Kyoto Grand Hotel & Gardens), with cocktails being served at 4:30 p.m. and dinner at 5 p.m. Nisei Week Queen Coronation tickets are available at the Golden Circle level, which includes dinner and preferred seating at the coronation, for $170 per person; general admission tickets are $80 per person.

Following are profiles of the candidates:

Stephanie Megumi Fukunaga (West Los Angeles JACL & Venice Japanese Community Center)

Stephanie Megumi Fukunaga is 22 years old and recently graduated from UC Riverside with a bachelor’s degree in biology. She volunteers at Kaiser Permanente with the intent to pursue a career as a physical therapist. In her spare time, Fukunaga enjoys trying new recipes, scrapbooking, running, and advancing her yoga abilities. This year Fukunaga will support Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a nonprofit that raises awareness to find a cure for breast cancer.

Laura Akemi Higashi (Orange County Nikkei Coordinating Council)

Laura Akemi Higashi is 23 years old and received her bachelor’s degree from UC Irvine as a double major in psychology and social behavior and criminology, law and society. She is currently obtaining a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Southern California. Her hobbies include snowboarding, taking amateur photos of her adventures, and traveling to new places. This year Higashi will support the Orange County Ronald McDonald House as her platform.

Ashley Mieko Honma (Pasadena Japanese Cultural Institute)

Ashley Mieko Honma is 24 years old and graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in Japanese. She works part-time at BLC America and Green Energy Lighting Corporation as an administrative assistant. In her free time, Honma enjoys playing basketball, unwinding with good books and fashion magazines, attending R&B and indie music concerts, and traveling to new places. This year Honma will support Dec My Room Los Angeles as her platform.

Lauren Naomi Iwata (Gardena Evening Optimist Club)

Lauren Naomi Iwata is 25 years old and graduated from CSU Long Beach with a bachelor’s degree in human development. She recently received her master’s degree in gerontology from the University of Southern California and is interning at Keiro Senior HealthCare to promote healthy aging among the Japanese American community. In her free time, she enjoys sightseeing, running half-marathons, playing basketball, and building little
cityscapes out of Lego. This year Iwata will support the Alzheimer’s Association as her platform.

Jamie Tomiko Teragawa (East San Gabriel Valley Japanese Community Center)

Jamie Tomiko Teragawa is 24 years old and attends CSU Los Angeles, where she is completing a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences to pursue a career in the medical field. In her spare time, Teragawa loves going to Disneyland, hiking, and watching live basketball games, especially so she can cheer against the Lakers. This year Teragawa will support the City of Hope as her platform.

Megumi Yuhara (Japanese Restaurant Association of America)

Megumi Yuhara is 23 years old and graduated from CSU Long Beach with a bachelor’s degree in music. She currently works as an administrative assistant for TriCom Quest, a professional recruitment agency, located in Gardena. Her hobbies include baking, creating music, reading about neurology, and wearing kimono. This year Yuhara will support the National Association for Music Education as her platform.

The coronation event is set to be an evening filled with laughs and entertainment, with actress Tamlyn Tomita and ABC Eyewitness News anchor David Ono serving as co-hosts. The evening’s special entertainment will be Asian American comedy improvisation and sketch group Cold Tofu.

For coronation and dinner tickets, contact Gerald Fukui at (213) 626-0441 or


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