RS10 participants strike a pose after a job well done. Standing, from left: Sam Watanabe, Justin Tsujii, Jonathan Sato, Eryn Krouse, Kimi Nelson, Erina Niwa, Grant Nakaoka, Akira Nagao, Ryuta Shimoda. Sitting, from left:  Kali Moore, Nichole Hamamoto, Deanna Tanaka, Kara Tanaka. Not pictured: Bailey Hagino, Nicholas Hamamoto, Melanie Mikami, Wesley Shiozaki, Nick Yamamoto.


The 10th annual Rising Stars Miniature Golf Tournament sponsored by the Rising Stars Youth Leadership Program proved to be truly a family affair. Held on Saturday, March 2, at Camelot Golfland in Anaheim, the fundraiser was organized and run by the current participants of the Rising Stars Program, a high school leadership training and cultural education program of the Nikkei Federation.

The Rising Stars (RS10) participants put in a lot of time, energy, and effort to make the Miniature Golf Tournament a success. On the day of the tournament, everyone worked really hard, doing such things as signing people in, running the raffle, and filling goodie bags.

The nice warm day started off with the RS10 participants showing up early in the morning to set up and prepare for the 87 golfers who attended that day. The tournament was a full 18 holes and each group had a shotgun start, in which everyone starts off on a different hole and then plays the full 18-hole course. 

After a fun day on the course, the golfers and their families enjoyed a nice lunch of pizza, salad and soda. Once lunch was over the RS10 group started the raffle and gave away many great prizes.

Committee members prep before the golf tournament begins. Seated, from left: Eryn Krouse, Erina Niwa, Nick Yamamoto. Standing, from left: Jonathan Sato, Grant Nakaoka, Bailey Hagino, (unidentified friend in black T-shirt), Grant Nakaoka.

Family members of current Rising Stars students took five of the top six places at the tournament, and the Yamamoto family captured three of the six places. In the adult division, fathers of Rising Stars participants Kali Moore, Nick Yamamoto and Justin Tsujii topped the field. 

The first-place winner was Bill Moore, second was Glenn Yamamoto, and third was Ryan Tsujii, who commented, “The tournament was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed playing in it.” 

The Yamamoto family dominated the kids division when Nick’s sisters, Jordan and Amanda, placed first and second, respectively. Third place was captured by Cole Kanegawa, 12-year-old brother of Alex Kanegawa, a 2010-11 Rising Stars participant.

The top raffle prize, an iPad 2, was won by Rachel Jacobsma, a 2004-05 Rising Stars participant. She excitedly exclaimed, “It’s so fun to volunteer at the golf tournament as a Rising Star alumni every year and support the work Rising Stars is doing! I always look forward to the raffle at the end, but I’ve never won a prize before.”

She concluded, “So when they called my name for the iPad, I was completely shocked! I love Apple, so it was a great prize for me!”

Ron Dyo, Rising Stars Planning Committee chair, provided prizes for the Golfers-only Raffle. The coveted top prize, a dinner for six prepared by master chef Dyo at his home, was won by Akikazu and Rei Abe. Their son, Samuel, is a member of the 2012-13 Rising Stars program and a member of the Publicity Committee. 

Six half-flats of fresh strawberries from Manassero Produce were awarded, and Cody “Hawk” Kuwata, a Rising Stars 2011-12 participant, was among the lucky winners.

Thanks to the support of family, friends, the Rising Stars Planning Committee, and others from the Japanese American community, 18 students successfully raised close to $20,000, enough to keep the program going for another year.

Applications for the 2013-14 Rising Stars Youth Leadership Program are available online with a deadline of Saturday, Aug. 31. For an application or for more information, go to the website at or contact Glenn Nakatani at (626) 951-5388 or

Justin Tsujii, a senior at Mark Keppel High School in Alhambra, is a 2012-13 Rising Stars Youth Leadership Program participant and was on the Publicity Committee.

Cole Kanegai hits a shot that won third place.
Alumnus Michael Taheri (right) of Rising Stars 8 and friends support the fundraiser.
Seated, from left: Matthew Shiozaki, Erina Niwa and Eryn Krouse check in golfers.
Golfers enjoy pizza and salad.
From left: raffle winners Cody “Hawk” Kuwata (Rising Stars 9) and Rachel Jacobsma (Rising Stars 2); Ron Dyo, Rising Stars chairman, who provided the top prize for the golfers-only raffle, a dinner for six prepared by the master chef at his home; Rei and Akikazu Abe, golfers-only raffle winners and parents of  Sam Abe (Rising Stars 10).

Photos by Cyril Nishimoto

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