The 2016 Nisei Week Queen Candidates made their debut to the community on Sunday, at the Nisei Week Japanese Festival Opening Ceremony held at the Japanese American National Museum. From left (back row): Jaclyn Hidemi Tomita, Julia Kiyomi Tani, Megan Tomiko Ono, Shannon Aiko Rose Tsumaki. From left (front row): Heather Yoneko Iwata, April Leilani Nishinaka, and Kaya Minezaki. (Photos by JUN NAGATA/Rafu Shimpo)

By GWEN MURANAKA, Rafu English Editor-in-Chief

Nisei Week Foundation President David Teragawa kicked off the 76th Nisei Week Japanese Festival on Sunday with a nod to the hottest trend of 2016.

“JANM may be a Poke Stop but I am not Pikachu,” Teragawa said jokingly, referring to the mobile gaming app Pokemon Go.

Nisei Week Foundation President David Teragawa

Nisei Week will certainly be the hot topic in the Japanese American community as Little Tokyo gears up for the popular festival. The Nisei Week Grand Parade will take place on Sunday, Aug. 14. Other events include the Queen Coronation on Aug. 13, Pioneer Luncheon on Aug. 17, and Taiko Gathering at the JACCC Plaza on Aug. 21.

Teragawa, who grew up in Boyle Heights, said Japanese Americans are the products of two cultures and can pick and choose the best of both.

“The demographics of Little Tokyo have changed quite a bit. This is an opportunity to appreciate who we are. My advice is to cherish old traditions and make new ones,” he said.

At the Opening Ceremony, the seven candidates who will compete to become Nisei Week queen made their official debut in cerulean blue dresses designed by Tadashi.

The 2016 Nisei Week candidates are:

Heather Yoneko Iwata (East San Gabriel Japanese Community Center)

April Leilani Nishinaka (Gardena Evening Optimist)

Kaya Minezaki (Japanese Restaurant Association of America)

Megan Tomiko Ono (Orange County Nikkei Coordinating Council)

Julia Kiyomi Tani (Pasadena Japanese Cultural Institute)

Jaclyn Hidemi Tomita (San Fernando Valley Japanese Community Center)

Shannon Aiko Rose Tsumaki (West Los Angeles JACL and Venice Japanese Community Center)

Nisei Week Queen Sara Hutter was mistress of ceremonies. Rev. Al Tsuyuki performed a traditional Shinto purification ceremony.

Dancers perform “So-Ran Matsuri,” choreographed by Hanayagi Rokufukumi.

Nisei Week Choreographer Hanayagi Rokufukumi revealed the two dances that will be performed during the Nisei Week Grand Parade. She teaches the Hanayagi style of dance to students in L.A. and Orange counties.

Satoshi Okawa, president of the Japanese Business Association of Southern California, donated $5,000 to the Nisei Week Foundation. The ceremony was also sponsored by Japan House, which will open in Hollywood in summer 2017.

Acting Consul General Izuru Shimmura revealed that Akira Chiba, newly appointed consul general of Japan in Los Angeles, will arrive on July 25.

“Just in time for the Nisei Week festival,” Shimmura stated.

The next event on the Nisei Week calendar is the Baby Show, which takes place this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Centenary United Methodist Church, 300 S. Central Ave. in Little Tokyo. For more information, visit

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