By MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS, Rafu Staff Writer
After a year lost to the pandemic, the Nisei Week Coronation returned Saturday, with a new queen chosen to lead the 2021 royal court.
Jaime Sunny Hasama was selected from the six candidates to wear the crown for the next year, during a ceremony that was live-streamed from the Aratani Theatre in Little Tokyo. The 24-year-old is the founder and CEO of a marketing firm that assists nonprofit organizations in fulfilling their missions.
A graduate with a degree in biology from Macalester College in Minnesota, Hasama was sponsored in the Nisei Week coronation by the Venice Japanese Community Center as well as the Venice-West Los Angeles JACL.
“This means everything to me,” Hasama said shortly after donning the crown . “We have all been working really hard to improve and prepare for this day.”
Hasama and the newly assembled court will represent the Japanese American community at a slew of events and functions through the year, whether in person or online.
“There are tons of virtual events happening right now, so if you’re not ready to go out right now, not ready to do that yet, please join online,” she said. “Once in-person events open up, it’ll be awesome.”
The crowning moment was bittersweet for Hasama, due to the absence of her father, John, who passed away in October 2019.
“He was my biggest fan,” she said. “He was a huge inspiration for me, and why I decided to run for Nisei Week. For him and my grandparents, who also passed in 2019, this feels like an opportunity for me to make them, myself and our community proud.”
Hasama’s mother, Dussanee, was beaming with pride at her daughter’s newfound celebrity.
“She’s such a go-getter, even as a little kid. I sure her grandparents and dad would be so proud right now.”
The 2021 First Princess is Brianne Mari Yasukochi, 25, from the Pasadena Japanese Cultural Institute, while 23-year-old Kiyomi Arimitsu Takemoto of the East San Gabriel Valley Japanese Community Center was named Miss Tomodachi.
Also on the court are Princess Michelle Toshiko Murakami (Japanese Restaurant Association of America), Princess Kiyoko Alicia Nakatsui (Gardena Evening Optimist), and Princess Kendra Alana Motoyasu (San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center).