Rose Toshiko Mikami celebrated her 100th birthday last month with friends from the Gardena Pioneer Project at Cherrystones Restaurant in Gardena. (GWEN MURANAKA/Rafu Shimpo)

By GWEN MURANAKA, Rafu Senior Editor

“I feel fine. I’m still here,” Rose Toshiko Mikami said, smiling, as she celebrated her 100th birthday with friends at a Gardena Pioneer Project luncheon held last month at Cherrystones.

Son Richard and daughter-in-law Jean give their mom a kiss on the cheek.

Mikami is the third generation in her family to reach the century mark, following both her mother Mineyo Uyeda and grandmother in Japan. Her mother was born in 1902 and lived to be 100 years old.

“That’s 300 years between the three of them,” son Richard said with pride.

At the restaurant, a photo display showed images from Mikami’s life. She was born on Dec. 2, 1921 in Wyoming. She met Henry Mikami and the couple married before they were incarcerated at Manzanar. Son Robert was born in Manzanar and the family moved later to Tule Lake, where Richard was born.

They moved back to Los Angeles after the war and Henry ran M&N Auto Parts in Compton.

Mikami was given a beautiful handmade money lei and was treated to birthday cake. She is a longtime resident of Gardena and a member of the Gardena Pioneer Project, a nonprofit group that addresses the needs of Japanese American seniors.

The gathering asked Mikami how she has been able to live such a long, healthy life.

“I don’t do anything, that’s why!” she said.

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