Rafu Staff Report

“Mom would have loved this,” said Ron Yamada of his mom, Em Kato Yamada (1952), as the Nisei Week Queens gathered once again for a reunion on Aug. 14 at the Japanese American National Museum.

The former queens held their first in-person gathering since 2019 and as they shared the experiences in their lives, many honored Yamada, who founded the reunion in 1984.

Seated, from left: Carol Kunitsugu Itatani (1965), Faith Higurashi Ono (1959), Helen Funai Erickson (1963), Stella Nakadate Matsuda (1955).

Second row: Ron Yamada, Emiko Yamada, Jaime Hasama (2021), Sandy Toshiyuki (1976), France Yanai Wong (1962), Joyce Kikuchi Sumi (1971), Tiffany Hattori (1998).

Third row: Tish Okabe Kato (1985), Dianne Kubota Hamano (1961), Nikki Kodama (2004), Naomi Ono Sognefest (1993), Jill Hiraizumi-Artino (2008).

Fourth row: Nicole Cherry (2003), Joann Shin Cordeiro (1996), Steffanie Tamehiro Takahashi (2005), Lauren Iwata Hui (2013), Sara Hutter (2015), Jaclyn Tomita (2016).

Fifth row: Lauren Kinkade Wong (2001), Frances Shima Matsumoto (1981), Tracy Isawa Ahn (1983), Jamie Mizuhara Sakamoto (2002), Juli Yoshinaga (2019), Alice Amano (2018).

Top: 2022 Nisei Week Court – Amanda Hiraishi, Faith Nishimura, Miss Tomodachi Maile Yanguas, Queen Kristine Yada, 1st Princess Audrey Nakaoka, Lorie Meza.

Photo by MARIO GERSHOM REYES/Rafu Shimpo

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