Patty and Steve Nagano, along with Bill Watanabe are this year’s Inspiration Award honorees.

By MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS, Rafu Shimpo

It seems like years since we last gathered on the streets of Little Tokyo, to celebrate community and all we share, face-to-face and in the spirit of friendship.

As a matter of fact, it has been years – three to be precise.

When the Nisei Week Grand Parade kicked off on Aug. 14, meandering through the streets of Japantown, a joyous sentiment quickly took hold. We were back, in person, as a community, gathered to remember the gifts of being together and all the priceless moments Nisei Week has given us over the decades.

Among those joining the dancing was actress and former Nisei Week Queen Tamlyn Tomita.

The smiles were genuine, the songs were buoyant. The elation of guests, dignitaries and ordinary folk reflected precisely the reasons Nisei Week has endured all these years.

The Nisei Week Marching Band donned mouse ears for the happy occasion.

The World War II-era song “We’ll Meet Again” has long been a heartfelt expression of hope in trying times. The Rafu ran the title as a bold headline in its last issue before being forced to shut down due to the mass internment of Japanese Americans on West Coast.

Members of Rafu Mutsumi-kai carry the traditional mikoshi, or portable shrine, in homage to the prosperity and good health of the community.

While we’re still dealing with the known and yet-to-be-known effects of this cruel pandemic, Sunday’s parade brought far more than an excuse to head out into the neighborhood. It gave us joy and it gave us hope.

Grand Parade Marshals Siblings Alex and Maia Shibutani.

Let’s meet again.

Photos by JUN NAGATA.

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