Alyson Miura has been one of USC’s best three-point shooters the past two seasons.

GARDENA — The Nikkei Basketball Heritage Association (NBHA) will bring together California State University, Fullerton women’s basketball head coach Jeff Harada, USC senior guard Alyson Miura and Terasaki Budokan staff member Kim Kawasaki for a panel discussion on “Building Perseverance: How Basketball Teaches Nikkei Cultural Values” on Saturday, April 15, at the Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute, 1964 W. 162nd St., Gardena.

In each case, the three panelists have faced challenges, but their perseverance enabled them to succeed.

Harada has taken over coaching positions over basketball programs that had no recent history of success and turned them around. When he was hired in 2017 at CSU Fullerton, the Titans had not had a winning record since 1991.

Jeff Harada

By 2020 under Coach Harada, the women’s basketball team produced a 17-14 record and won their first Big West Tournament game since 1996. Harada’s personal story is one of overcoming the bias of college administrators not believing that Japanese Americans and Asian Americans could be basketball head coaches.

Miura, who was an outstanding guard in high school at Clackamas High before moving to La Salle Catholic Preparatory in Oregon, played in 30 games for USC including three as a starter as a freshman. But because of a knee injury, she missed the beginning of her sophomore season and played in only nine games. Miura has been a rotation player in her final two years and has been one of USC’s best three-point shooters. But her playing time has varied depending on the opponent and game situations and she has had to learn to be ready to come off the bench at a moment’s notice.

Unfortunately, her knee has kept her from playing to conclude her senior year.

Kawasaki is the Terasaki Budokan’s programs and social media coordinator. When the sports and community facility was still in the process of fundraising, she worked as the community gifts campaign manager. The entire Budokan project from conception to completion took over 20 years, but the Little Tokyo Service Center and its staff and supporters persisted. Kawasaki herself grew up playing basketball in the Japanese American youth leagues before enrolling at Claremont McKenna College, where she played on the basketball team.

“While only Kim grew up participating in the Southern California Japanese American community basketball leagues, we at NBHA saw the connections to traditional Japanese cultural values that Coach Harada received in Hawaii and Alyson in Oregon from their families,” explained Jerry Nakafuji, president of NBHA. “Characteristics like perseverance apply to both basketball and Nikkei cultural values. Our panelists will explain how these qualities relate to their lives, on the court and off.”

NBHA, which was organized by leaders of several local Japanese American community basketball organizations to address issues concerning bad behavior by teams, inadequate coaching and a lack awareness of the community’s history, emphasizes the connections between organized basketball and traditional Japanese cultural values.

The organization believes that JA community basketball was a vehicle for the community elders to help transmit their values to the younger generations. But today’s participants and their families are unaware of this history and are disconnected from the original purpose of the basketball leagues.

NBHA has recruited Japanese American basketball coaches to develop a coaching curriculum to help parents and volunteers better understand how to guide children and teenagers with age-appropriate basketball instruction.

Thanks to a grant from the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program, NBHA also has been recording oral histories of Japanese American men and women basketball players, coaches and administrators, especially those who played before, during and after World War II.

For more information on NBHA, go to or contact Nakafuji at

Chris Komai, former sports editor for The Rafu Shimpo and a current board member for the Nisei Athletic Union, will moderate the panel discussion and provide a short overview of the history of Japanese American community basketball.

This program is free and open to the public. To RSVP, contact the Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute at (310) 324-6611 or email

Photos courtesy Nikkei Basketball Heritage Association

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