Pioneer Spirit awardees (seated, from left) Ken Hayashi, Masao Morisaku, Mike Murase, Yoshio Nakamura, Heizaburo Okawa and Mario Gershom Reyes; (standing, from left) Deputy Consul General Naoshige Aoshima, Amanda Hiraishi, Faith Nishimura, Maile Yanguas Kristine Yada, Audrey Nakaoka, Lorie Meza, Emily Kumagai and Nancy Okubo. (JUN NAGATA/Rafu Shimpo)

Applications are now available for the Nisei Week Pioneer Spirit Award.

The award honors individuals who exemplify the Nisei Week mission, which is to promote Japanese and Japanese American heritage and traditions while bringing together the diverse communities of Southern California through arts and cultural education. 

Organizations are encouraged and invited to nominate candidates, who must have demonstrated a history of helping advance the Japanese American community, support and participate in various organizations, as well as demonstrate leadership skills. Age is not a criterion for selection.

“The Nisei Week Pioneer Spirit Award is a vital and important part of the Nisei Week Festival,” said Nolan Maehara, Nisei Week Pioneer Spirit chair. “It is an opportunity to recognize and honor individuals that have been active in the Japanese and Japanese community through their participation and support as well as their leadership.”

The Nisei Week Board will have a committee of readers to select the final three or four Pioneer Spirit awardees that will best represent the annual Nisei Week Festival. Organizations and their candidates will be notified via email.

Nominee applicants must submit a biography written in English between 500 and 650 words. There must be full sentences and paragraphs only and no resumes or bullet points. The nomination procedure and forms can be found online at

Application deadline is Sunday, April 29. Honorees will be informed on May 17. Completed applications can be sent to Nolan Maehara, 26 Via Malona, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275, or the Nisei Week Office at 244 S. San Pedro St. Suite 303, Los Angeles, CA 90012.

For more information, contact Maehara at or Joyce Chinn at

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