From left: Nisei Week Queen Kristine Yada; honorees Keith Terasaki of Terasaki Family Foundation, JACCC Artist in Residence Hirokazu Kosaka and Bill Imada of IW Group; JACCC President and CEO Pat Wyatt at the JACCC gala on June 22.

By ELLEN ENDO, Rafu Shimpo

On an uncharacteristically chilly summer evening, the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center paid tribute on June 22 to the visionaries who have championed the center’s work over the years.

Marketing and communications firm IW Group, Terasaki Family Foundation, and JACCC’s artist in residence Hirokazu Kosaka were recognized for their enduring support of the center’s core mission: preserving Japanese arts and culture.

Taki Nakatani (left), House of Suntory marketing brand manager, and Bill Imada lead the gathering in a toast.

In accepting the President’s Award from Kathryn Doi Todd, retired associate justice of the California Second District Court of Appeal, Kosaka reminisced about the day he was hired by Miles Kubo 40 years ago.  “I have since then been fortunate to meet many artists and friends who guided me and inspired (me) to create.”

“I also have been inspired by the fearless, resilient Issei poets who came before us whose writing we are now translating and archiving,” he added.

During his tenure, Kosaka has been able to forge relationships with the arts community. He met with the late sculptor Isamu Noguchi, who designed the plaza that connects the JACCC building to the Aratani Theatre. His curated exhibits have brought a wide range of disciplines to the center, from calligraphy to bamboo baskets to annual kotohajime (“the beginning of things”) hailing the arrival of the new year.

Born in Wakayama, Kosaka came to the U.S. when he was 10 years old, accompanied by his little brother, who was six at the time.

Past Chairman’s Award recipient George Sugimoto acknowledges birthday greetings from the audience.

Bill Imada, co-founder and chief connectivity officer for the IW Group, accepted the Chairman’s Award on behalf of the firm that led the way in multi-cultural marketing. Imada congratulated JACCC “for all the work it is doing in promoting Japanese food and art through its Rising Chef Series.”

Keith Terasaki represented the Terasaki Family Foundation, which was founded by his late father, Dr. Paul Terasaki, well known for his breakthrough discoveries that made organ transplants possible.

An “In Memoriam” video presentation became a touching reminder of the prominent friends of JACCC who passed away in the past year. Those shown included:

Beauty consultant Yae Aihara, Japanese dance icon Mme. Fujima Kansuma, former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta, agriculturalist Tomio Ito, artist Nobuhiko Yamabe, art collector Joe Price, and businessman Frank Kawana.

Photos by JUN NAGATA/Rafu Shmpo

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