Kristin Fukushima and Don Tahara

The Nisei Week Foundation is pleased to honor three special individuals with the 2023 Nisei Week Inspiration Award, which recognizes individuals who exemplify the spirit of Nisei Week by going above and beyond to volunteer their time and/or service or whose contributions have promoted the Japanese and Japanese American community and/or culture.

Cathy Tanaka

This year, community leaders Don Tahara and Kristin Fukushima will receive this award at the Nisei Week Awards Dinner to be held Monday, Aug. 14, at the DoubleTree by Hilton, 120 S. Los Angeles St. in Little Tokyo, starting at 6 p.m. Individual tickets are $135 and tables of 10 are $1,350.

Also recognized at the Awards Dinner will be this year’s grand marshal, Bill Watanabe; parade marshal, CrossFit athlete and former USC basketball player Jamie Hagiya; Inspiration Award recipients Don Tahara and Kristin Fukushima; and President’s Award recipient Cathy Tanaka. For tickets or information, call the Nisei Week Foundation at (213) 687-7193 or email

About Don Tahara

Don Tahara is a restaurateur, chef, and caterer who has serviced the JA and Little Tokyo communities for many years.

He made it his goal to provide catering to the community since the early 1990s. He has supported the Japanese American National Museum, Little Tokyo Service Center, Terasaki Budokan, Visual Communications, East West Players, Asian American Drug Abuse Program, Japanese American Cultural & Communiy Center and Aratani Theatre, Go For Broke National Education Center, Nisei Week, and Keiro, among others.

He has catered a wide range of events, including family gatherings, weddings, award shows, professional and college sports, and memorial services at churches, temples and other locations throughout Southern California.

In 2004, Don signed a lease to build a restaurant at the site of the historic Far East Cafe. He put together an ownership team to create Far Bar with supporting community service an integral part of the mission statement. Far Bar is a Little Tokyo meeting place where the community dines and imbibes. It is the site of countless community meetings and celebrations.

He opened Sake Dojo in 2018 on 1st Street to celebrate sake and Japanese cuisine in the growing Little Tokyo district and to provide another community venue.

About Kristin Fukushima

Kristin Fukushima is the managing director of the Little Tokyo Community Council — the nonprofit community coalition of businesses, residents, nonprofits, and other vested stakeholders, dedicated to protect, promote, and preserve Little Tokyo. She previously served as the project manager for Sustainable Little Tokyo, and continues to help lead SLT in its mission to sustain Little Tokyo for future generations.

She has also worked for the Pacific Southwest District of the Japanese American Citizens League and the Intercollegiate Department of Asian American Studies at the Claremont Colleges, and is a co-founder of Kizuna, a Japanese American youth development and empowerment organization.

About Cathy Tanaka

Cathy served as the secretary and treasurer at Fukui Mortuary and became a licensed funeral director and pre-need counselor. She remained at Fukui Mortuary until her death in March 2023.

Cathy was dedicated to the community and was involved with several organizations, including the Military Intelligence Service Association of Southern California; the National Japanese American Veterans Council; the Go For Broke National Education Center; the Nisei Veterans Coordinating Council; and the Grateful Crane Ensemble.

The Nisei Week Japanese Festival is a nine-day event first held in 1934 and is recognized today as one of the longest-running ethnic festivals in the U.S. This event will take place in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo district from Aug. 12-20. For a calendar of events, visit, call the Nisei Week Foundation office at (213) 687-7193 or email The Nisei Week office is located at 244 S. San Pedro St., Suite 303, Los Angeles, CA 90012.

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