Front row, from left: Miyako Tachibana, Ann Burroughs, Wendy Shiba, Mami Sone (Consul General Kenko Sone’s wife), Darlene Kuba, Yuko Kaifu, Kitty Sankey, Patricia Wyatt. Back row, from left: Helen Ota, Ann Abe, Joyce Chinn, Beverly Ito, Joanne Kumamoto, Atsuko Kanai, Margaret Narumi, Kazuo Kitagaito, Marie Tanaka, Sachiko Okazoe.

On July 7, members of the Japanese American community in Little Tokyo participated in a luncheon to welcome Mami Sone to Los Angeles. 

Mrs. Sone recently arrived in Los Angeles to join and support her husband, Consul General Kenko Sone, in his Southern California posting. The two are strongly committed to strengthening ties with the Japanese business and Japanese American communities both in Los Angeles and other areas in Southern California. 

The luncheon was hosted by Darlene Kuba and Bill Fujioka. 

Sone shared a little bit about her background and her impressions of the JA community, including the upcoming Nisei Week Festival:


I was born and raised in Ise City, Mie Prefecture, Japan. Among many of our family traditions, New Year’s celebrations were the most important holiday for our family. Of my family members, I worked the hardest to prepare for New Year’s. 

We lived in a traditional old house with sliding shoji doors with tatami mats. In preparation for the New Year’s celebration, I was responsible for changing out the shoji rice-paper coverings on our sliding doors for the new year. This required me to remove the old paper, clean and wash the frame and reapply the new shoji paper.  

Next, I had to clean the tatami mats, the common areas, the storage room, and finally my own room.  

Lastly, I assisted in cooking osechi ryori (special New Year’s dishes). My New Year’s memories are of hard work, cleaning, and cooking as well as receiving an **otoshidama** (an envelope containing money given to children on New Year’s Day).

During my 7th to 12th grade, middle to high school years, I attended a private Catholic girls’ school. In the 9th grade, I had an opportunity to visit and stay with my friend’s family in Hawaii for a month. It piqued my interest and wanting to learn about other cultures. This motivated me to apply for studying abroad as an exchange student. I ended up at Carey High School in Ohio.  

I graduated with a bachelor of arts degree from Tsuda College and my first job was working for Sapporo Breweries. I met and married my husband, Kenko Sone, and later joined him in Connecticut. Since then, I have lived in Washington, D.C., Geneva, and now Los Angeles.

Mami Sone (center) is joined by (from left) Wendy Shiba, Darlene Kuba, Yukio Kaifu and Ann Burroughs.

Upon returning back to Japan, I started teaching English at public middle schools in Tokyo. Somehow, I was able to maintain my profession as a teacher, through maternity leave and even with my husband’s career. 

In college, I was an American studies major. At that time, I was not aware of the injustices, discrimination and racism faced by the Issei and Nisei in America. I was emotionally moved at the celebration of life of Madame Fujima Kansuma. After hearing about Madame Kansuma’s difficult experiences, the history that I knew became more than just a page in the history book. 

Now, when I go to places and meet different people, it gives me an opportunity to learn and accumulate many stories about what Japanese and Japanese Americans endured. I feel fortunate to be part of this tight-knit Japanese community that is friendly, supportive and passionate.  

I’m very much looking forward to the Nisei Week Japanese Festival. I’m planning to participate in the ikebana exhibition, Women’s Society bazaar, tea ceremony, and other events during the celebration. I am prepared to wear sunscreen for my participation in the Grand Parade. I’m looking forward to meeting everyone!

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