The Nisei Week Foundation proudly hosts its 81st summer event with free cultural activities for all ages.
As part of its first weekend of events, the Nisei Week Japanese Festival features the Grand Parade, which will make its way through the streets of Little Tokyo on Sunday, Aug. 13, starting at 4 p.m. The parade will be led by Grand Marshal Bill Watanabe, community leader; Parade Marshal Jamie Hagiya, former USC basketball player and CrossFit athlete.
The procession will start at Central Avenue and head west on 2nd Street, turning north on San Pedro Street, turning east on 1st Street, then turning south and ending on Central Avenue.
The Grand Parade will feature traditional taiko drum performers, local community groups, high schools, elected officials and representatives, and the newly crowned 2023 Nisei Week queen and court.
Also making an appearance will be the L.A. Nebuta float, an intricate paper float with origins traced to the annual summer Aomori Nebuta Festival in Japan.
The official choreographer of the festival dances will be Bandō Hirohichirō, who will make history as the first male official choreographer of the Nisei Week Japanese Festival.
The two marshals will be honored at the Nisei Week Awards Dinner on Monday, Aug. 14. For more information, visit niseiweek.org.
About Bill Watanabe
In 1980, Bill became the founding executive director of the Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC) in Downtown Los Angeles. For 32 years, he guided its growth, in conjunction with the Board of Directors, from a one-person staff to a multi-faceted social services and community development program with over 100 paid staff, many of whom are bilingual in any of eight Asian Pacific languages and Spanish.
LTSC has become a major player in the preservation of Little Tokyo through its development of affordable housing at Casa Heiwa, the San Pedro Firm Building, the Far East building, and the Daimaru Hotel.
LTSC is also the major developer of the Union Center for Arts, which brought the cultural arts of East West Players, Visual Communications, and LA Artcore to Little Tokyo.
Bill is currently the president of a new project called the Little Tokyo Community Impact Fund, a community-based real estate investment fund aimed to help heritage small businesses in Little Tokyo and the Nikkei community.
About Jamie Hagiya
Jamie Hagiya is a former point guard on the women’s basketball team for the University of Southern California. She was a two-time team captain and helped lead her team to two NCAA Tournament appearances.
After retiring from basketball, she found success in CrossFit, where she is a six-time regional and two-time CrossFit Games athlete. Currently she owns a CrossFit gym, Torrance Training Lab, with her sister, Lexie Hagiya.
Besides coaching and managing her business, she is also running basketball camps and clinics for youth and working in broadcast with CrossFit, Inc. as a desk host, analyst and sideline reporter.
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 www.NiseiWeek.org, call the Nisei Week Foundation office at (213) 687-7193 or email email@example.com. The Nisei Week office is located at 244 S. San Pedro St., Suite 303, Los Angeles, CA 90012.