This year marks the 70th Annual Nisei Week Japanese Festival celebration with its Grand Parade as one of the main attractions to hit the streets of Little Tokyo, Sunday, August 15, starting at 5:30 p.m. The Nisei Week Foundation, organizer of this annual summer festival, is pleased to announce the 2010 Grand Marshal Bill Hideo Kikuchi, long-time community leader and Nisei Week Ondo organizer, and Parade Marshal, Mirai Nagasu, U.S. figure skating champion.
The parade route begins at Central Avenue traveling west on Second Street, north on Los Angeles Street, then east on First Street and completes its procession at Central Avenue. In addition to the marshals, various local community groups, high schools, elected officials and representatives from Nagoya, Japan, Los Angeles’ sister city, as well as the newly crowned 2010 Nisei Week Queen and Court and other visiting queen/court members will participate in the parade.
This year’s parade features Nebuta (smaller “kodomo” Nebuta floats made of paper and lights). The Kodomo Nebuta are being designed, created and paraded by local community organizations including the parents and students from the Los Angeles Unified School District. In addition, other participants in the parade include odori dancers and taiko drum performers.
“On behalf of the Nisei Week Foundation, it is an honor that we celebrate the 70th anniversary Nisei Week Festival with a respected community leader and long-time supporter of Nisei Week, Grand Marshal Hideo Kikuchi and an amazing internationally recognized figure skater and rising star, Parade Marshal Mirai Nagasu,” said Hayato Tamura, president of the Nisei Week Foundation. “This year’s Grand Parade attempts to bridge the generations as we honor the past and give hope to the future. We hope you will join us!”
Bill Hideo Kikuchi
Bill Hideo Kikuchi was born in Stockton. At the age of three, his family moved to Odawara City, in Kanagawa, Japan and returned to the U.S. after graduating from high school. In 1940, he attended Maryknoll School and transferred to Belmont High School in Los Angeles, but was soon taken to Manzanar Wartime Relocation Center in 1942.
In 1943, as a so-called “no-no boy,” he was transferred to Tule Lake Relocation Center. In May 1946, he was moved to Crystal City Relocation Center in Texas and in September 1947, he was forced to enter San Diego Immigration Center. After finally being released, he married Shizuka Naganuma in April 1948.
In 1951, he bought and ran two markets in Los Angeles and raised their children, Steve, Elsie and Joseph. Today he is blessed with five grandchildren.
In the 1950s and 60s, when there were no professional Japanese performers or artists, Kikuchi spread the value of Japanese culture and language in many ways: ventriloquism, stand-up comedy, skits and short plays. Over the past 40 years, he served as emcee for countless occasions, including honorably emceeing the Golden Anniversary Royal Dinner of the Japanese Emperor and Empress at the Biltmore Hotel in 1974. He also started a musical band, playing saxophone and clarinet.
Kikuchi has served as president of the Nagauta Kensho-kai, a form of Japanese classical music group, since January 1969. He has lead the Nisei Week Japanese Festival Ondo Committee since 1971, supporting harmony among the dance teachers and coordinating the ondo practices for the Nisei Week Grand Parade and Ondo/Closing Ceremony.
He is also a member of the Taisho Club and was the entertainment-bu president for three years, bowling-bu president for five years, karaoke-bu president for more than 20 years and served as president in 1978. That same year, he also became vice president of the Beikoku-Hyakudo-Kai and the Los Angeles manager of the Japan Popular Music Cultural Association based in Tokyo. In August 1987, he started the Beikoku Karaoke Kohaku-Utagassen.
Since 1985 Kikuchi has produced the annual Zenshuji carnival. He also helped organize and served two presidential terms of the Nanka Minyo Kyokai. In 1992 he established the Southern California Karaoke League, consisting of 18 groups and more than 700 members, and served as president until 2007.
In July 1991, he received a letter of appreciation from the headmaster RetsukoTakehana of Japan and master Retsuchie Takehana for his great contribution to the Minyo-Takehana-Ryu Performances. He also received a special letter of appreciation from the Southern California Japanese Chamber of Commerce for his devotion in spreading Japanese culture and promotion of friendship among the community. In October 1997 he was officially commended for his meritorious services from the Japan Popular Music Cultural Association, and in August 2000 he received the Pioneer Award from the Nisei Week Foundation.
Mirai Nagasu is one of the most prominent names in figure skating in the United States. Born in 1993 in Montebello, and raised in Arcadia, Nagasu is the daughter of Japanese immigrants who own
a sushi restaurant in their hometown of Arcadia. Nagasu herself is a dual citizen of both the United States and Japan.
Nagasu is the 2007 U.S. National Junior Ladies Champion, 2007-2008 ISU Junior Grand Prix Final Champion and two-time ISU World Junior Championships medalist. In 2008 Nagasu won the U.S National Championships. Her win made her the youngest champion in eleven years and the second youngest in history. Her National title also made her the first lady to win the U.S. Junior title and Senior title in consecutive years since 1938.
Nagasu just completed a stellar season; she was the silver medalist at the U.S National Championships that earned her a spot on the 2010 Winter Olympic team. At the Vancouver Olympic games Nagasu placed fourth, making her the highest U.S. finisher in the ladies event. Nagasu followed the Olympics by finishing seventh at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships in March, again being the highest U.S. finisher in the ladies event.