Kondo, Ohtani Lauded at Japan America Society Gala

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Shohei Ohtani and Marie Kondo receive applause after being presented with awards during a gala dinner held July 11 by the Japan America Society of Southern California. The event, held at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, was attended by more than 500 guests. (MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS/Rafu Shimpo)

ANAHEIM — Arguably the two big­gest Japanese celebrities in the world were the stars of the night on July 11 for the Japan America Society of South­ern California’s annual fundraising dinner and gala.

Decluttering expert and best-selling author Marie Kondo, along with and Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani, were honored for enhancing Japan-U.S. relations at the event, held at Angel Stadium.

Kondo, who currently stars in her own reality show on Netflix, opened her remarks by referencing one of her own signature catch phrases.

“Is your house tidy?” she asked, to the delight of the 550 guests at the black-tie event.

“Through my mission to organize the world, I am very happy to contrib­ute to my home country of Japan – to help people around the world under­stand what Japanese people are like and learn more about Japan,” said Kondo, who has lived in the United States for three years.

After receiving her award, Kondo made apt use of her expression that is becoming a global expression of accomplishment.

“Thank you for this award – it has sparked so much joy,” she said.

In introducing Ohtani, emcee Frank Buckley made note of how perhaps more than any other person, the star pitcher-slugger is driving tourism from Japan to Southern California.

Last year’s American League Baseball Rookie of the Year, Ohtani will not pitch this season due to off-season elbow surgery. He said, “The second half of the Major League Baseball season begins tomorrow, and I hope to have better results than last year, so I appreciate everyone’s support.”

The gala was an opportunity to raise money for educational pro­grams for students from low-income families, and to promote membership in the organization.

The International Citizens Award, bestowed every year on an individual or organization that enhances the re­lationship between the two countries, has previously been presented to in­ternational figures such as Australian novelist James Clavell and Grammy-winning recording artist Kitaro.

The nonprofit organization, which hosted the fundraiser in honor of its 110th anniversary, is a membership organization that builds business and cultural relationships between Japanese and Americans.

Kondo, whose eight-episode Net­flix series “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” inspired a new wave of so-called KonMari followers to share their decluttering efforts on social media after the show’s Jan. 1 debut. She has published the internation­ally translated best-seller “The Life- Changing Magic of Tidying Up.”

In 2015, Time Magazine named Kondo among the world’s top 100 influential figures.

–Rafu staff and wire service reports

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