It’s been a number of years since Marion and I have attended a Nisei Week Parade. It was a little tough sitting in our beach chairs for so long, but seeing such a wide array of JA culture pass by was a joy.
NCRR had sponsored Rev. Paul Nagano and Florence as pioneers, and a reception in their honor was held at Teramachi prior to the start of the parade. Their son, Steve, and his wife, Patti, recently retired and moved into Teramachi so we were able to be guests in the reception room. The room was adjacent to a beautiful pool and garden area.
After touring the premises, Marion commented she wouldn’t mind living there — so convenient to everything in Little Tokyo. Before Paul’s address to the 50 or so people, the audience sang the hymn “Amazing Grace.” The final verse was added to reflect the lives of Paul and Florence:
Dear Paul and Florence, we are here
To tell you how much we care
Your years of service, we admire
Your faithful witness, bear
The corner of Second and San Pedro, I understand, NCRR ropes off each year for its members. The grand marshals were Tommy Lasorda of the Dodgers and Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga, long-time activist and author of the recent booklet “The Power of Words,” dealing with how the government has used words to affect our perception of our incarceration. Aiko is the mother-in-law of Assemblyman Warren Furutani.
We cheered as we saw our friend Emi Hino odori by — from the expression on her face, she seemed to be enjoying herself. Tamlyn Tomita glided by with her mother, Asako, dancing behind her. I remembered giving her a ride, along with my two daughters, en route to Granada Hills High in the Valley.
Paul and Florence were radiant as they, along with the other Nisei pioneers, waved to the crowd. We were happy to see the Nisei Week Queen and her court, as well as the royalty from other places such as Seattle and San Francisco.
Then there was Akemi Kikumura-Yano of JANM, who is Marion’s younger sister. Her car stopped briefly, and Marion was able to go to the car to greet her — she seemed surprised, but pleased to see us.
It was good to see the veterans of the Korean and Vietnam wars proudly marching by, along with the Boy Scout troops.
Martial arts were represented by a float with men and boys loudly slamming each other down on judo mats and a large group of young men and women demonstrating precise karate moves. Our community’s youthful obsession with basketball had a moving bank of basketball hoops with young people with basketballs inviting the crowd along the way to take shots. As they might say, “How cool was that?”
Unfortunately, as darkness approached, we started to get a bit weary and left before seeing the lighted floats. It was a long, but fun day. We were glad to have been there for the reception and the 2011 parade.
Phil Shigekuni can be reached by email. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.