The Nisei Week Grand Parade will be led by the 2016 grand marshal, Kaori Nara Turner, Emmy Award-winning make-up artist and Japanese community leader, and parade marshal, Brittany Ishibashi, the actress who played Karai in the hit movie “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.”
This year marks the 76th annual Nisei Week Japanese Festival with the Grand Parade, part of its first weekend of events, making its way through the streets of Little Tokyo on Sunday, Aug. 14, starting at 4 p.m.
“The theme of this year’s Nisei Week Japanese Festival is ‘Celebrating Our Culture and Community,’ and is an extension of the 76 years the festival has been in existence,” said David Teragawa, Nisei Week Foundation president. “It’s amazing how we have been able to bring this cultural legacy to Little Tokyo and greater Los Angeles community year after year.
“We are honored to have Kaori Turner as our grand marshal as she has been integral in bridging the Japanese American and Japanese communities together. We are also grateful to have Brittany Ishibashi as our parade marshal as she represents the younger generation of Japanese Americans who we hope continue this legacy we share.”
Kaori Nara Turner
Kaori Nara was born in Tokyo in 1933. She learned Japanese dance from the age of 6 and tap dance at 7, and her talents were quickly recognized by many. She became a professional dancer when she was 14 years old and performed at many theaters both in Japan and abroad.
In 1966 she married Bill Turner, who was a well-known Hollywood makeup artist. She moved to the U.S., where she continued her career as a dancer. Forced to give up dancing because of a knee injury, she started a new career as a makeup artist like her husband.
In the industry she became known as “Miss Sunshine” and “Magic Hands” and became one of the most successful Japanese makeup artists in the American film and TV industry. In 2003 she won an Emmy Award for “Outstanding Makeup for a Series” for her work on the TV series “Alias.”
In addition, she has worked on numerous movies and TV shows, including: “Flashdance,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “Planet of the Apes,” “Ghostbusters,” “Kill Bill,” “The Last Samurai,” and “American Beauty.”
While pursuing her ambitions as a makeup artist, she also made extraordinary efforts to promote a better understanding of Japanese traditional arts and kimono among the Hollywood community. She achieved this by giving numerous lectures to American makeup artists. In October 2005, she hosted a magnificent kimono show in Hollywood, which served to introduce people in the film industry to the beauty of authentic Japanese kimono.
She was instrumental in helping Disneyland host its Japan Festivals in the 1970s and ’80s. These events featured Japanese dance, tea ceremony, flower arrangement, calligraphy, and Japanese cooking, offering a glimpse of Japanese culture to the thousands of tourists from all over the world who visited Disneyland.
In November 2006, Turner received the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays from the Japanese government for promoting Japanese culture and friendly relationship between Japan and the U.S.
Since 2007, she has been instrumental in coordinating bringing Aomori’s gigantic paper floats, Nebuta, to Los Angeles and the Nisei Week Grand Parade. She was also very involved in bringing the Nebuta to the 75th Anniversary Nisei Week Grand Parade. The Nebuta’s theme was “Yoshitsune Tsugaru Tokai” or warrior Yoshitsune’s endeavor to cross the rough whirlpool of Tsugaru Strait, which is somewhat indicative of Turner’s years of tireless efforts to bridge the two countries across the ocean.
Over the years, Turner has also been supportive of various Japanese American community organizations in Southern California, including local senior healthcare organizations and Japan’s nationwide charity drive, Ayumi-no-Hako.
Brittany Ishibashi can be seen co-starring as Karai in Paramount’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows,” a sequel to the summer 2014 blockbuster, which premiered nationwide on June 3. The film, which stars Megan Fox, Stephen Amell, Laura Linney, Tyler Perry, and Will Arnett, follows the turtles once again as they come into conflict with T.C.R.I. scientist Dr. Baxter Stockman, The Foot Clan, and the return of their enemy, The Shredder.
Ishibashi shines as Karai, a highly trained ninja assassin and the leader of the notorious Foot Clan, who is also Shredder’s right-hand woman who will stop at nothing to carry out his plan.
Born in Orange County, Ishibashi was raised in a home filled with the arts. Her father, a concert promoter and musician, and mother, a singer, saw their daughter’s love for performing and encouraged her to try her hand in many facets of the entertainment world. Ishibashi discovered her passion for musical theater at a young age, and went on to be a triple threat, excelling in dance, music, and acting.
She continued her formal education at UCLA’s prestigious School of Theatre, Film, and Television, while building her acting resume outside of class. Her first big break came right after she graduated from high school, being cast by J.J. Abrams on the Golden Globe Award-winning series “Felicity.”
Ishibashi has gone on to work consistently over the years with recurring and guest star roles on over three dozen TV series, including: “The Office,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “House M.D.” “The Mentalist,” “Emily Owens M.D.” “Bones,” “Castle,” “Major Crimes,” “Grace and Frankie,” “Young & Hungry,” and “Supernatural.”
After an exciting debut at Comic-Con, Ishibashi reprised her role as Maggie Zeddmore in the “Supernatural” spinoff “Ghostfacers,” which has developed a worldwide fan base.
Ishibashi might be best known, however, for her role as Anne Ogami on USA Network’s Golden Globe- and Emmy-nominated series “Political Animals.” She was a scene-stealer as the bright, beautiful interior designer whose distress is quietly mounting, as the pressures of life in a family of political animals begin to take their toll.
On the film and multimedia front, Ishibashi has worked on nearly two dozen projects, some of which were under the direction of Joan Scheckel, Robert Redford, and Danny DeVito. Aside from working in front of the camera, Ishibashi has a passion for producing innovative, engaging content. In 2015, she launched her production company, Mana Moments, which focuses on comedic, female driven content. When she’s not on set, Ishibashi can be found training in tae kwon do (she’s a black belt). She also loves to spend time with her family and lives in the Los Angeles area with her husband Jeff and their son Kai. Ishibashi’s family has always held a strong tie to the Japanese American community. Her grandmother, Mary Nomura, is notably remembered as the “Songbird of Manzanar” among the Nisei, performing as a teenager during their family’s internment at the Manzanar camp. Her grandmother, along with Ishibashi’s sister, Brianna, and mother, Lisa, sang at the Nisei Week Coronation in 2005.
Ishibashi also has family members (Kimberly Hayashi, Kristyn Hayashi, and Erin Nomura) who have represented the Southern California Japanese American community as part of the Nisei Week Queen and Court program.
Nisei Week is a nine-day event first held in 1934, and is recognized today as one of the longest-running ethnic festivals in the United States. This year’s event will take place in Little Tokyo from Aug. 13-21. For a calendar of events, visit www.NiseiWeek.org, call the Nisei Week Foundation office at (213) 687-7193, or email [email protected] The Nisei Week office is located at 244 S. San Pedro St., Suite 303, Los Angeles, CA 90012.