The Nisei Week Japanese Festival features a Grand Parade as part of its first weekend of events, which will make its way through the streets of Little Tokyo on Sunday, Aug. 12, starting at 4 p.m.
The parade marshal will be Aaron Takahashi, comedic actor and long-time volunteer.
The procession will start at Central Avenue and head west on Second Street, turning north on San Pedro Street, turning east on First Street, then turning south and ending on Central.
The parade will feature traditional Japanese taiko drum performers, local community groups, high schools, elected officials and representatives from Nagoya (Los Angeles’ sister city), and the newly crowned 2018 Nisei Week Queen and court.
Aaron Takahashi is a former instructor, writer, core performing member, and current board member of Cold Tofu, the nation’s first Asian American improv and sketch comedy troupe. He was a main company member at ACME Comedy Theatre in Hollywood for sketch and improv, and has appeared on stage at several venues such as East West Players, GTC Burbank, and Fremont Centre Theatre.
Along with his multiple appearances as a featured player in comedic sketch segments on Conan O’Brien’s late-night shows, Takahashi has amassed numerous co-starring, guest-starring and recurring roles on popular shows for CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, Comedy Central, Netflix, TBS, and IFC, with perhaps his most notable credit being a recurring role on the award-winning USA Network series “Mr. Robot.”
Takahashi is featured as a supporting actor in comedy blockbusters such as “Yes Man” (2008) opposite Jim Carrey, “Welcome to the Jungle” (2013) opposite Jean-Claude Van Damme, and “The Wedding Ringer” (2015) opposite Kevin Hart. He also appears in the critically acclaimed Asian American crime drama “Better Luck Tomorrow” (2002), directed by Justin Lin.
However, Takahashi has arguably enjoyed the most success as a commercial actor, appearing in nearly 100 commercials, including multiple spots for Toyota, Dunkin’ Donuts, Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Snapple, State Farm, Esurance, and Ebates. He occasionally teaches a commercial audition techniques workshop in the Los Angeles area.
Takahashi was born and raised in Gardena and Torrance. He is an Eagle Scout and a graduate of USC. He is proud of his heritage as a Yonsei. His great-grandfather landed in San Francisco in 1896 and survived both the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and the Stock Market Crash of 1929. During World War II, Takahashi’s father’s family was incarcerated at the Tule Lake Segregation Center, and eventually Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming, while his mother’s family relocated to Salt Lake City, Utah, to live with a sympathetic sharecrop farmer.
Inspired by fellow Japanese American entertainers such as Tamlyn Tomita and Rodney Kageyama, who have always been generous with their time when it comes to the community, Takahashi has emceed, hosted, or made guest appearances at several events for Asian American organizations such as East West Players, Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, Project by Project, So-Phis, Asians for Miracle Marrow Matches, Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Southern California, The Asian Professional Exchange (APEX), Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment (CAPE), Kollaboration, Straight Outta Little Tokyo (benefiting the Terasaki Budokan), L.A. Chinatown Firecracker Run/Walk & Bike Ride, USC Asian Pacific Alumni Association, Asian Pacific Alumni of UCLA, My Wish List Foundation, Go For Broke National Education Center, and, of course, the Nisei Week Foundation.
Takahashi’s involvement with Nisei Week began in the early 1990s, when his fraternity sold teriyaki chicken at the Nisei Week Carnival. Since 2002, he has been involved with Nisei Week Coronation, either as a performer or backstage assistant. He was one of the first to bring life to Aki the Akita, Nisei Week’s official mascot, in its inaugural year, 2005. In 2007, Takahashi participated as a judge for the Nisei Week Baby Pageant. The following year, he assumed the duties of master of ceremonies, and he has emceed every Baby Show since. He has also served as emcee for the Nisei Week Hospitality Committee Luau and the Tanabata Festival, co-chaired the Karaoke Contest, and on numerous occasions been an announcer for the Grand Parade.
For more information on the parade and other festival events, visit www.niseiweek.org.