The 71st Annual Nisei Week Japanese Festival – a summer-long series of cultural, artistic, athletic and aesthetic events – lined the streets of Little Tokyo on Sunday night for its annual parade running up and down the historic Downtown Los Angeles neighborhood. Like the Tournament of Roses and its Rose Parade, every year the Nisei Week Foundation selects a Grand Marshall and holds a competition for the Nisei Week Queen and Court. This year, Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga, one of the seminal figures in the Japanese American community’s fight for redress was honored as the Grand Marshall and a new group of young women took their place as the 2011 Nisei Week Court. They also rode on a float with THE Angeleno of Angelenos, former Dodger skipper, Tommy Lasorda.
With obon dancers, taiko drummers, Stan Sakai and other community leaders riding on top of classic cars and Ken Miyoshi leading a half dozen import cars, the most dramatic sight during this year’s parade had to be all the military jeeps and trucks navigating through Little Tokyo. The last time anyone of us could remember witnessing something similar was during the LA Riots when the streets around the old LAPD Headquarters at Parker Center were heavily protected just up the street from Little Tokyo. The only other time we could remember was following Executive Order 9066.
However, not to be missed this year was the inclusion of the Harajuku-Girl / Anime-Manga fan-base into the parade. The Ajuku Girls rode on a car like other community leaders, and the legion of Anime fans paraded in costume behind traditional Japanese dancers. If anything the Nisei Week Parade pieced together all the different slices of Japanese America in Los Angeles for a great evening of celebration.
84 photos below! All by Thomas Nakanishi.