2015 Nisei Week Queen & Court


2015 Nisei Week Court, from left to right: Princess Michelle Kaori Hanabusa, Princess Camryn Michiko Rie Sugita, 1st Princess Veronica Toyomi Ota, Queen Sara Kuniko Hutter, Miss Tomodachi Karen Nana Mizoguchi, Princess Kelsey Nakaji Kwong, Princess Tamara Mieko Teragawa.

All photos courtesy Toyo Miyatake Studios


Queen Sara Kuniko Hutter

Orange County Nikkei Coordinating Council

Birthplace: Los Alamitos, CA

Age: 22

Education: University of Southern California

Degree: Bachelor of Arts, cum laude

Major: Communication

Platform: National Psoriasis Foundation

Hobbies & activities: Playing basketball, traveling, hiking, watching movies, and trying new restaurants.

Professional / Career Goals: I hope to continue working in the public affairs or non-profit sector and find a career in which I’m able to help others and make a difference in the community.

What is your first recollection of Nisei Week? My first recollection of Nisei Week would be in 2009 when I attended the Golden Circle Dinner and Coronation with members of my family. I was able to meet members of the court and talk to others who were involved in events throughout the week.

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1st Princess Veronica Toyomi Ota

Pasadena Japanese Cultural Institute

Birthplace: Pasadena, CA

Age: 23

Education: Tufts University

Degree: Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude

Major: International Literary and Visual Studies

Platform: Reading is Fundamental

Hobbies & activities: Singing and playing guitar with my dad’s classic rock band, reading and writing haiku poetry, and meeting new people.

Professional / Career Goals: I plan to attend graduate school and obtain my master’s degree in education.  My dream is to someday create a curriculum that focuses on cultural diversity and compassionate activism.

What is your first recollection of Nisei WeekI remember my aunt would take my cousin and me to the Obon rehearsals near the JACCC when we were young. I loved watching the ladies around me and learning the dances from them. Everyone was so kind and welcoming, and it was always really fun to dance with my little cousin.

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Miss Tomodachi Karen Nana Mizoguchi

Japanese Restaurant Association of America

Birthplace: Los Angeles, CA

Age: 23 Education:

University of California, Irvine

Degree: Bachelor of Arts

Major: Art History

Platform: American Cancer Society

Hobbies & activities: Pilates, reading entertainment magazines, trying new restaurants, and volunteering as the president for the South East Los Angeles/North Orange County (SELANOCO) chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL).

Professional / Career Goals: To become a senior editor/reporter at a well-recognized multimedia publication.

What is your first recollection of Nisei Week? Since I was a child, I remember hearing about the impact Nisei Week had on my friend’s older siblings. I have attended only a few events and remember taking away great memories and friendships.

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Princess Michelle Kaori Hanabusa

West Los Angeles JACL & Venice Japanese Community Center

Birthplace: Los Angeles, CA

Age: 24

Education: University of Southern California

Degree: Bachelor of Arts, Renaissance Scholar

Major: Fine Arts

Minor: Advertising

Platform: Special World Olympic Games

Hobbies & activities: Weekly yoga practices, finding creative inspiration by reading blogs and listening to podcasts such as Design Sponge and Being Boss, traveling around the world, and volunteering as a coach and choreographer for the USC Ice Girls.

Professional / Career Goals: Become an art director in the entertainment and/or film industry and ultimately have my own creative online business.

What is your first recollection of Nisei Week? From a young age, my family and I have attended Nisei Week in support of my grandmother, who performed with her odori group in the parade. I remember waving frantically and calling out, “Grandma, Grandma!” to get her attention as she danced by us.  I could see the joy in her eyes as she tried to contain her smile.

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Princess Kelsey Nakaji Kwong

San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center

Birthplace: Burbank, CA

Age: 22

Education: Whittier College

Degree: Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude

Major: Chemistry Minors: Music and French

Platform: Wounded Warrior Project

Hobbies & activities: Singing opera, dancing hula, writing poetry, cheering for the Dodgers, collecting pillbox hats and other vintage clothing, and doing chemistry research.

Professional / Career Goals: I plan to pursue medical school.

What is your first recollection of Nisei Week? My most memorable experience of Nisei Week was winning the gold medal at the Nikkei Games 3-on-3 basketball tournament at the Long Beach Pyramid.

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Princess Camryn Michiko Rie Sugita

Evening Optimist Club of Gardena

Birthplace: Toda, Saitama, Japan

Age: 23

Education: American University

Degree: Bachelor of Arts

Major: International Studies Minor: International Business

Platform: Homeboy Industries

Hobbies & activities: Documenting my travels through photography, researching other countries and cultures, volunteering as the events director for Japan Film Society, and setting out to eat at every restaurant in Little Tokyo.

Professional / Career Goals: I want to continue working in events for a Japanese related organization aimed at maintaining positive relations between the United States and Japan.

What is your first recollection of Nisei Week? As a child, I remember watching the obon-style dancers during the Nisei Week parade.

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Princess Tamara Mieko Teragawa

East San Gabriel Valley Japanese Community Center

Birthplace: West Covina, CA

Age: 25

Education: California State University Fullerton

Degree: Dual Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude

Major: Communications and Dance

Platform: Give Back Yoga Foundation

Hobbies & Activities: Hot yoga, dancing, finding new music, basketball, cooking healthy foods, fishing, DIY projects, and anything related to Harry Potter.

Professional / Career Goals: My ultimate goal is to expand on my teaching career and guide professional athletes through their own yoga practice. I also aspire to one day dance professionally for a modern/contemporary company.

What is your first recollection of Nisei Week?  I am fortunate to have watched my two older sisters participate as members of Nisei Week courts in 2010 (Kelli) and 2013 (Jamie). I attended several events and activities and witnessed each one grow tremendously while making everlasting friendships.  My sisters have inspired and encouraged me to take this amazing opportunity.