2018 Inspiration Awards

Harold “Hal” Keimi

Throughout the Nisei Week Japanese Festival, the newly-crowned Queen and Court will make dozens of public appearances; for the past 19 years, these memories have been documented by Harold “Hal” Keimi.

Born in Hollywood in 1931, Keimi grew up around his parents’ dry-cleaning business on Sunset Blvd before World War II sent the family to Santa Anita assembly center and eventually Heart Mountain internment camp. After returning to Los Angeles after the war, he graduated from Hollywood High School before being drafted into the Army, where he served from 1952 to 1954. Upon return, he played NAU basketball, softball, and baseball while attending the University of Southern California, graduating in 1960.

In 1961, he married his wife Barbara and became a schoolteacher, spending 30 years with the Los Angeles Unified School District. Outside of teaching, Keimi volunteered with CYC as a coach and official for youth basketball and baseball.

After retiring from teaching, Keimi dedicated even more of his time to volunteering with many different organizations. In 1990, he became a docent at the Japanese American National Museum and in 1992, he began a 20-year stint as a volunteer for his beloved Trojans in the USC Athletic Department. His exemplary service resulted in him receiving JANM’s Program Award in 1995 and the Miki Tanimura Award for Most Outstanding Volunteer in 2002. To this day, he and his wife Barbara continue their service at JANM, giving tours to the school children that come to visit the museum.

In 2000, Keimi became a volunteer for the Nisei Week Foundation as a personal photographer to the Nisei Week Court. He also eventually started capturing their experiences on video. By adding video, he wanted to give the Courts and their families a different look at their Nisei Week experience, as well as providing memories and documentation through photographs.

In addition to his volunteer work, Keimi has kept active in his retirement, starting to play taiko at age “50 plus” and running six marathons with his last one completed at age 65.

Keimi wants it to be known that even though he is the 2018 Nisei Week Inspiration award recipient, that every Nisei Week Court throughout the past 18 years has been an inspiration to him.