2019 Grand Marshal

Grand Marshal – Akemi Miyake

Akemi Miyake was born on August 12, 1919 in Arcadia, Calif., to Jitsuo and Makiko Miyake. At age four, Miyake and his family moved back to Japan with his sisters, Akeko and Miyako. His other three siblings, sister Chiyoko and brothers Akede and Tsukimi, were born in Japan. Miyake graduated Shiwa Agricultural high school in 1937. After graduation, he returned to America. Miyake worked at Sawada Farms in Gardena with his older sister Akeko and brother-in-law Yukinao Sawada.

In March 1942, he relocated to Salt Lake City to avoid being detained in a WWII internment camp. Miyake farmed celery during the day and worked at the Grand America Hotel as a dishwasher in the evening. In October 1945, he married Hisako Kurosu and returned to Los Angeles. Along with Yukinao, he first farmed in Long Beach then settled in Stanton under H. Y. Sawada Farms, later becoming Sawada and Miyake Farms. In 1957, Miyake became part of a 10-year farming exchange program between the U.S. and Japan. Approximately 125 Japanese trainees came and lived on the Stanton farm to learn American agriculture. He continued farming strawberries, tomatoes, citrus and vegetables until his retirement in 1995.

With the passing of Yukinao in 1960 and his wife in 1979, he became even more committed to giving back to the community. HIs father taught him the importance of giving back when he first left Hiroshima and honored him by doing so. Miyake served as president of the Nanka Kenjinkai Kyogikai (1981 – 1982), Japanese Pioneer Service Center (1985 – 1989), Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Southern California (1988 – 1990), and Dai Nihon Nokai Southern California Council (1993 – 1998). While serving as the president of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Southern California, he had the honor of attending the funeral of Emperor Hirohito in 1989 and attending the coronation of Emperor Akihito in 1990.

From 1982 – 1990, he served on the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center (JACCC) board of directors and helped raise funds for the JACCC building, Aratani Theater, and the Japanese American National Museum. In 1990, Miyake continued to support the arts by taking an advisory role in Japanese cultural arts including calligraphy, tea ceremony, and flower arranging.

Many of Miyake’s involvements continue today. He started the Southern California Gate Ball Association in 1987 and served as inaugural president for many years, where he continues to play in his spare time. He also was one of the founding members of the Orange County Japanese American Association and was president from 1987 – 1990; today, he serves as a member of the board of directors. Miyake continues to support the Nanka Kenjinkai Kyogikai, which raises money to benefit orphans in Japan.

Some of Miyake’s many awards and accomplishments include:

1963 – Agricultural Society of Japan – Ryokuhakujuyukosho Award

1982 – Agricultural Society of Japan – Kohakuju Award

1983 – Government of Japan – Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays

1984 – Little Tokyo Centennial Honoree

1986 – Little Tokyo Service Center Pioneer Award

1992 – Nisei Week Pioneer Award and Pacific Pioneer Award

1996 – Government of Japan – Order of the Sacred Treasure Gold Rays with Rosette

2000 – Agricultural Society of Japan – the Shihakujuyukosho Award

Miyake resides in Villa Park and has six children, nine grandchildren and four great grandchildren. He says “Thank you very, very much” to the Nisei Week Foundation for the honor of being selected Grand Marshal of the 79th Nisei Week Japanese Festival Grand Parade.