2016 Grand Marshal

Kaori Nara TurnerGrand Marshal – Kaori Nara Turner

Kaori Nara was born in Tokyo in 1933.  She learned Japanese dance from the age of 6, and tap dance at 7, and her talents were quickly recognized by many.  She became a professional dancer when she was 14 years old and performed at many theaters both in Japan and abroad.  In 1966 she married Bill Turner, who was a well-known Hollywood makeup artist. She moved to the U.S., where she continued her career as a dancer.  Forced to give up dancing because of a knee injury, she started a new career as a makeup artist like her husband.

In the industry she became known as “Miss Sunshine” and “magic hands” and became one of the most successful Japanese makeup artists in the American film and TV industry. In 2003 she won an Emmy Award for “Outstanding Makeup for a Series” for her work on the TV series “Alias.”  In addition to “Alias,” she has worked on numerous movies and TV shows, including: “Flash Dance,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “Planet of the Apes,” “Ghost Busters,” “Kill Bill,” “Last Samurai,” and “American Beauty.”

While pursuing her ambitions as a makeup artist, she also made extraordinary efforts to promote a better understanding of Japanese traditional arts and kimono, among the Hollywood community.  She achieved this by giving numerous lectures to American makeup artists.  In October 2005, she hosted a magnificent kimono show in Hollywood, which served to introduce people in the film industry to the beauty of authentic Japanese kimono.  In addition, she was instrumental in helping Disneyland host its Japan Festivals in the 1970s and 80s.  These events featured Japanese dance, tea ceremony, flower arrangement, calligraphy, Japanese cooking, and offered a glimpse of Japanese culture to the thousands of tourists from all over the world who visited Disneyland.  In November 2006, Turner received the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays from the Japan government for promoting Japanese culture and friendly relationship between Japan and the United States.

Since 2007, she has been instrumental in coordinating bringing Aomori, Japan’s gigantic paper floats, “Nebuta,” to Los Angeles and the Nisei Week Japanese Festival Grand Parade. She was also very involved in bringing the Nebuta to the 75th Anniversary Nisei Week Grand Parade. The Nebuta’s theme was “Yoshitsune Tsugaru Tokai” or Worrier Yoshitsune’s endeavor to cross the rough whirlpool of Tsugaru Strait, which is somewhat indicative of Turner’s years of tireless efforts to bridge the two countries across the ocean.

Over the years, Turner has also been supportive of various Japanese American community organizations in Southern California, including local senior healthcare organizations and Japan’s nationwide charity drive, Ayumi-no-Hako.