Supporters of Japanese culture across the nation recognized with Kunsho medals

In the May 27 issue, the Nichi Bei Weekly published information about Kunsho medal recipients named by the Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco. Kunsho medals have been simultaneously handed out all across the country; this week’s issue includes information about recipients from other areas.

Southern California and Arizona

Paul Kunio Shiba Takeo Uesugi Masako Takiguchi photos courtesy of the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles

Paul Kunio Shiba of Los Angeles has been awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays. While his children were enrolled in the Japanese Language School Unifi ed System (Kyodo), he became involved at the administrative level and worked for the expansion of Japanese language and culture education. He drew on this experience to become involved in the California Association of Japanese Language Schools Inc., becoming chairman of its Textbook Management Committee. He also took on leadership roles in the federation of prefectural associations in Southern California, Nanka Kenjinkai Kyogikai, and is president of Seinan Senior Center, a social services organization in the Crenshaw area that serves Japanese and Japanese American seniors.

Dr. Takeo Uesugi of West Covina has been awarded the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold Ray with Neck Ribbon. Born to a family tied to the tradition of Japanese gardens, he designed the landscape for the Japan Pavilion at the Osaka Expo in 1970. A graduate of UC Berkeley with a master’s in landscape architecture, he returned to America as an assistant professor in that subject at Cal Poly Pomona. He has devoted his time to the practice, research and design of Japanese gardens across the country. His prominent works include the James Irvine Japanese Garden at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo and the Japanese Friendship Garden in San Diego’s Balboa Park. He received the National Landscape Award, presented by First Lady Nancy Reagan, in 1981. Uesugi is also a minister in the Tenrikyo faith.

Masako Takiguchi of Phoenix, Ariz. has been awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Silver Rays. In 1976, Phoenix and Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture established sister-city ties. Takiguchi served as a committee member of the Himeji City Committee of Phoenix, becoming the chairperson from 1991-1993. She also created an organization to build an authentic Japanese garden in Phoenix, serving as fundraiser, negotiator and coordinator. The garden, called Ro Ho En, was completed in 2002. She continues to maintain operations there and work on completion of additional buildings. She is on the Planning Committee of Arizona’s largest Japanese cultural event, “Matsuri.”

Nokie Edwards of Scottsdale, Ariz., and Gerry McGee of Granada Hills has been awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette. They played lead guitar and lead and bass guitar, respectively, for the Ventures. In 1960, the band forever changed the sound of rock and roll with their legendary instrumental hit, “Walk, Don’t Run.” They visited Japan for the fi rst time in 1962. Since then, The Ventures have toured Japan almost every year, for a total of some 2,400 performances. They are currently scheduled to tour Japan for three months this year, starting on July 15. The Ventures composed over 30 songs specifi cally for the Japanese market, and many of these songs became huge hits in the 1960s and ’70s. They signifi cantly infl uenced the Japanese music scene and contributed to the promotion of friendly relations between the U.S. and Japan.

Seattle/Pacifi c Northwest

Don Wilson of Sammamish, Wash., rhythm guitar player for the Ventures, has been awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, for contributions to the development and enrichment of music culture in Japan, as well as to the promotion of cordial relations between the U.S. and Japan.

Kazuko Umezu Stout of Yelm, Wash., founder and former president of the Nikkei International Marriage Society, has been awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Silver Rays, for helping to raise the social status of “war brides,” Japanese women who married American men soon after World War II.

Chicago/Midwest

Dr. Ronald Roskens of Nebraska has been awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, for the promotion of exchange and friendship between the U.S. and Japan. He served as president of the University of Nebraska, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, and honorary consul general of Japan.

Clyde E. Dickey has been awarded

the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold

Rays with Rosette, for promotion of

exchange and mutual understanding

in economy and culture between the

U.S. and Japan. He founded the Japanese

International Network (JIN)

to help Japanese business students

build networks overseas and served

as president of the Japan America

Society of Chicago.

Boston/New England

David Fulenwider, president of the Japan-America Society of Maine, has been awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon, for the promotion of friendly relations between the U.S. and Japan.

Gerald P. Rooney, president of the Whitfi eld-Manjiro Friendship Society, has been awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays, for promotion of sister-city relations and the encouragement of cultural exchange between Japan and the U.S. based on the story of John Manjiro, including a festival held by sister-city committees in Tosashimizu, Kochi Prefecture (Manjiro’s birthplace) and Fairhaven/New Bedford, Mass. (home of Capt. William Whitfi eld).

Dr. Shinya Inoue, Architectural Dynamics in Living Cells program director at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass., has been awarded the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon, for contributions to science and the development of technologies, and the promotion of research cooperation between Japan and the U.S.

Takeshi Kokubo, lecturer emeritus of Japanese language and literature at the University of Massachusetts Boston, has been awarded the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold Rays with Rosette, for promoting Japanese language education in the U.S. and supporting the Japanese community.

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