Lani Kume Nishiyama crowned Nisei Week Queen in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo

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Lani Nishiyama, photo by Toyo Miyatake Studios

LOS ANGELES — The Nisei Week Foundation announced that Lani Kume Nishiyama became the 70th Nisei Week Queen on Aug. 14, at the Nisei Week Coronation held at the Aratani/Japan America Theatre in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo. The 2009 Nisei Week Queen, Dana Fujiko Heatherton, passed on her reign to Nishiyama.

The 2010 Nisei Week Court members, who also participated in the coronation, are: First Princess Kelli Toshiye Teragawa, Miss Tomadachi Jamie Joyce Hagiya, Princess Brynn Akemi Nakamoto, Princess Christy Kimiko Sakamoto, Princess Lauren Terumi Weber and Princess Erin Reiko Yokomizo.

A panel of five judges selected Nishiyama as the new queen.

Nishiyama represents the West Los Angeles Japanese American Citizens League and the Venice Japanese Community Center. She is 24 years old and received her bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in real estate finance from the University of Southern California.

“I am so proud and honored to be a part of this Nisei Week tradition and I never imagined to be surrounded by such talented and intelligent ladies,” said Nishiyama.

“I joined Nisei Week with the hope to bring people from outside of the Japanese American community to understand our culture and rich history.”

Nishiyama’s speech touched upon her growing up and having to adapt to different environments and being “different” than her peers. She believed through food she made friendships and was able to share her culture with others. Food is a part of her family, as her grandfather is Robert Taira, founder of King’s Hawaiian Bakery and Restaurant.

Nishiyama was born in Hawai‘i, but grew up in Torrance, Calif. Nishiyama is currently pursuing an acting career and is a student of the Wayne Dvorak Acting Studio. She enjoys running with her dog, cooking, doing ceramics, playing piano, doing improvisation, backpacking, singing, rollerblading, playing volleyball and tutoring. The platform she will support this year is The Guide Dogs of America.

The coronation ceremony was an evening of laughs and entertainment, with co-hosts actress Tamilyn Tomita and ABC Eyewitness News Anchor David Ono. Highlights included taiko drum performances by Johnny Mori and Danny Yamamoto and a Japanese folk music group, Minyo Station.

The 2010 Nisei Week Japanese Festival will take place in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo through Aug. 22. The festivities feature free Japanese cultural events, activities and exhibits, a variety of music and entertainment and food.

The Nisei Week Foundation was established in 1999 as a nonprofit organization to oversee and organize the Nisei Week Japanese Festival. The nine-day event first held in 1934 and is today one of the longest running ethnic festivals in the United States. For more information, go to www.NiseiWeek.org or call (213) 687-7193. The Nisei Week office is located at 244 South San Pedro Street, Suite 303, Los Angeles, CA 90012.

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