Candidates Take Center Stage for Nisei Week Coronation


The 2015 Nisei Week Queen candidates. Back row, from left: Kelsey Kwong, Karen Mizoguchi, Sara Hutter, Veronica Ota. Front row, from left: Tamara Teragawa, Michelle Hanabusa, Camryn Sugita. (Toyo Miyatake Photo)

The 2015 Nisei Week Queen candidates. Back row, from left: Kelsey Kwong, Karen Mizoguchi, Sara Hutter, Veronica Ota. Front row, from left: Tamara Teragawa, Michelle Hanabusa, Camryn Sugita. (All photos by Toyo Miyatake Studio)


Seven candidates will compete for the title of 2015 Nisei Week Queen on Saturday, Aug. 15, from 7 p.m., at the Coronation Ball at the Aratani Theatre, 244 S. San Pedro St. in Little Tokyo. The dinner prior to the coronation ball will be held at 5 p.m. at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel L.A. Downtown, 120 S. Los Angeles St., with cocktails being served at 4:30 p.m.

Tickets are available at the Golden Circle level, which includes dinner and preferred seating at the coronation, for $170 per person; general admission tickets are $80 per person.

The newly crowned queen and her court will represent the Nisei Week Foundation at this year’s festival and other community events across Southern California, as well as nationally and internationally (including Nagoya, Japan) throughout the year.

Following are profiles of the 2015 Nisei Week candidates.


michelle hanabusa

Her hobbies include weekly yoga practices, finding creative inspiration by reading blogs and listening to podcasts such as “Design Sponge” and “Being Boss,” traveling around the world (with the goal of traveling to a new country each year), and volunteering as a coach, and choreographer for the USC Ice Girls. Hanabusa has chosen Special World Olympic Games as her platform.

First recollection of Nisei Week: “From a young age, my family and I have attended Nisei Week in support of my grandmother, who performed with her odori group in the parade. I remember waving frantically and calling out, ‘Grandma, Grandma!’ to get her attention as she danced by us. I could see the joy in her eyes as she tried to contain her smile.”


sachiko hutter

During her free time, she enjoys playing basketball, traveling, hiking, watching movies, and trying new restaurants. Hutter will support the National Psoriasis Foundation as her platform.

First recollection of Nisei Week: “My first recollection of Nisei Week would be in 2009 when I attended the Golden Circle Dinner and Coronation with members of my family. I was able to meet members of the court and talk to others who were involved in events throughout the week.”


kelsey kwong

During her free time, she enjoys singing opera, dancing hula, writing poetry, cheering for the Dodgers, collecting pillbox hats and other vintage clothing, and doing chemistry research. Kwong has chosen the Wounded Warrior Project as her platform.

First recollection of Nisei Week: “My most memorable experience of Nisei Week was winning the gold medal at the Nikkei Games 3-on-3 basketball tournament at the Long Beach Pyramid.”


karen mizoguchi

Her hobbies include Pilates, reading entertainment magazines, trying new restaurants, and volunteering as the president for the South East Los Angeles/North Orange County (SELANOCO) chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL). Mizoguchi has selected the American Cancer Society as the platform.

First recollection of Nisei Week: “Since I was a child, I remember hearing about the impact Nisei Week had on my friend’s older siblings. I have attended only a few events and remember taking away great memories and friendships.”


veronica ota

Her hobbies include singing and playing guitar with her dad’s classic rock band, reading and writing haiku poetry, and meeting new people. Ota will support Reading Is Fundamental as her platform.

First recollection of Nisei Week: “I remember my aunt would take my cousin and me to the Obon rehearsals near the JACCC when we were young. I loved watching the ladies around me and learning the dances from them. Everyone was so kind and welcoming, and it was always really fun to dance with my little cousin.”


camryn sugita

During her free time, she enjoys documenting her travels through photography, researching other countries and cultures, volunteering as the events director for the Japan Film Society, and has set a goal of eating at every restaurant in Little Tokyo. Sugita will support Homeboy Industries as her platform.

First recollection of Nisei Week: “As a child, I remember watching the Obon-style dancers during the Nisei Week Parade.”


tamara teragawa

During her spare time, she enjoys hot yoga, dancing, finding new music, basketball, cooking healthy foods, fishing, DIY projects, and anything related to Harry Potter. Teragawa has selected Giv