2016 Nisei Week Queen Jaclyn Hidemi Tomita takes her first walk as queen on Saturday night at the Aratani Theatre. (MARIO G. REYES/Rafu Shimpo)
By GWEN MURANAKA, Rafu English Editor-in-Chief
Jaclyn Hidemi Tomita, a 24-year-old graduate of San Diego State University, was crowned Nisei Week Queen at the 76th annual Nisei Week Coronation on Saturday night at the Aratani Theatre in Little Tokyo.
Tomita represents the San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center, where she played basketball with the San Fernando Athletics and even volunteered at the booths during Obon.
“I was in shock at first and then an overwhelming sense of happiness,” Tomita said.
“It’s been an amazing experience. I’ve never bonded so instantaneously with a group of girls before. I’m so excited for this journey we’re about to take together.”
Tomita plans to attend nursing school and become a registered nurse. At SDSU, she served on the Nikkei Student Union executive board and was a participant in the Kakehashi Project, whose mission is to facilitate understanding between Japanese and Japanese Americans. She said she is looking forward to being an ambassador for the Japanese American community.
Tomita reacts as her name is called as the 2016 Nisei Week Queen. She is joined onstage by (from left) Kaya Minezaki, Heather Iwata, Shannon Tsumaki and April Nishinaka. (MARIO G. REYES/Rafu Shimpo)
The title of First Princess went to Megan Tomiko Ono, who is sponsored by the Orange County Nikkei Coordinating Council. Ono, 23, is a graduate of Cal State Long Beach and works as a facilitator for Kizuna’s youth programs.
Julia Kiyomi Tani, representing the Pasadena Japanese Cultural Institute, was named Miss Tomodachi. Tani, 24, graduated from the California Maritime Academy and hopes to become a speech pathologist or special education teacher.
The 2016 Nisei Week Court will represent the Japanese American community at events throughout Southern California as well as travel to Japan, Hawaii and San Francisco. Also serving on the court are:
Kaya Minezaki, 24, sponsored by the Japanese Restaurant Association of America;
Heather Yoneko Iwata, 25, sponsored by the East San Gabriel Valley Japanese Community Center;
Shannon Aiko Rose Tsumaki, 22, sponsored by the West Los Angeles JACL and Venice Japanese Community Center;
April Leilani Nishinaka, 23, sponsored by Gardena Evening Optimist.
A full report of the coronation and other Nisei Week events will be in the Tuesday edition of The Rafu.