Nisei Week Festival to Honor Eight Pioneers

The Nisei Week Foundation has announced the 2018 Nisei Week Pioneer Spirit honorees who will be recognized during the 78th annual Nisei Week Japanese Festival (Aug, 11-19) in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo.

The eight recipients make up some of the most active and dedicated leaders of the greater Los Angeles Japanese American community. They will be honored at the 2018 Pioneer Spirit Luncheon to be held at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel, 120 S. Los Angeles St., on Wednesday, Aug. 15, at 12 noon. Tickets are $65 per person or $650 per table of 10 and can be obtained by calling the Nisei Week Foundation office at (213) 687-7193 or by emailing

Following are profiles of the 2018 Nisei Week Pioneer Spirit Award honorees.

In 1957, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in physics from UCLA and worked at various well-known companies until his retirement in 1988 from the Xerox Palo Alto Research Group.

Arase has dedicated himself to the Japanese and Japanese American community by being involved with numerous organizations and activities, holding various leadership positions that utilize his skills and knowledge.

He has been a director on the Japanese Community Pioneer Center (JCPC) committee board since 2014 and was vice president in 2016. Since 2013, Arase has been a volunteer instructor for beginning computer classes, teaching software programs such as Microsoft Word and Windows 10.

He continues to organize and publish the quarterly newsletter, “Oshirase,” which he created in 2014. It features many articles on health and wellness, arts and crafts, and community events.

Arase was one of the founding members of the America Miyazaki Kenjin Kai, established in 1977, and continues to be actively involved. Currently, he is vice president, treasurer, official photographer, and webmaster.

Since 1947, Arase has been actively involved with the Mission Valley Free Methodist Church in San Gabriel, including holding leadership positions and producing the monthly newsletters. He also serves as the master of ceremonies at least once a month for the morning services. He is not only involved in the local church, but has also held various positions regionally, including: Board of Administration, Ministerial Appointment, Ministerial Education Group, and Financial Board for the Pacific Coast Japanese Free Methodist Conference.

Arase remarried five years ago to his wife, Chieko.

In 1974, while attending Sangyo Noritsu University, he made a decision to further his education by attending school abroad in Los Angeles. Four years later, he married Hatsumi Kobayashi. Prior to retirement, he spent many years beautifying Los Angeles homes as a gardener and landscaper. He became a U.S. citizen in 2001.

For more than 40 years, from the 1970s to the present, Fukuoka has been very active in helping and volunteering with the Japanese community and nonprofit organizations. He has served as president of the Nanka Kenjinkai Kyogikai, Kumamoto Kenjinkai, and Taisho Club; and as vice president, chairperson and other important positions for many other Nikkei organizations.

In 2013, he received the Honorable Ryokuhakuji Yukousho Award from the Japanese government and the Testimonial Award from the Kumamoto prefectural government.

One of his most prominent volunteering contributions was in 2016. The Kumamoto region was hit with a 7.0 magnitude earthquake on April 16 that year. Shortly after this tragic event, Fukuoka spearheaded the Kenjinkai Kyogikai’s Kumamoto Earthquake Relief Fund Drive.

Today, Fukuoka continues to participate and volunteer with the Japanese-speaking community and organizations. He and his wife Hatsumi have two daughters, Emi and Akiko.

Horio operated his successful landscape company based in the San Fernando Valley for close to 50 years. He has been a member of the San Fernando Valley Landscape Gardeners Association and the Southern California Gardeners’ Federation for more than 50 years, and was president of the Southern California Gardeners’ Federation in 1984 and 1985.

During this time, Horio helped his fellow landscapers and gardeners by being involved in running these predominantly Japanese American organizations. He helped in community activities such as the saving and relocation of the grapefruit tree to the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center’s Noguchi Plaza. In the Sepulveda Dam, he helped prune the pine trees, and assisted during the annual rose pruning at the Rose Bowl. He was also involved with the Keiro Home (Lincoln Heights) garden cleanup, which was done every other month for many years. These activities were all done on Sundays after a long week of work.

In 1986, the City of Los Angeles wanted to prohibit the use of gas-powered leaf blowers that were used by professional gardeners. Horio, along with many fellow gardeners, took time out of their busy work schedule and organized and attended hearings at City Hall to convince the City Council to reject this prohibition. To this day, he becomes emotional when he recalls how so many of his fellow gardeners got involved and worked together for a common cause.

Horio enjoys spending his retirement with his wife, Toshiko, whom he has been married to for 54 years, three adult children and seven grandchildren. He stays active by being an executive board member of the Southern California Gardeners’ Federation, an organizer of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Southern California’s year-end charity drive, and a board member of the Koreisha Senior Care and Advocacy organization.

While stationed in Japan, he met and married his wife Kyoko, with whom he had two children, Russell Takashi and Christine Namiko. Upon his honorable discharge from the Air Force, Ishii returned to Los Angeles and in 1969 co-founded the Yellow Brotherhood, an Asian American activist group whose mission was to provide peer leadership and rehabilitative services to an ailing generation of Asian American youth lost in the throes of gangs and drugs.

Yellow Brotherhood provided an alternative to the streets, offering homework tutoring, sports activities, community history education not found in school textbooks of the day, and peer counseling. The group disbanded in 1975, to be resurrected by its members a decade later as an Asian American youth basketball team.

Simultaneously, Ishii began raising a family as well as beginning a career in the commercial printing business. In 1980 he founded Alliance Artforms, a commercial printing outfit that continues to this day, specializing not only in business forms but also an extensive array of printed, silk screened, and embroidered marketing products and promotional items.

A lifetime martial artist, at age 10 Ishii entered Hollywood Judo Dojo under senseis Takashi Kikuchi, Frank and Art Emi, Frank Watanuki, and Gene LeBell. He later trained in Wing Chun gung fu at the New Chinatown Gung Fu Club under Randy Williams sifu; Goju-ryu Karate at Tenri Karate Dojo under Guy Kurose sensei; and Okinawan Shorin-ryu karate under senseis Eihachi Ota and Takayoshi Nagamine.

In 1990, Ishii founded Matsubayashi Shorin-ryu of Little Tokyo, the Los Angeles branch of the World Matsubayashi Shorin-ryu Karatedo Association (WMKA) headquartered in Okinawa. He holds the 6th dan grade and renshi, or “polished teacher,” instructorship title in this system.

As a longtime member of the Nisei Week Foundation board, Ishii is the current general chairman of Nikkei Games and a co-founder of the Nikkei Karate Committee, a non-political entity consisting of Japanese American karate instructors that organizes the Nikkei Games Karate Tournament and Seminar as part of the larger Nikkei Games Budo Tournament.

He is the proud grandfather of Miya, Ami and Ryan.