Women of the Year to be recognized by JACL City Center

The Los Angeles Downtown branch of the American Citizens’ Japanese League and the Southern California Women’s Association have selected two notable Japanese community leaders for the 2022 Women’s of the Year Award: Yoko Avia and Yoko Nishimoto.

This year’s Lunch Event will be held at Quet Cannon, Rooms Crystal 1 and 3, 901 N. Via San Clemente, Montebello, on Sunday, May 1, at 12:30 p.m.

Yoko Avaya

Yoko Avaya was born in Tokyo in 1941. She started studying Koto at the age of 13, and Giota-Sangen at the age of 18. She received her teaching certificate and a master’s degree from Koto’s Michio Miyagi School in Tokyo. She moved to the Los Angeles area in 1965, and continued her studies with Madame Kazu Codo.

In 1974, Awaya formed its own group, Awaya-kai. In 1994, she founded the Yoko Avaya Koto Conservatory of Music, a non-profit organization dedicated to the Japanese musical arts of Koto and Giota-Sangen.

Yoko Avaya

Over the past 50 years, members of Awaya and Awaya-kai have made many cultural contributions to the American Japanese community and the musical arts. Their first concert was in Gardena in 1976. They performed at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Japan-America Theater, Armstrong Theater, USA-Japan Expo, Los Angeles Museum, UCLA, USC, Getty Center and Japanese Garden, San Conservatory of Music Francisco, Mackie Auditorium in Colorado, University of Colorado in Boulder, Lafayette College in Philadelphia and Jacobs Philo in Massachusetts.

In 1994, Awaya-kai received a grant from the E. Nakamichi Foundation of Japan to produce a special concert of “Baroque Music in Koto” at Torrance.

Awaya has also appeared on radio, television and movie soundtrack, and has prepared studio recordings for Walt Disney World. Awaya-kai has given numerous charity appearances, such as for Keiro Senior Healthcare of Los Angeles; Makoto Takenaka’s charity jazz concert at the Marsee Auditorium and Okinawa; Annual Birthday Party at Kei Ai / South Bay Keiro (1994-2019); A charity concert by Ukraine and Koto for the Fukushima children at Torrance (2013); Tsunami disaster relief project at Japanese Garden Earl Burns Miller in Long Beach (2011); Awaya-kai charity concert for the Kumamoto earthquake in Torrance (2017).

Awaya and Awaya-kai have performed regularly at community events such as Torrance Bunka-Sai (1986-2019), Nisei Week, California State University in Long Beach and Earl Burns Miller’s Japanese Garden. Special events include the 110th Anniversary Celebration of the Japanese Women’s Association of Southern California and the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Japanese Community Pioneer Center.

Awaya-kai actively participated in events organized by the Southern California Japanese Chamber of Commerce, such as the Jokun Recognition Banquet at the Hyatt Regency Los Angeles (1997), the Jokun Recognition Lunch at the Quet Cannon (1999), and New Year’s performances. In Little Tokyo.

Awaya has performed for the Consulate General of Japan on numerous occasions, such as parties for the Bottle Group from Japan, the Emperor’s birthday at the Consulate General’s residence, and the “Japan Today” event at the Huntington Library.

Awaya and Awaya-kai have received awards from the Southern California Japanese Chamber of Commerce, Nanka Kenjinkai Kyogikai, the Orange County American Cultural Association, the California State Assembly and the City of Torrance.

Awaya has been involved in many music and culture-related organizations, including Kudo-kai (1966-1983), the Koto String Association (1984-1997), and the Japanese-American Orange Cultural Association (1980-2016), Nihon Geijutsu Shudan. , And the Japanese Women’s Association of Southern California.

Mioko Nishimoto

Miyoko Nishimoto was born in Fukuoka and grew up in the city of Ureshino, Saga district. Upon the death of her parents, and at the urging of her sister, she moved to the United States in 1970. Within six months she received her driver’s license and began working for the Voit Rubber Company in Santa Anna. Two years later she left her job to concentrate on raising her son, Nick, and her three daughters, Kazumi, Maiomi and Rubber, and she also helped her husband, Kazuhiko, with his business.

In 1977, Nishimoto returned to work. She worked for the United States Marine Corps Brigade K2 for two years; Again she was the only Japanese-speaking worker. Following her work at the Navy Station she opened and operated a cafe.

Mioko Nishimoto

The Orange County American Association (OCJAA) was established in 1986, and while attending one of its many events, Nishimoto decided to become more involved as a volunteer. In 1987, she trained for three months in Little Tokyo under the guidance of Yasuko Sakamoto and upon completion of the course, began volunteering in the office every week.

Nishimoto’s volunteer activities have expanded to include a senior citizens’ appreciation group, Rosh Hashanah parties, golf tournaments, a green card application and assistance with the renewal process, cultural festivals and more. She also volunteered when former President George W. Bush performed at Mile Square Park in Fountain Valley.

For two years, Nishimoto volunteered three times a week at the Southern California Department of Commerce (JCCSC). She met many people from different backgrounds, and further deepened her appreciation for volunteering. She has been volunteering at the JCCSC Golf Tournament since 1990 and the Nanka Kenjinkai Kyogikai Golf Tournament since 2004.

Nishimoto’s volunteer work was recognized by the OCJAA with the Community Service Award in 1993, 2012 and 2016; By the Orange County Community Service Award (OCNCC) in 2012 and 2014; By the Nisei Week Foundation as a 2014 Nisei Week pioneer; And by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce with the Nikkei Spirit Award in 2018.

In January 2009, after living in the U.S. for 39 years, Nishimoto proudly became a U.S. citizen. Currently, she is assisting her husband in his business and taking time to enjoy her family. She has seven grandchildren, ages 10-21. She helps pick up and drop off during the week.

Nishimoto is still active with OCJAA, Southern California Amami Kai and Southern California Saga Kenjinkai. She previously served in the following offices for Southern California Kagoshima Kanjinkai: President from 2012-2014, Treasurer from 1999-2001, President of the Women’s Division from 2002-2005 and Secretary from 2007-2011. She is currently the President of Southern California Showa-Kai, the Vice President of Southern California Kenjinkai Kyogikai, and the Vice President of OCJAA.

Ticket information

Tickets cost $ 45 for an adult and $ 25 for a child (ages 10 and under). Indicate if vegetarian is requested. The deadline for bookings is April 16th.

Registration begins at 12:00 with no gifts please. Seating arrangements are made at tables of eight. Check downtown LA JACL. Mail check and list of attendees to Amy Tambra, Women’s Chair of the Year, 526½ W. Riggin St., Monterey Park, CA 91754.

For more information, call Amy Tambra (English / Arabic) at (323) 722-3897, Rodney Nakada (English / Japanese / Days) at (213) 628-1800, or Joyce Chin (English / Japanese) at ( 818) 317 -4541.

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