So we’re a little late posting this here, but did originally link to the online article on our FB page last year. In 2018, our dojo advisor, Arthur Takashi Ishii, was bestowed a Nisei Week Pioneer Spirit Award for his participation, support, activism, and leadership within the Los Angeles Japanese American community. Awardees are nominated by community peers and honored at an annual luncheon.
Nisei Week is the longest running Japanese festival in California, hosted in the historic Little Tokyo district of downtown Los Angeles since 1934. A seven year hiatus began in 1942 due to the mass removal and incarceration of all persons of Japanese ancestry from West Coast military exclusion zones following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor.
Japanese Americans began returning to the West Coast in 1945, as the camps began closing and the exclusion orders were lifted. After four years of reestablishing their lives and the Little Tokyo neighborhood – originally formed in the late 1800s by Japanese immigrants – in 1949 the community resurrected the Nisei Week festival, which has run every year since.
Ishii sensei’s deep roots in this community date back to his elementary school days at Maryknoll Japanese Elementary School on Hewitt Street, four blocks from where he currently operates his dojo in the social hall of Centenary UMC – a church founded in Little Tokyo in 1896.