Women Of The Year

2014

FOUR WOMEN SELECTED AS WOMEN OF THE YEAR BY THE DOWNTOWN LA JACL
AND THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA JAPANESE WOMEN’S SOCIETY

  • Keiko Yonamine Reich

    Keiko Yonamine Reich, the headmaster of the Kansenkai, was born on July 27, 1944, in Kin-Cho, Okinawa. In 1963, she graduated from Ginoza High School, where she was on the basketball team. After graduation, she worked as a bookkeeper in a restaurant business.

    In 1972, Reich began to learn Okinawan dance from Grandmaster Iemoto Shizu Ikehara, head of the Tamagusuku-Ryu Kansenkai (formerly named Gyokusenkai). Reich participated in Ikehara’s dance recitals and at various community events as a way to develop and promote Kansenkai.

    In 1982, Reich enrolled at the Kyoto Kimono Gakuin, where she earned her first- and second-class teacher’s licenses and became a teacher’s assistant.

    In December of 1984, Reich’s military husband was transferred to the United States, so her family moved to Oceanside, where she opened her first dance studio. At her students’ request, Reich opened a second studio in Orange County and a third studio in Tuscon, Ariz.

  • Hiroko Hirayama

    Hiroko Hirayama was born in Anzan City, Manchuria, in 1938. She returned to Kumamoto, Japan when she was 8 years old after the end of World War II. In junior high and high school, she developed a love for playing the piano and singing in the school chorus. She graduated from Yamaga High School in 1957.

    From 1961 to 1970, Hirayama worked for Kumamoto Broadcasting (RKK) as a television and radio announcer. She married her husband, Yasumasa Hirayama, and moved to the United States in 1970.

    From 1971 to 1977, Hirayama continued working part-time as an announcer and newscaster for Asahi Home Cast while raising her children.

    From 1979 to 1986, Hirayama was hired by United Television Broadcasting (UTB) and appeared on television as a newscaster. She worked for the Japanese Language School Kyodo System as an instructor, teaching Japanese from 1981 to 1988.

  • Dianne Michiko Fukuwa

    Dianne Michiko Fukuwa is a third-generation Japanese American who is also known by her stage name, Fujima Seiyumi. Introduced to her Japanese culture at an early age, she felt as though her parents chose her to embrace the cultural traditions for the family. Because of this, Fukuwa was immersed in the arts, which included koto, shamisen, chanoyu (tea ceremony), ikebana (flower arrangement), shodo (calligraphy), and Nihon buyo (classical dance).

    In high school, Fukuwa was selected to be part of the City of Gardena’s first delegation to visit its sister city, Ichikawa. She attended UCLA, where she minored in Asian studies and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Japanese. Shortly afterwards, Fukuwa had the opportunity to live in Japan and taught English not only to adults and children, but to employees of notable entities like Lotte, Nippon Kokan, and Tokyo Ika Daigaku (Tokyo Medical University).

    Fukuwa was encouraged to continue her study of Nihon buyo by Madame Fujima Chiseye, her mentor in Los Angeles, and received tremendous support from renowned experts of dance and choreography such as master instructor Madame Fujima Isesuzu of Tokyo, Fujima Tomoaki, Nakamura Danshichi, and Madame Hanayagi Chiyo.

    In addition to performing at several venues in Tokyo, Fukuwa was given the chance of a lifetime to perform at the Kabukiza Theatre and he National Theatre of Japan. Of all her dances, she feels that “Kagami Jishi” was the most physically challenging as its depiction of a shy court lady’s gradual transformation into a fierce lion lasts nearly an hour.

  • Yoshie Sato

    Yoshie Sato has been an avid supporter of the Nikkei community for many years. She has been the president of the Tochigi Kenjinkai for the past eight years. At the association’s 20th anniversary ceremony, she received the Distinguished Service Award from Gov. Tomikazu Fukuda of Tochigi Prefecture. Sato organized the LA Sweets Charity Event at the Miyako Hybrid Hotel to raise funds for Ganbaro Tohoku.

    Sato’s active involvement in promoting Tochigi has awarded her the title of Tochigi Mirai Taishi by the governor himself. She also served as an ambassador to promote positive public relations for Tochigi. In 2011, Sato served as secretary for the Nanka Kenjinkai Kyogikai, and helped with entertaining special guests from Japan.

    She performed at the annual Kenjinkai Kyogikai Shinboku Engeikai, an event to raise scholarship funds for young men and women who excel in promoting and continuing to practice the Japanese culture.

    Sato has been promoting Tanabata from the beginning as one of the leaders at the kazari-making workshop. At the 2013 Tanabata Festival in Little Tokyo, Sato designed her own kazari, titled “Tochimaru Kun,” which was awarded first place and received the People’s Choice Award. Because of this, Sato was selected to take part in the Nisei Week Parade.