As Nisei Week celebrates “turning the corner” and a renewal of a beloved tradition, the 2023 Nisei Week queen candidates took center stage for their first official public appearance at the 81st Nisei Week Festival Opening Ceremony event held July 16 at the Japanese American National Museum.
The seven candidates will vie for the title of Nisei Week Queen on Saturday, Aug. 12, at 7 p.m., during the Coronation program at the Aratani Theatre, 244 S. San Pedro St. in Little Tokyo. General admission tickets are $85 per person.
Upon official coronation, the 2023 queen and court will represent the Nisei Week Foundation at this year’s 81st Nisei Week Japanese Festival and other community events locally and nationally throughout the year. The 2023 Nisei Week queen candidates are:
Nancy Izumi Chin (Pasadena Japanese Cultural Institute)
Nancy Izumi Chin is 25 years old and graduated from Mt. San Antonio College with an associate’s degree in respiratory therapy. She is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in health care management at Southern Illinois University. Nancy currently works as a patient care aide in pediatric oncology at City of Hope hospital. She will soon work as a respiratory care practitioner, with hopes of further specializing in neonatal care.
When she has spare time, she enjoys watching anime and cartoons, grabbing boba and desserts with friends, and jogging with her two corgis. The platform she has chosen to support is Be The Match.
Kaitlyn Emiko Chu (Orange County Nikkei Coordinating Council)
Kaitlyn Emiko Chu is 24 years old and earned her bachelor’s degree in arts, technology, and the business of innovation from the University of Southern California. Kaitlyn is currently working as a product designer at Apple, where she prototypes exciting new experiences, interactions, and animations.
When she has free time, she loves exploring new cities and cuisines, teaching workshops on how to make kokedama (the art of Japanese moss ball bonsai plants), and hosting book readings with her children’s book, “Smiling from Ear to Ear.” The platform she has chosen to support is Go For Broke National Education Center.
Aiko Marie Matsumura Dzikowski, (Venice Japanese Community Center and Venice-West Los Angeles JACL)
Aiko Marie Matsumura Dzikowski is 25 years old and earned her degree in anthropology at Smith College. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D.in linguistic anthropology with a focus on Japanese American Studies at UCLA. Upon graduation, she would like to pursue a career in teaching and diplomacy.
In her spare time, she enjoys driving around Los Angeles while singing along to the radio, and loves anything related to art, fitness, and animals. For her platform, she will be supporting Vigilant Love.
Kamalani Higashiyama (Japanese Restaurant Association of America)
Kamalani Higashiyama is 25 years old and graduated from CSU Long Beach with a bachelor’s degree in Asian American studies. She currently works as a projects associate for Go For Broke National Education Center.
In her spare time, she loves to read romance and mystery novels, does Olympic weightlifting, and is currently learning how to crochet. The platform she has chosen to support this year is Down But Not Out.
Kaili Mika Inouye (San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center)
Kaili Mika Inouye is 23 years old and earned her bachelor’s degree in human biology and master’s degree in biology from UC San Diego. She currently works as a research assistant at the San Diego Veterans Affairs Medical Center, researching lung cancer. She plans to apply for medical school next spring.
In her free time, she enjoys being outdoors, paddle boarding, running 5Ks, and coaching swimming and youth basketball. The platform she has chosen to support is the Japanese American National Museum.
Sara Emiko Kubo (East San Gabriel Valley Japanese Community Center)
Sara Emiko Kubo is 26 years old and earned her bachelor’s degree in international business from CSU Fullerton. She is currently working in the aerospace industry for Motiv Space Systems as a production control lead.
In her free time, she enjoys playing taiko, documenting her life’s events through photography, and volunteering with Nikkei Rising. The platform she has chosen to support is the Japanese American Memorial Pilgrimages.
Isabella Rose Polizzotto (Gardena Evening Optimist Club)
Isabella Rose Polizzotto is 24 years old and graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and criminal justice. Isabella currently works as a senior marketing coordinator at Music Will, the nation’s largest music education nonprofit.
In her free time, she enjoys vintage fashion, shopping, live music events, and growing her frequent flyer miles. She will support Gold House as her platform this year.
The coronation program is set to be a memorable event with co-hosts actor Tamlyn Tomita and ABC7 Eyewitness News anchor David Ono. For tickets, contact Keith Inatomi at [email protected].
The 81st Nisei Week Japanese Festival is a nine-day event first held in 1934 and is recognized today as one of the longest-running cultural festivals in the U.S. This event will take place in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo district from Aug, 12 to 20. For the festival schedule, visit www.NiseiWeek.org, call the Nisei Week Foundation office at (213) 687-7193 or email [email protected].