Yesterday I had the honor of being a judge at the Nisei Week Coronation Ball. Seven young women were vying for the title of queen and as I quickly learned, they were all very qualified. After having competed in American pageants, it was eye-opening to be apart of a Japanese American pageant. Their sense of appreciation, respect, and diligence is unmatched. I truly appreciated being apart of the event.
In America it seems we’re always so quick to speak. We don’t always let our thoughts develop before we start talking. It was impressive to see these girls truly take their time—to pause thoughtfully before stating their beliefs. It commanded attention. They said what they wanted to say with succinctness, clarity, and confidence. No fluff, no filler—just a clean answer.
Another fascinating aspect to the pageant was the sense of community, even when it came to wardrobe. In American pageants it’s all about who can find the most bedazzled and jaw-dropping outfits—the more rhinestones, sparkles, and beading the better. But these girls dressed simply. Their wardrobe was beautiful, but not outlandish. In fact, all of the girls wore the same outfit in each phase of competition. The same interview suit, the same evening gown.
At first I was a little stumped by this. But then I realized how it symbolized their unity. It was nice to see that sense of family, even in a competition; whereas the individual is so highly prized in American pageantry. Even with the same wardrobe, each girl showcased her personality and stood out in her own way.
I will always treasure my day of participation in the Nisei Week Festival in Little Tokyo. It was an honor to learn more about Japanese American culture and it was wonderful to be welcomed with such open arms. If you ever have the chance to visit during Nisei Week, I highly recommend that you immerse yourself in the culture because you will walk away with a new appreciation for a culture built on community—I know I did.
The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook