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Thursday, March 29, 2012

George Takei

The Sakura Award is presented once a year, at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre's (JCCC) annual Sakura Ball held in Toronto, Canada.

This, the fourth annual Sakura Ball will be held on Saturday, April 21, 2012. Man... I would love to see this, but I am sure the price of $500 a seat is a little too steep for a poor writer on Japan with 25,000 hits a month.

Still... I bet it will be an awesome event!

In the spirit of the JCCC's vision, the award recognizes exceptional contributions made by individuals to the promotion and exchange of Japanese culture and enhancing awareness of Nikkei heritage within Canada and abroad. 

The 2012 Sakura Ball will honor George Takei (born in Los Angeles, California on April 20, 1937) for his leadership in championing human rights issues and for his achievements in the arts, which have had a significant impact on how the Nikkei are viewed and accepted by the global community.

George is best known for his portrayal of Mr. Sulu in the acclaimed television and film series Star Trek (though I also love his role on an episode of the Twilight Zone television show called The Encounter). 

Enjoying a lengthy acting career, George has appeared in more than 40 feature films and hundreds of television guest-starring roles. In 2012, he will hit the New York stage in the Broadway play Allegiance; an emotional, redemptive and inspiring story of a family’s experience during the Japanese American internment.

I wanted to be Mr. Sulu and learn fencing!
In the 1960s, George was a true pioneer in the eyes of many Japanese-Canadians and Japanese-Americans because it was rare to see a Japanese face on television, particularly as a positive role model. Along with leaders such as David Suzuki and Adrienne Clarkson, George brought the face of the Asian community to a wider audience by breaking down preconceptions and fostering broader acceptance.

A tireless community and human rights activist, George serves as chair of the council of governors of East West Players, is chairman emeritus of the board of trustees of the Japanese American National Museum and is a member of the board of directors of the US-Japan Bridging Foundation. The Government of Japan recognized George’s contribution to the Japan-United States relationship when it presented him with the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette. 

Past winners of the award:
2011 - David Suzuki, co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation, award-winning scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster - and a personal hero of mine.

2010 - Raymond Moriyama CC, OOnt, ORS, FRAIC, Int.FRIBA, Hon FAIA, MCIP, OPPI, RCA, FRSA, LLD, Deng, DArch hc. - renowned architect. I have visited many of his buildings and enjoyed them immensely.

2009 - Brian Mulroney - he first recipient of the Sakura Award was the 18th Prime Minister of Canada between September 17, 1984 to June 25, 1993. His Japanese claim to fame was apologizing to Japanese-Canadians for the forced internship during the paranoid days of WWII. Mr. Mulroney apologized on behalf of the Canada in 1988. I once wore a mask of his likeness around my journalism school - no one recognized either myself or him, showing how horrible the political knowledge was of the average college student considering he had been in power for five years at that time. I had previously earned a university degree in Political Science.

Tickets for the awards gala can be found by clicking HERE.


  1. Hey you need to add "Mr. Sulu" to your labels... I met him in Las Vegas one time. That was the time I met the Smothers Brothers too! He was a nice guy!

  2. Oh, and add: WWII, Prime Minister, Nikkei, Los Angeles, Twilight Zone, the Encounter, Television show, Order of the Rising Sun, Golden rays, scientist, environmentalist, broadcaster...