Nakano Sensei Receives Jokun Medal of Honor!
In April 2009 our chief instructor, Helen Michiyo Nakano, was awarded the "Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette" medal from the Emperor of Japan. This medal is the highest award given to a non-Japanese citizen in recognition of work that advances the study of Japanese culture.
"Ms. Helen Michiyo Nakano was born in Seattle, Washington. When she was eleven years old, Ms. Nakano and her family moved to Los Angeles, California. She graduated from Manual Arts High School and attended El Camino College in Torrance.
Ms. Nakano has contributed to international goodwill, and Japan-U.S. goodwill in particular, through the dissemination of Naginata (long-handled sword), an ancient martial art of Japan.
With her efforts as a member of the formation commemoration committee, the International Naginata Federation was established in 1990 in Japan. She has been vice president of the Federation since 2002. As a principle exponent of naginata in the United States, she was instrumental in introducing and spreading Naginata to the global community. Throughout the years, she ensured that the Federation emphasized the training and guidance of younger generations, taking every opportunity through various international activities to promote the educational development of younger people in naginata. Through activities such as these, she greatly contributed to the promotion of international goodwill.
As co-founder of the United States Naginata Federation, Ms. Nakano has poured her energy into teaching naginata throughout the country and was instrumental in developing the Southern California Naginata Federation in 1974. She has served as president of the United States Naginata Federation and president of the Southern California Naginata Federation.
In the U.S., Ms. Nakano helped establish naginata dojos (practice halls) in Nebraska, Florida, and Arizona, where she stressed the training of the younger members. At these dojos, she, herself participates in training students. As one of Naginata’s early pioneers in America, she consistently promoted naginata through friendly sports exchanges with Japan. She has been teaching naginata at El Camino College since 1998. It is the only college accredited naginata class in the U.S.
Ms. Nakano is an active member of many organizations, serving as the first female president of the Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute in 1990 and continuing to serve on its board of directors. Through social and cultural activities, she selflessly promotes friendship between Japan and the U.S. through naginata. The Japanese American community holds Ms. Nakano in high esteem, not only for her contributions to society, but also for her gentle personality."