(April 29, 2010) The Government of Japan announces the recipients of its Spring 2010 Decoration. Mrs. Masako Takiguchi of Phoenix, Arizona, former Chairperson of the Himeji City Committee of Phoenix, will be awarded with The Order of the Rising Sun, Silver Rays.
Mrs. Masako Takiguchi was born in Seattle, Washington. She is 78 years old currently. She stayed in Seattle until age nine, when her parents took her and moved to Wakayama Prefecture, Japan in August 1941.
After World War II, in September 1956, she came back to the United States. In Los Angeles, she began working at a private company. Married in July, 1958, she quit her job and moved to Arizona.
In 1976, the City of Phoenix, Arizona and the City of Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture establish sister city ties. Mrs. Takiguchi served as a committee member of the Himeji City Committee of Phoenix, putting special effort into the smooth running of exchange programs between the Phoenix and Himeji and eventually becoming the chairperson from 1991 -1993.
She played all variety of coordinating roles during the visits of official delegations to and from Phoenix and Himeji. Truly she was the invisible strength for these missions, working constantly and tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure their success.
In 1987, an idea surfaced, that to make a tighter relationship between Phoenix and Himeji, an authentic Japanese garden should be built. Upon learning of this, Mrs. Takiguchi immediately approached people in many different fields to create an organization for the purpose of realizing this garden.
As vice chair in the organization, she played such roles as fund-raiser, negotiator and coordinator. Mrs. Takiguchi has hosted Himeji city officials, and the Himeji Construction Contractors Association members from the start of the project to the present day.
Finally, in 2002, the City of Phoenix Japanese Friendship Garden – Ro Ho En – was completed, and it was possible to present a genuine, traditional Japanese Friendship Garden to the citizens of Phoenix.
After the completion of Phase I construction, Mrs. Takiguchi has continued working for the development of the garden in subsequent phases, most recently the Sei Chin (purifying place of the west) restroom which was added in 2009. She continues to work on the completion of two more buildings, the Entry Building and the Viewing Pavilion.
In addition to Vice Chair, Mrs. Takiguchi’s work in maintaining Ro Ho En’s smooth operation, she proactively organized regular events to introduce Japanese culture through tea ceremony, the “Strolling in Yukata” event etc.
Also, as a Planning Committee member of Arizona’s largest Japanese cultural event, “Matsuri,” Mrs. Takiguchi actively introduced Japanese cultural offerings and promoted Ro Ho En as a traditional Japanese garden. She has greatly contributed to Japan-U.S. cultural exchange.