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Mikko Hagot Henson is memorable for introducing Japanese culture to the United States.

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Mikko Hagot Henson of Redondo Beach, who devoted her life as a bridge between Japan and the United States, died on June 20th. She was 85 years old.

Born in Tokyo in February 1937, she was the youngest daughter of Shiro Arimoto, the founder of Shibaura Institute of Technology in Tokyo.

Mikko Hagot Henson

In 1962, Henson participated in a two-week immersive English program in Karuizawa. Ben Hagot, a resident of Torrance, was the instructor. He sponsored her to come to the United States to go to her school in 1964. Three years later, they got married.

Shortly after settling in Torrance, Henson began to seek to preserve the flowers and establish himself as an artist. Her work, “The Art of Preserved Flowers,” has been exhibited in many places, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Nature (1968) and the LA County Botanical Gardens. Her work has also been featured in news such as Channel 7 (1975) and newspapers such as: Los Angeles Times (1969) and Daily Breeze (1974).

In 1960, many Japanese companies began to set up offices in the Torrance area, resulting in an influx of Japanese families. Since Henson grew up in Japan during World War II, he realized that there were many misunderstandings between the two countries and was culturally aware that people could live in harmony through mutual understanding. I thought it was necessary to increase. Therefore, she started volunteering to introduce Japanese culture in the area, visited elementary schools and gave lectures to students.

She created a section of Japanese books in the Torrance Library in 1975. In 1980, in collaboration with the Torrance Unified School District and the City of Torrance, Henson hosted a 10-day intercultural educational event for all fourth graders. As a result of her efforts, she was recognized by Torrance as the “Volunteer of the Year” by the National Recreation & Parks Association in 1980.

Mikko Hagot Henson brought Japanese performing arts to the United States and helped establish the Torrance Kashiwa Sister City Program.

In 1973, Henson helped establish a sister city relationship between Torrance in Chiba Prefecture and Kashiwa City. She founded the Torrance Sister Cities Association, became the first president in 1976, and established many annual programs, including student exchange cultural festivals and the dispatch of English teachers to Kashiwa, which continues to this day. Under her leadership from 1976 to 1990, the Torrance Sister Cities Association has received eight awards from Sister Cities International and is considered a model sister city in the United States.

Henson has been recognized for community volunteering, including the 1986 South Bay YWCA Woman of the Year, the 1988 Woman in Torrance History, and the 2002 Sydney Jared Torrance Award (the city’s highest honor). Has won several awards over the years. 2009 Torrance Regional Chamber of Commerce and Japan Chamber of Commerce Friendship Award.

From 1978 to 1984, she worked as a Curriculum Associate in the USC Curriculum and Education Department and as an evaluator for the Bilingual and Bicultural Teacher Certification Test.

From 1980 to 1982, Henson worked with the UCLA School of Fine Arts on a special summer project that brought in prominent classical dance, music and drama masters from Japan. She also took a lesson on Hayashi (a classic percussion instrument) taught by the Grandmaster Katada Kisaku, a national treasure. This form of art disappeared in the United States after the war, and she wanted to revive it in Southern California.

After many years of training, Henson became Natori and was named Kikusa Katada from the Grand Master in 1986. He has performed, lectured and taught in various places, including the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center in Little Tokyo, and is a master artist by the California Arts Council. She received an art award from Torrance in 1987.

Mikko Hagot Henson playing a small hand drum drum.

In 1992, she founded a non-profit organization called the Japan Traditional Performing Arts Organization (www.JTPAO.org) to introduce, promote and preserve Japanese traditional culture and art in the United States. As president and musician of JTPAO, Henson received many grants and many schools. She also produced performing arts programs at the Aratani Theater in Little Tokyo and the Armstrong Theater in Torrance, inviting many well-known artists from Japan.

Henson participated in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Committee and the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Committee as a Japanese language expert and advisor. She also volunteered at both Olympic events.

In 1988, Henson became a contract interpreter for the US State Department.He was in that position and he accompanied Japanese politicians and other VIPs visiting the United States.

Due to her organizational strength, she became the project director of many events such as the 2001 10-day art exhibition “Tomihiro in LA”. Tomohiro Hoshino is a famous mouth artist and poet in Japan.Henson also worked as a project director for 100th A commemorative ceremony of the Japanese-American United Church of Southern California held in 2013. Both events required a two-year plan.

In 2007, Henson began introducing Japanese historical films produced by Hyundai Prodaku, such as “Modern Prodaku and Angel’s Piano,” “Thank You, Papa Ishii,” “Before Dawn,” and “Nostalgia of Hometown.” All proceeds from this film project were donated to charities such as the Little Tokyo Service Center, Torrance’s special education school, Keironering Home, and the Japanese American United Church in Southern California.

In 2010, Henson established the Arimoto Memorial Scholarship Fund at the University of California, Irvine, to honor his father and encourage young Japanese to study in California. She supported more than 20 students with a scholarship to participate in a three-month study program at UCI.

In 2016, Henson published a book in Japan entitled “Saints of 61 and Yasuko”. She has a history of Japanese immigrants to Los Angeles for 10 years, and of Joyx Moto and his adopted daughter Grace Kusmoto, who founded an orphan house in Los Angeles 100 years ago and an orphan house in China 80 years ago. I studied the story. Japanese community in Southern California. She gave as much lectures as possible to introduce this moving personal story.

In 2017, she was named “Woman of the Year” by the Japanese American Citizens Alliance (JACL) and the Japanese Women’s Association in Southern California, recognizing her lifelong dedication to fostering US-Japan relations. rice field.

Henson became a naturalized citizen in 1977, and her husband Ben Hagot, Vice Chairman of the Metropolitan Water District, died in 1982. She remarried veterinarian Barry J. Henson in 1985. He died in 2020.

Henson was working on 50 when she diedth Anniversary of the Torrance-Kashiwa Sister City Program celebrated in 2023.

The survivors are: My sister, Chieko Endo. Niece, Atsuko Ogawa and Keiko Wada. Nephew, Tomohiko Endo; Nephew, Tatsuo Inamasu, Fumio Inamasu. My niece, Mikako Inamasu. Niece, Eriko Arimoto and Yumiko Arimoto. My sister-in-law, Noriko Arimoto. Niece, Konomi Yagi, Kurumi Arimoto, Megumi Arimoto. Former sister-in-law, Yoko Arimoto. Stepchildren, Tolan Henson and Vincent Henson. Stepdaughter Andrea Henson; Sister-in-law, Kendra Juliet Sponsel; Stepdaughter, Sharynne Klein; Stepdaughter, Keirin Klein Garland.