"Quintessential Pioneer": Korekiyo Takahashi. Born in Sendai in 1854. Arguably the first Miyagi native who set foot on the soil of America. He was only 13 years of age when he landed in San Francisco in September, 1867. Episodes of his rather short and yet eventful stay with his two host families are legendary. A prominent monetary policy maker and statesman with his career spanning the eras of Meiji, Taisho and Showa. Widely acclaimed for his ingenious monetary policies as the Governor of the Bank of Japan in the 1890s. Subsequently served the seven administrations as the Minister of Finance. Elected the Prime Minister in 1921.
"Founding Fathers": Heiya Takahashi, Jinbei Sugano, Senji Konno, Tokiji Igawa, Miura, Abe, and Sato. Conceived the idea of, and established, the Kenjin Kai in the summer of 1902. As the irony of the history would have it, information on these forebears is sketchy.
"The Savior": Kouemon Saito. Arrived in San Francisco from Sendai in 1889. Built his successful business from the ground up, while providing all manner of assistance to people from Miyagi in Bay Area for 29 years before moving to Los Angeles. Thereupon,he took it upon himself to restructure and reinvigorate the Kenjin Kai that had begun losing its leadership and impetus. Assumed the responsibilities of the president and manager and counselor all by himself for more than ten years to put the organization back on the right track. Dr. Watanabe, Dr. Sekiyama and Abe followed in his footsteps as the succeeding presidents, contributing to the further expansion of the Kenjin Kai.
"Schoolmaster": Kiyoharu Anzai. While still in his studies at a theological school in Tokyo, he decided to come to the United States and arrived in San Francisco in 1908. Opened a Japanese school in San Gabriel immediately after graduating from USC in 1913. The first teacher who taught at the Japanese school in Southern California.
"The Chronicler": Riichiro Yatsu. A USC product. Compiled and published a book entitled "The History of the Miyagi Kenjin in America", in 1933, the oldest and most authoritative compendium of the early Miyagi Kenjin émigrés in the United States. Its preface was contributed by Korekiyo Takahashi. It gives the following statistics of the Miyagi natives living in Southern California as of his compilation:
"Father of Restoration": Sueji Nishimura. Exhausted his time and efforts to breathe a new life into the Kenjin Kai that had been left nearly moribund in the chaotic 1940s. 15 members gathered to join him in celebrating the re-birth of the organization in 1949.
"Champion of Taisho Democracy": Sakuzo Yoshino (1878 – 1933), a political science scholar, was born in the town of Furukawa in 1878. Already a prodigy in his childhood, he later graduated summa cum laude from Political Science Department of Tokyo Imperial University (now Tokyo University) in 1904. He came to be widely known as the “Champion of Taisho Democracy” for his unwavering belief in, and ardent advocacy of, democratic principles in the Taisho era, as he tirelessly practiced what he preached in pursuit of his goal. His sojourn in America was brief as he passed through the continent on his way back home from Europe, but noteworthy nonetheless in the eyes of us emigrants from Miyagi. On his latter leg of journey home after a four-year stay in Europe, he sailed from Southampton, England for New York on May 28, 1913. Upon disembarking in Big Apple on June 5, 1913, he set out on a coast-to-coast travel by way of Buffalo, Chicago, St. Paul, Seattle, Portland and back to Seattle. A memorable turn of events occurred when he boarded a home-bound vessel in Seattle on June 17, 1913. He was warmly welcomed aboard by the entire crew. As it turned out, the captain and his assistant purser were both Miyagi natives, captain Sato hailing from Shiogama and the assistant purser from Nakaniida. Even more interestingly, the Nakaniida-born officer, Yoshino learned, had once boarded with Yoshino’s maternal family while he attended Furukawa Middle School. This purely coincidental encounter with someone who had had ties to his family should have come as a pleasant surprise to Yoshino. Though an entry in his diary describes the incident in an understated tone, it’s not hard to imagine how comfortable he should have felt with these “dokenjin” – folks from the same state – and enjoyed their company, as the skipper often hosted a sumptuous sukiyaki or crabmeat dinner for him to beguile his otherwise monotonous 17-day voyage across the Pacific.