The sport of bowling boomed in the 50’s. The American Bowling Congress (ABC) was high in command with millions of members… millions of caucasian members. Thus, Nikkei bowling associations across the states were created because of the minority segregation rules at the time. Pioneers such as Hiroto Hirashima from Hawaii, Masao Satow and Fuzzy Shimada have helped break those rules creating local and national Japanese bowling associations.
The Southern California Nikkei Bowling Association was formed in 1955 to service the local Nisei bowlers in the area due to the caucasian only rule of the American Bowling Congress (ABC). Some of the pioneering members were Tai Kajimoto, Tom Sakamoto, Yas Minamide and Nob Kagawa. Amazingly the primary members of the association were produce managers and gardeners. The organization, which was run with a separate men’s and women’s board, merged into one functioning unit in 1998.
The Southern California Nikkei Bowling Association continues to increase the general interest in the game of bowling within the heritage of the Japanese culture and community allowing its members to foster and encourage the spirit of good fellowship, keen competition, and sportsmanship in all its bowling activities.
Inducted: 1997 ABC Hall of Fame
Shimada devoted his career to leadership of the sport within his ethnic group. A strong bowler who was barred from ABC membership because of the Caucasian-Only rule, Shimada was instrumental in promoting the sport to Japanese-Americans. He shared his knowledge as an instructor and promoter throughout California and helped organize the National Japanese-American tournament where he won 13 titles in 43 years of participation. He has five top 10 ABC Tournament finishes and three times won the Northern California BPAA match play crown.
Los Angeles, CA
Inducted: 1994 ABC Hall of Fame
Satow is regarded by his peers as the individual who worked the hardest and accomplished the most for Japanese-American bowling in the U.S. He overcame World War II internment and played a major role in establishing the national championship for Nisei bowlers in 1947. When interest in the event waned as non-whites were admitted to ABC membership in 1950, Satow led the drive to save it and helped guide it for 25 years. Now the event is under the direction of the Japanese-American Bowling Association.
Inducted: 1995 ABC Hall of Fame
Hirashima was a Japanese American civil rights activist who was pivotal in obtaining equal rights and privileges for his fellow Japanese American bowlers, as well as other minorities, at a time when non-caucasians were ineligible for American Bowling Congress (ABC) membership. He led the sport through difficult times in Hawaii and eventually became the first minority ABC Director in 1963. With ABC’s racial barrier finally removed in 1950, Hirashima organized nine teams of Nisei bowlers for the 1954 ABC Tournament in Seattle, the first Japanese-Americans to compete in the event. ABC invited him to become more involved in activities and eventually he was elected an ABC Director in 1963, becoming the first minority to serve on the board.
Born in Kaneohe, Hawaii, he was inducted into the Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame by Governor Ben Cayetano in 1997.