By George N. Yoshida, Asian Avenue magazine

Consulate-General of Japan in Denver, Consul General Ikuhiko Ono conferred the Japan Imperial Decoration The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette to Paul Kuniaki Maruyama. The conferment decoration recognizes lifetime achievement and commitment contributing toward mutual understanding and friendship between the United States and Japan.

Maruyama is a retired Air Force LTC, and is the founder and president of the Japan America Society of Southern Colorado. Through his leadership he helped form the John Manjiro Whitfield Foundation and the Manjiro Grassroots Summits in Colorado Springs. He is the author of Escape From Manchuria (published in both English and Japanese), and is an instructor of Japanese language at the Air Force Academy and Colorado College.

Attending the ceremony were Maruyama’s long-time friends from San Jose State University—Yoshihiro Uchida, retired, and Colorado U.S. Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, retired. Uchida and Senator Campbell have also been decorated by the Japanese government with the Imperial Order of the Rising Sun. They and Maruyama all graduated from San Jose State University, and all three were on the 1964 U.S. Olympic team that competed in Tokyo—coach Uchida and Ben Campbell heavyweight, and Paul Maruyama lightweight.

Unprecedented, as it was a special occasion to meet and talk with three recipients of the Imperial Decoration, and distinguished guests including Kimiko Side (a recent recipient of the Imperial Decoration), Judge Kerry S. Hada, members of Japan America Society of Southern Colorado, and the Maruyama family.

Photos by Jon A. Yamamoto