Keiro Chats: Meet Ken!

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Name: Ken Mui
Age: 71
From: San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center, San Fernando Valley

Q: What contributes to your happiness?

Being around family and friends, whether it’s just socializing or eating dinner or lunch. We also travel with a core group of close friends, so those things make me the happiest.

What is your weekly schedule like?

I wake up between 6:30-7 a.m., and check my email and key news and events online for about 45 minutes. Then sometimes I’ll do work for San Fernando Valley Hongwanji Buddhist Temple. I currently chair the 100th anniversary fundraising campaign. The 100th celebration is in 2021, but we are starting preparation for it now.

I try to golf once every couple of weeks with my friends in Long Beach, as well as at a golf club nearby. I also try to walk five miles a day, and go to LA Fitness four times a week to use some lightweight machines to help keep my weight and blood sugar level down.

Half of the week, from Wednesday afternoon to Friday night, we drive to my youngest daughter’s house to babysit our granddaughter and grandson. I have another daughter who lives in Philadelphia with two sons of her own. We visit them every three or four months. We also like to travel a lot.

I spent a lot of time at San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center. Within the organization, I coached the girls’ basketball team, and then they recruited me to be the president for the San Fernando Valley Japanese Language Institute. Then I went on the community center board for a number of years, and ultimately became president.

I also am part of the Yonsei Basketball goodwill team, traveling to Japan. I’ve been on the board for 23 years, and am retiring after this year in September.

What do you look forward to each week?

Looking forward to seeing my grandchildren. My 4-year-old granddaughter likes Jamba Juice, so when we go to lunch, we get the fruit bowls, and we also buy lunch at Vons next to that. It’s not healthy but I like the fried chicken, so we share that. She likes the lemon capellini, so she eats 90 percent of that and I get her leftovers. 

And I look forward to getting up every day. My health is fairly stable, but I could have a healthier lifestyle. I also like to go to the beach a lot. I go to the Manhattan Beach Pier, and relax at the beach because it’s cooler than the valley.

What contributes to your happiness?

Being around family and friends, whether it’s just socializing or eating dinner or lunch. We also travel with a core group of close friends, so those things make me the happiest.

I also enjoy watching professional sports. I have seasontickets to watch the Clippers play.

I get a sense of happiness when I can contribute to various organizations that I have been involved in over the years. It makes me happy when I can add value.

But I also want to do what I want to do, when I want to do it. I want to spend more time with my family, my kids and grandkids. Family and friends are most important to me.

Has your definition of happiness has changed over time?

I think the core has been the same: family and friends. But when I was going through my career, it was hard to balance between overcommitting for work and less on family. I think that’s the biggest change.

I retired when my close friend was diagnosed with lung cancer. I was able to make up my mind then because I wanted to spend more time with my friend to travel more.

What three things sustain your quality of life?

Seeing family and friends. And I try to eat healthy and do my exercising. It’s sort of the same as other answers, but helping the various [community] organizations — right now primarily the San Fernando Valley Hongwanji Buddhist Temple.

Are there any barriers or challenges that prevent you from having your desired quality of life?

My stubbornness, as far as not being able to live a healthy lifestyle at the level I want, but that’s just me.

Do you have any goals right now?

For me, to spend as much time with my grandkids as I can.

That’s one thing my daughter uses as reverse psychology. She doesn’t say, “don’t eat this, don’t eat that,” but she says, “Dad, you want to eat that, that’s your choice. But if you don’t want to be here when Zachary graduates high school, that’s your choice …” So, she’s using that approach, which is pretty effective. (laughs)

What is your biggest accomplishment?

I can’t take 100 percent credit for this, but it’s being married to Priscilla for 43 years, and jointly creating two wonderful daughters who are great people. That’s the goal for all parents, for your children to grow up to be good people, and we were very fortunate. And all the grandkids.

What is it in your life that most influenced the way you live today?

Hmm … the one thing, I guess I have to say my parents. My parents were Kibei, so they had a strong Japanese value and cultural background that definitely influenced who I am today.

The Japanese values, not to say the other nationalities don’t have similar values, are very specific in my opinion. Family, that’s one key aspect, and respect for elders, and respect for everyone basically.

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