Defining "Nikkei"

Japanese Canadian Concentration Camps Postwar Deportation Attempts Resettling in Chatham Father's Sacrifice Joining the Civil Rights Movement Chauffeuring the SNCC Leadership Navigating the movement as an Asian Photographing the movement Re-examining Identity Defining "Nikkei"

Transcripts available in the following languages:

Okay. Nikkei is really a Japanese term. Quite simply, it means a person of another country who is of Japanese descent. What it means to me in a more fuller sense is that I am bi-cultural. And that a part of me as a Nisei is hooked into Japan in a very odd kind of way, but firmly rooted in this country. Because one result of going to Japan was to realize that, for better or worse, I am a Canadian. My soul is rooted in the landscape of this country. And we talked before of land, and how much it influences who you are and what you've become and what you're a part of. So that the scale of land in Japan, which is very narrow, just small. Because it's a teeny little island, wore on me. Because I needed an expansive landscape of Canada. So if, for no other reason, I am Canadian in that sense.

But still, there's a part of me that is hooked into Japan through my parents. And probably, in a good way. Because the Japan they represent is the old Meiji era. And there are values, I think valuable values. Worthy values. That they inculcated in me, and that was a part of their life and their moral structure. You know, gaman. Ganbarru. Kizukau. Always aware of other people's feelings. All these things. To be humble, industrious. You know, simple values, but they are important. And values that are maybe not so strong now in Japan.

Date: February 9, 2011
Location: California, US
Interviewer: Patricia Wakida, John Esaki
Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum

identity value

Nikkei Heroes: Trailblazers, Role Models, and Inspirations

Submissions accepted until September 30.

Read the Nikkei Heroes stories >>

Get updates

Sign up for email updates

Journal feed
Events feed
Comments feed

Support this project

Discover Nikkei

Discover Nikkei is a place to connect with others and share the Nikkei experience. To continue to sustain and grow this project, we need your help!

Ways to help >>

A project of the Japanese American National Museum

Major support by The Nippon Foundation