Erik Matsunaga

Erik Matsunaga is a Chicago-born Yonsei descended of Nisei resettlers from California by way of Gila River War Relocation Center. In addition to regular contributions to Discover Nikkei, he curates @windycitynikkei – "Bite-sized glimpses of Japanese American Chicago" – on Instagram. He resides in Chicago with his wife and children and works in the steel industry.

Updated January 2020

culture en

Be Strong

Be strong, be gentle, be beautiful. In judo you need strength of mind, body, and soul. I don’t mean beauty in the external sense. A compassionate soul is inner beauty. I believe that is true beauty.
   —Keiko Fukuda

Yuriko Gamo Romer’s introduction to Keiko Fukuda came by happenstance. The San Francisco, CA-based filmmaker explains, “In 2006, Oprah’s ‘O’ magazine did a story about her. I was intrigued by this story and realized that her dojo was in my neighborhood. So I went to introduce myself. She was very happy to chat with me in Japanese, so she ...

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food en

Nikkei Chronicles #1 — ITADAKIMASU! A Taste of Nikkei Culture

Farm Food

I didn’t eat much Japanese food growing up. Born hapa Yonsei of a second generation German American mother and third generation Japanese American father who’d grown up together in the “old neighborhood” of Lakeview, Chicago, circumstances didn’t dictate much knowledge of overt Japanese customs, culinary or otherwise.

Our family emigrated from Kyushu in the early 1900s, farmers who plied their trade in California’s Central Valley, culminating in ownership of acreage purchased under the names of their American-born Nisei infants due to the California Alien Land Law that prohibited “aliens ineligible for citizenship” from owning land or ...

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culture en

Voices of Chicago

Welcome to the Writers Workshop

The Undeniables writers workshop was formed in 1999, inspired by a chapter from the novel VALLEY (Bend Press, 1998), by Mike Daily. Edren Sumagaysay and I had met the previous year in a touring theatre troupe based in Los Angeles, and got to talking about a mutual passion for writing while holed up between shows in a Maryland motel. We had both recently read Mike Daily’s then newly released novel, and wanted to host a writers workshop of our own. The first workshop was held in my apartment on 163rd Street in Gardena, CA, a two-day affair attended by ...

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