Bobby Okinaka

Bobby Okinaka is the Web Editor for Discover Nikkei. He grew up on military bases around the world but now calls Los Angeles home. After graduating from UCLA with a degree in East Asian Studies, he taught English in Wakayama, Japan for three years. In his spare time, he produces an online Asian American talk show called Fresh Off the Box and another site on Japanese fashion and pop culture called Tokyo a la Mode.

Updated December 2007

identity en

Their Pride - Filmmaker documents the story of Black Japanese in Georgia

Yohei Suzuki is a 30-year old documentary filmmaker based in New York, NY. In 2006, he produced and directed Our Pride: The Spirits of Black Japanese in Georgia, a documentary about families where the father is Black and the mother is Japanese and their children are both. The story touches upon bi-racial identity in a culture that is almost exclusively Black; a perspective that has rarely been touched before.

The documentary has screened at several film festivals including the Asian American International Film Festival 2007, Washington D.C. Urban Film Series 2007 and 2008 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival ...

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culture en

Glenn Kaino - Interview with an Artist

Glenn Kaino (b. 1972) is one of the artists whose work is on display in the One Way or Another: Asian American Art Now exhibition at the Japanese American National Museum (the exhibition runs until May 4, 2008). His installation entitled “Graft” features two stuffed animals, one a salmon masquerading in shark skin, the other a pig cloaked in a cow’s hide. Simply wearing a mask is not a strong enough metaphor for social identity; here Kaino demonstrates the sometimes absurd lengths people go through to find place or acceptance.

Kaino primarily works with three dimensions, sometimes four if ...

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community en

The Okinawan Wives Club

A few years ago, I came up with an idea to make a documentary about overseas Okinawan communities. I wanted to show that Okinawans left their island home for places all over the globe, but no matter where they went, the migrants took their culture and traditions with them. I created a plan to visit places where Okinawans settled in Peru, Hawaii, Los Angeles, CA and Jacksonville, NC. That’s right, a tiny little place called Jacksonville.

For my documentary, I went as far as buying a video camera and a round trip ticket to Jacksonville. The opportunity came from ...

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community en

Memories of New Year's Celebrations

Happy New Year! What makes this holiday so special is the chance to start over again. But before looking forward, it’s nice to take a quick look back.

I thought about how I spent New Year’s in the past. As a kid, I would be allowed to stay up late and our family would watch the countdown to midnight on television. I don’t recall doing anything more special than that.

Then, when I was 14, our family moved to Japan. My father was a soldier in the U.S. Army and was assigned to a military base ...

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culture en

Book Review: Shortcomings by Adrian Tomine

When a newborn baby comes into the world, everything is a wonder. The bright lights, the strange noises, the sensation of being surrounded by tall strangers poking around overwhelm the senses. The baby enters the world a blank slate waiting for instruction. And yet, on some basic level, it already has everything it needs to know to face life. No one taught it how to blink, how to cry, how to kick its chubby legs. This is performed by instinct.

Shortcomings, a graphic novel by Adrian Tomine, is life by instinct. On the surface, the characters have been programmed with ...

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