Tim Asamen

Tim Asamen is the coordinator of the Japanese American Gallery, a permanent exhibit in the Imperial Valley Pioneers Museum. His grandparents, Zentaro and Eda Asamen, emigrated from Kami Ijuin-mura, Kagoshima Prefecture, in 1919 and settled in Westmorland, California, where Tim resides. He joined the Kagoshima Heritage Club in 1994, serving as president (1999-2002) and as the club's newsletter editor (2001-2011).

Updated August 2013

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Japanese Section Beautification Project at Brawley Cemetery

Shake & Bake—that is how we characterize the Imperial Valley. The temperature was almost 110 degrees on the afternoon of August 26, 2012, when a magnitude 5.5 earthquake struck. It was centered just a mile or two north of Brawley. Riverview Cemetery is on the northern edge of town and there was severe damage at the cemetery, especially in the northwest corner, which we informally call the “Japanese section.” The earthquake knocked over at least seven headstones bearing Nikkei names, and I was shocked that it caused the Buddhist Memorial Monument (Ireihi) to topple over. Seeing the tall obelisk ...

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The Ledger – An Account of Serendipity and Otagaisama

In early February 2014, just as The Rafu Shimpo was beginning to mark the third anniversary of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that struck northeastern Japan and extol the continued relief efforts of the Nikkei community in the United States, Randy Sakamoto, the historian of the West Los Angeles United Methodist Church (WLAUMC), was scanning old church documents. Among the boxes and files in his charge, he uncovered a ledger book dated 1923. The contents were written almost entirely in Japanese, but a place name written in English under several of the entries throughout the ledger immediately caught his ...

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Nikkei Chronicles #3 — Nikkei Names: Taro, John, Juan, João?

Asamen - Is it Japanese?

My name is Tim Asamen, and, yes, I am a full-fledged Sansei. I say that because my surname is so strange that it can be downright baffling to ethnic Japanese. Whenever I introduce myself to both Japanese nationals and Japanese Americans, it always causes confusion. When I say “Asamen” the usual response is “huh?” It’s even worse when some of my own family members say our name because they don’t pronounce it with a Japanese accent, so it sounds more like “Osmond” without the “d.”

Invariably I’m asked, “Are you sure it’s Japanese?” Then the inevitable ...

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Speaking Up! Democracy, Justice, Dignity

Climbing Out of the Well: My Impressions of the JANM 2013 National Conference in Seattle

If you have not taken in a Japanese American National Museum (JANM) event, be it a workshop, book reading, or some other special program, I highly recommend that you do so. The National Museum knows how to put on a good show, and everything is always meticulously planned down to the last detail. JANM’s 2013 National Conference “Speaking Up! Democracy, Justice, Dignity” held at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel, July 4 through 7, 2013, was no exception.

Some five hundred of us from across the country converged on the “Emerald City” to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the signing ...

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Will the Rafu die like my grandfather?

My grandfather passed away when I was four years old. My only memories of him are from when he was already bedridden and deathly ill. At that time, my father would take me for a ride to the post office in Westmorland every morning where we picked up our mail since we lived on a farm and there was no rural delivery. On our way home, we always stopped at my grandmother’s house to drop off her mail. As my dad sat down at the kitchen table for a cup of coffee or tea with my grandmother, he would ...

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