Tamiko Nimura

Tamiko Nimura is an Asian American writer living in Tacoma, Washington. Her training in literature and American ethnic studies (MA, PhD, University of Washington) prepared her to research, document, and tell the stories of people of color. She has been writing for Discover Nikkei since 2008.

Tamiko just published her first book, Rosa Franklin: A Life in Health Care, Public Service, and Social Justice (Washington State Legislature Oral History Program, 2020). Her second book is a co-written graphic novel, titled We Hereby Refuse: Japanese American Resistance to Wartime Incarceration (Chin Music Press/Wing Luke Asian Museum, forthcoming February 9, 2021). She is working on a memoir called PILGRIMAGE.

Updated November 2020

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Falling Into Public History: My Writing about Japanese American and African American Community Stories

The following essay is adapted from a talk that I gave to the City of Tacoma Historic Preservation, Tacoma Historical Society, and Historic Tacoma in November 2020. An edited video version is available here on YouTube.

I’ve been asked to talk about my work documenting Tacoma’s Japanese American and African American history. It’s been a great privilege—and a little surprising—for me to be doing this work, which is why I called the talk “Falling Into Public History.”

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Image 1: My roots

When I talk about my writing I have to start with my roots, and ...

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Kizuna 2020: Nikkei Kindness and Solidarity During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Care Is Free: Behind the Scenes with Two Nikkei Sisters and 35 Care Packages

In October 2020, Tamiko and Teruko Nimura were asked to create a community engagement public art project for Tacoma Arts Month (a month celebrating arts and artists in Tacoma). They drew on their Japanese American heritage and created a batch of care packages which they distributed all over Tacoma, Tamiko’s hometown. Each care package had a letter describing the purpose and the contents of the package. Below is the letter.

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September 25, 2020

Dear neighbor,

It’s a rare sunny afternoon in late September—maybe one of our last for the season. After the wildfire smoke a couple of ...

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A Conversation With Aya Hashiguchi Clark on the Past, Present, and Future of Japanese American Theater

Given COVID-19 circumstances, the state of live theater in America is changing radically in 2020–but it is also changing because of the social uprisings and racial reckonings. Veteran Tacoma producer, actress, and writer Aya Hashiguchi Clark has had much to say lately around these changes, and I wanted to find out more about her perspectives.

(Side note: During our conversation, we found out that both of us had been in the play Teahouse of the August Moon as children; her in the 1960s, me in the late 1970s—which says something about the limited state of roles for young ...

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Behind the Tadaima! Scenes with Kimiko Marr of Japanese American Memorial Pilgrimages 

I met Yonsei Kimiko Marr through social media and an online network of Japanese American activists and pilgrimage organizers. The network has become so active that over the last few years, I forget that we’ve never met in person. So perhaps it’s perfect that this virtual connection led me to this conversation with Kimiko over e-mail, as she’s in the middle of a massive online undertaking in Summer 2020: Tadaima! an online series of events (both live and prerecorded) intended as a virtual pilgrimage for the Japanese American community.

According to the website, Tadaima! is “a collaborative ...

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Keywords For Being Nikkei In A Moment of Racial Reckoning

“I recognized that the heartbeat, historically, of racism, has been denial.”

— Ibram Kendi 


There are times to write normality and there are times to write brokenness. Feeling the need for something as it was—“normal”— the essay I wanted to write used a straightforward reporting style, journalism, objectivity, neutrality. This style is what we’re accustomed to as “normal.” It’s mid-2020. These times are both normal and broken, and some ways were always broken. This essay objected to the idea of objectivity and neutrality in writing. This essay insisted that it be written instead. 

Here are some of ...

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