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

food en

Eggplant Zucchini Okazu (Okazu Nimura-Style)

When Josh and I were in college and just learning how to live together, we also had to figure out how to cook together. It didn’t take long to find our go-to multicultural meal plan: chicken, vegetables, rice (Asian nights!). Or, chicken, vegetables, pasta (Italian nights!). We had lots of variations: stir-fry chicken teriyaki chicken, BBQ chicken, chicken cacciatore. For vegetables: salad, steamed broccoli. For carbohydrates: rice or pasta.

Every once in a while, we’d break out of the routine and splurge on some ground beef, and we’d make okazu.

In Japan, okazu is just a name ...

Read more

identity en

The Retelling: Talking To The National Parks Service About Tule Lake

QUESTION 1: WHAT DO YOU VALUE MOST ABOUT THE TULE LAKE UNIT? 

Struggle. Struggle. I obeyed essay questions all the way through my multiple degrees in English. I want to answer the question well. I want to be a good student.

Begin by quoting the prompt.

The Tule Lake Unit is where my family was incarcerated during World War II: where my father, his siblings, my grandparents, lived for several years. I value the Unit because it formed a significant part of my family’s life experiences, and in turn it formed mine.

I want you to think about what ...

Read more

identity en ja es pt

Nikkei Chronicles #2 — Nikkei+ ~ Stories of Mixed Language, Traditions, Generations & Race ~

Snapshots from a Nikkei/Filipina Album

“Your mother is Filipina?” my friend’s mom asks me. She’s Filipina, too. She shakes her head, and smiles, not unkindly. “You look more Japanese.”

* * * * *

My first and last name are Japanese. None of my names are Filipina. But then there’s the color of my skin, which in the Pacific Northwest is “a nice tan.” I know how to make turón, lumpia, and adobo. I can make chicken teriyaki “from scratch,” with a closely guarded family recipe. I could order my way through a Goldilocks’ lunch counter or a teriyaki lunch menu. I went to Buddhist and ...

Read more

war en

Speaking Up! Democracy, Justice, Dignity

Of No-No Boy and No-No Boys: At the Seattle 2013 JANM Conference

“How do you as a storyteller account for traces of the erased, the denied or that flat out vanished?”—Junot Díaz

From Twitter: 
July 15, 2013, 12:35PM: @Tulelakenps: Today, 70 years ago in 1943, Tule Lake was declared a Segregation Center, incarcerating all Japanese Americans deemed “disloyal”.

“Your name?”

I’m picking up my registration packet for the Japanese American National Museum conference, held in Seattle a few weeks ago. “Nimura, N-I-M…” I begin, and start to spell out my last name for the volunteer automatically, but then I stop. She’s already flipping through the packets and ...

Read more

identity en

For a Sister Getting Married: Senbazuru—1000 Cranes

“What are those?”

I’m staying overnight with my daughter and her friends on a field trip. My daughter’s best friend is looking at the ziploc bag of paper, sitting on the hotel bedside table.

“They’re origami cranes. You remember the story of Sadako that you read in your class this year? If you fold a thousand, you get a wish?”

“Yeah. Can I look at one?” When I nod she takes one out of the bag, carefully. “They’re cool.”

“I’m trying to fold a thousand for my sister’s wedding. It’s a Japanese American ...

Read more