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

education en

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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culture en

Persimmon and Frog: Reading a Kibei-Nisei Tacoma Artist's Journey

In 2014, I had visited Tacoma artist Fumiko Kimura in order to profile her for a retrospective exhibition at Tacoma Community College. Kimura’s story and artistic journey fascinated me. When I met her, she was a Kibei-Nisei artist in her 80s. Last year, she celebrated her 90th birthday. She is a Kibei who did not experience wartime incarceration, who began her professional life as a chemist before transitioning into artmaking, who pursued an artist’s life successfully in addition to marriage and motherhood, who combined Western and Japanese art making techniques freely, and who co-founded the Puget Sound Sumi ...

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community en

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

Learning From the Issei Grandfather I Never Met

“What you are feeling is grief,” says the article from Harvard Business Review. And yes, living in COVID-19 in Washington State, March 2020 feels like a kind of grief, even though I have grieved before. But the waking up to a profoundly altered reality each day, each wave a fresh infusion of loss, or a looming reminder of losses to come—grief feels like an appropriate description.

Honestly, the way that I dealt with grief in the past was to avoid. I avoided through hyperactivity, through overachievement, anything to avoid feeling grief. Learning the skill of grieving has really taken ...

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community en

‘Working With Communities And The People’: A Conversation With Yonsei Pastor Karen Yokota Love 

For a layperson, picturing a call into ministry might look like a voice from on high, literally calling someone to their service.

It wasn’t like that for Reverend Karen Yokota Love, who is a Yonsei pastor serving the Blaine Memorial United Methodist Church in Seattle, Washington. In 2019 she was appointed the church’s first woman senior pastor in its 116-year history.

“[Going into ministry for me] was also about doing justice work,” Reverend Karen says now. “If we think about with Martin Luther King [Jr], …He was a pastor, a minister, right? And that basically was all about ...

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community en

Giving with Gratitude: The Nisei Student Relocation Commemorative Fund

“They were at a picnic in New Hampshire,” says Jean Hibino. Her Nisei parents were UC Berkeley students during World War II, and though they were imprisoned at Tanforan and then Topaz, their time in camp was brief. Thanks to the National Japanese American Student Relocation Council, which operated from 1942 to 1946, Hibino’s parents and close to 3600 other Nisei college students were able to leave camp in order to finish their college education, many in the Midwest and on the East Coast. Eventually the Hibinos found “other Japanese American expats” on the East Coast, as Hibino calls ...

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