Tamiko Nimura

Tamiko Nimura is a Sansei/Pinay writer, originally from Northern California and now living in the Pacific Northwest. Her writing has appeared or will appear in The San Francisco Chronicle, Kartika Review, The Seattle Star, Seattlest.com, the International Examiner (Seattle), and The Rafu Shimpo. She blogs at Kikugirl.net, and is working on a book project that responds to her father's unpublished manuscript about his Tule Lake incarceration during World War II. 

Updated July 2012 

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The Secret “American Japanese” Garden in Seattle

On the way to downtown Seattle, there’s a freeway sign advertising a tourist attraction that’s always intrigued me: “Kubota Garden,” it says. I asked my friend, native Seattleite and Beacon Hill boy Omar Willey about it. “You’d know about it if you went to St. Paul school, which was the next block up,” he tells me, “but you could drive up Renton Ave. for years and never see it.” After years of living in the Pacific Northwest, I finally got to go see what the garden was all about. I wasn’t disappointed.

The Kubota Garden is ...

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Little Kunoichi Is Kid-Tested, Kid-Approved

A children’s book about a tiny ninja girl—do I need to say anything else? There are tiny watercolor ninjas hiding among cherry blossoms and scaling castle walls. There’s a marvelously detailed “I Spy” matsuri (festival) scene, filled with onigiri, taiko drums, sumo wrestlers, and characters from Japanese fairy tales. And there’s a family pet ninja bunny.

Overall, Seattle author and illustrator Sanae Ishida has been overwhelmed by the positive response to her book Little Kunoichi, published in April 2015 from Sasquatch Books. Inspired in part by a now-defunct Seattle store named Tiny Ninja, Little Kunoichi is ...

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The Feast that Makes a Family

There’s gravel crackling under our car wheels as we drive up my Auntie Nesan’s driveway. After we come to a stop, my husband Josh and I unbuckle our two little girls out of the backseat. We walk up to the house, trailing blankets and stuffed animals, and I tap on the screen door.

“Happy New Year! Come in!” my eighty-something aunt answers cheerily. After hugs and exclamations (“the girls are getting so big!”), we ask if we can bring anything over to Auntie Sadako’s house, about a hundred feet away. We leave carrying a platter of barbecued ...

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‘How Does Anybody Become An Artist?’: An Interview with Allen Say

Renowned writer and illustrator Allen Say has authored over 15 books, mostly for children. Though he may be best known for his picture books for young readers, including the Caldecott-winning Grandfather’s Journey, he’s also begun to write hybrid memoir/graphic novels. The first of these, Drawing from Memory, tells the story of three crucial years in his life as he was becoming an apprentice to a famed cartoonist in Japan. The sequel to this book, The Inker’s Shadow, was just released in September 2015. It reviews the three crucial years after Say came to the United States ...

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Piecing Together the Past: Restoring a Japanese American Bath House

At one end of the porch of the Neely Mansion there’s a pile of broken bottles, ceramic shards, muddy pieces of metal. About twenty yards away, there’s a charred piece of wood attached to a small house. I am thinking about a conversation I’ve just had with Linda Van Nest, president of the Neely Mansion Historical Association, who has taken me on a short tour of the house. “What’s that Japanese word,” she asks me, “when you are taking the pieces of something broken and making them whole again?” “Kintsugi,” I say.

“Ahhh, yes,” she says ...

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