Nikkei Chronicles #8 
Nikkei Heroes: Trailblazers, Role Models, and Inspirations

The word “hero” can mean different things to different people. Perhaps you have a relative, a friend, a teacher, or a colleague that you’ve always admired and looked up to. Perhaps you are an athlete who was inspired by the legendary prewar Asahi baseball team in Vancouver, who despite being smaller in stature than other local teams, won multiple championships by employing a more tactical style of play. Perhaps Mexican Nikkei Carlos Kasuga has been a role model for you in business and philanthropy. Perhaps the sculptures of Japanese American artist Isamu Noguchi moved you deeply, or the Brazilian TV personality Sabrina Sato made you realize that a career in entertainment is possible for Nikkei too. Perhaps as an activist, you often ask yourself, what would Yuri Kochiyama do?

For Nikkei Chronicles 8: Nikkei Heroes: Trailblazers, Role Models, Inspiration, we want to explore the idea of a Nikkei hero and what it means to a variety of people. Who is your hero? What is their story, and how have they influenced your Nikkei identity or your connection to your Nikkei heritage? Any types of prose writing are acceptable, as long as the subjects are Nikkei or have some meaningful connection to the Nikkei community. They can be well-known celebrities or historical figures, or they can be significant only to you. You can write about one individual, or a group of individuals, such as the Issei generation or the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. We also present this call as an opportunity to honor someone who is important to you, or who you feel deserves more recognition for their accomplishments.

All stories submitted that meet the project guidelines and criteria will be published in the Discover Nikkei Journal on a rolling basis as part of the Nikkei Heroes series. Authors may submit multiple entries. Submissions will be accepted from May 1 until September 30, 2019, at 6 p.m. PDT.


Writing Prompts with Examples

Was there someone close to you who provided a role model for how to live your life?

  • Parents or grandparents
  • Older siblings or cousins
  • Teachers
  • Community leaders
  • Veterans
  • Bosses or mentors

Was there a trailblazer in your community or profession without whom you would not be where you are today?

Is there a political or cultural figure whose achievements inspire you to pursue your own dreams, or otherwise influenced your sense of Nikkei identity?

If you are not sure whether your subject fits within our theme, please contact us at



All stories submitted for Nikkei Heroes that meet the project guidelines will be eligible for selection as the Nima-kai community favorite. Vote for your favorites by logging in and giving them a “star.” Four additional stories (one each in English, Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese) will be selected by the editorial committee. Selected articles will be featured and translated into Discover Nikkei’s other site languages.

Editorial Committee

  • English
    Dan Kwong is an award-winning multimedia performance artist/director/writer who has presented his work nationally and internationally since 1989. His first book FROM INNER WORLDS TO OUTER SPACE: The Multimedia Performances of Dan Kwong, was published in 2004, and the significance of his work is acknowledged in A History of Asian American Theatre (2006). Kwong is a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, a Resident Mentor Artist at 18th Street Arts Center, and serves as Associate Artistic Director for the LA-based multicultural performing arts organization Great Leap.

  • Japanese
    Masako Miki is the External Relations Officer (Japanese) at the Japanese American National Museum. She is responsible for marketing, PR, fundraising, and visitor experience development for the Japanese speaking community. She also works as a freelance editor, writer, and translator. Prior to coming to JANM, she worked as Deputy Editor in Chief for a Japanese community magazine Lighthouse in Los Angeles and staff editor for a Japanese contemporary poetry magazine Gendaishi-techo in Japan.

  • Spanish
    Harumi Nako Fuentes has a B.A. in Communication Studies with an emphasis in journalism from the University of Lima. She has worked at both public and private institutions – as a teacher, media analyst, editor, and publisher of several publications. She has also taken specialization courses in brand image and marketing, and has a degree in Cultural Management. Currently, she is the Communications Manager at the Japanese Peruvian Association (APJ), editor of Kaikan magazine, and a member of the editorial board of the APJ Editorial Fund.

  • Portuguese
    Andre Kondo is Japanese Brazilian, author of ten books, including The little Samurai (Honorable Mention João-de-Barro Prize and finalist of Jabuti Prize), Tales of the Rising Sun (Bunkyo Prize), and Tales of the Renascent Sun (Humberto de Campos Prize). With more than 300 literary prizes, his texts have been translated into Japanese. Post-graduated from University of Sydney, he traveled through more than 60 countries in search of inspiration for his writing. He lived in Japan, visiting its four largest islands. He is the Telucazu Editions publisher and vice president of Nikkei Bungaku of Brazil/ANBLA. He lives on literature.  


Submission Guidelines

In order to include your story in the project, please review the following instructions:  


All submissions must be related to Nikkei experiences, history, and/or culture. Articles must meet the following length, format, and languages criteria:

  • Accepted writing formats: Personal stories and essays, memoirs, academic papers, book reviews, and other prose genres. For this particular project, we are not accepting poetry or video submissions.

  • Accepted languages: English, Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese

  • Length: English, Spanish, and Portuguese articles should be about 600–1,500 words. Japanese articles should be about 800–2,500 characters.

  • Foreign words should be italicized.
    For example: My tio Frank made a bento for lunch.
  • All articles should be submitted as Microsoft Word documents. We will NOT accept PDF or printed copies.

  • Previously published works are ok with copyright permission cleared by the author, but your submission cannot be previously published on Discover Nikkei. All copyrights for the piece will remain with the copyright owner, but upon submission, permission is granted to Discover Nikkei to publish the work on our website and with any other publication (electronic or print) in collaboration with the project.

Note: If you have other types of Nikkei-related stories that don't fit within the project theme, you can still submit them! Check out our regular Discover Nikkei Journal submission guidelines.


For this series, applicants MUST submit at least 1 photo to illustrate your story.

  • .jpg or .gif files—150 dpi, at least 1000 pixels wide preferred. If you do not have the capability to resize the image, send us the large file and we will do it.

  • Only submit images for which you either own copyrights or have secured permission to use for this purpose.

  • Provide a caption and/or photo credit for each image if necessary.

  • Do not include images within the Word file. Send image files separately.


  • Submit a short 3–5 sentence bio written in the same language of the article that you are submitting.

  • Send a portrait of the author as a .jpg or .gif file at 150dpi, at least 500 pxl x 500 pxl. The photo will be cropped to a square image. If you do not have the capability to resize or crop the image, send us the file and we will crop the image for you.

  • Articles written by multiple authors are accepted. In this case, please submit a bio and portrait separately for each author.

Deadline for Submissions

The deadline for submissions will be rolling: May 1, 2019 until September 30, 2019 at 6 p.m. (PDT). Stories will be published on Discover Nikkei beginning in June, so don’t wait until the end to submit!

Multiple submissions are accepted; however we only accept email submissions.


Thanks to Jay Horinouchi for designing our logo, and our wonderful volunteers and partners who help us review, edit, upload, and promote this project!

Disclaimer: By submitting your story, you are granting Discover Nikkei and the Japanese American National Museum a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free right and permission to use, copy, distribute, publicly display and post your article and images (including your likeness, name, and biographical information) on, and potentially other publications in print or online affiliated with this project. This includes any translations of your work in association with Discover Nikkei. You, the writer, will retain copyright. Check Discover Nikkei’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy for more details.