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

The word “hero” can mean different things to different people. 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? How have they influenced your Nikkei identity or your connection to your Nikkei heritage?

We invite you to submit your stories, essays, and other prose works. Subjects must be Nikkei or have some meaningful connection to the Nikkei community. Authors may submit multiple entries. Submissions will be accepted from May 1 until September 30, 2019, at 6 p.m. PDT. 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.

For more information, visit 5dn.org/heroes.


Check out these other Nikkei Chronicles series:

#1: ITADAKIMASU! A Taste of Nikkei Culture
#2: Nikkei+ ~ Stories of Mixed Language, Traditions, Generations & Race ~
#3: Nikkei Names: Taro, John, Juan, João?
#4: Nikkei Family: Memories, Traditions, and Values
#5: Nikkei-go: The Language of Family, Community, and Culture
#6: Itadakimasu 2!: Another Taste of Nikkei Culture
#7: Nikkei Roots: Digging into Our Cultural Heritage

identity en

A Moment in Time

As I gazed upon my mom’s old wooden hand mirror, I found that time has not been kind to my face. There were noticeable lines across my forehead, wrinkles around the corners of my mouth and dark spots of old age.

Whenever I held my dad’s old broken wrist watch against the windowpane, I noticed that time had stopped at 10:30 a.m. The face on the watch was made of glass which was dome shaped and tinted yellow with age. The numerals on its face were from 1-12, 13-24 by the hour and 5-60 by the ...

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war en

The Hero I Never Met

My hero Is my late father-in-law Yoneto James Nakata. He was the father of my wife, Mary Nakata. She asked me to research her father’s life as she never knew him because he died when she was only six months old.

Over a period of 30 years, I came to know him through the few documents that Mary had. Yoneto Nakata was born in Sanger, California on November 25, 1918 to immigrants from Hiroshima, Japan. They worked in the San Joaquin Valley as farm workers, picking fruits such as grapes and peaches. But in 1925, his parents along with ...

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community en

A Full Immersion in Today’s LA (Area) Japanese American Community

Being of only Japanese ancestry and growing up in the South Bay (Torrance) I have never questioned whether or not I belonged to the Japanese American community. My generational identity is that I am Yonsei (fraternal) and Shin Nisei (maternal), which put me in situations where I am more “Japanese” than my Yonsei friends, but not “Japanese” enough to really be a Nisei.

The social outlets that I found myself participating in within the JA community was playing basketball, doing Girl Scouts, and dancing hula. Although I do not practice Buddhism, a family summer tradition has always been to go ...

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Hakujin Heroes

“Nikkei Heroes,” the theme of the JANM's Discover NIkkei project, to capture stories about Japanese American trailblazers, role models, and inspirations has featured many Nikkei heroes from the Issei to current generations Many of the stories are about people who would never consider themselves as trailblazers or role models.

I previously wrote about some of my heroes such as Senator Daniel Inouye, George “Joe” Sakata, and my father, Bill Hosokawa. While searching my memories of my childhood at Heart Mountain Relocation Center and afterward, I have memories of “Hakujin Heroes” such as Ross Wilbur and Pauline Lynam.

* * * * *

It had ...

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war en

Brigadier General Kendall J. Fielder: Champion of the Nisei in World War II

A few years ago, my wife and I visited the Punchbowl Cemetery in Hawaii in search of her grandparents’ grave. At the visitor’s center, we were met by two Japanese American (JA) World War II veterans. When I mentioned we were searching for Brigadier General Kendall Jordan Fielder’s grave, one of them responded, “Oh! He saved our bacon several times during World War II.” Without Fielder’s influence in the early days of World War II, the fate of nearly 160,000 people of Japanese descent in Hawaii, might have been drastically different.

In November 1938, “Wooch,” a ...

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