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

The word “hero” can mean different things to different people. For this series, we have explored 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 solicited stories from May to September of 2019, and voting closed on November 15, 2019. We received 32 stories (16 English; 2 Japanese; 11 Spanish; and 3 Portuguese) from individuals in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Peru, and the United States.

Here are the selected favorite stories by our Editorial Committee and the Nima-kai. 


Editorial Committee’s Favorites

Nima-kai selection:

To learn more about this writing project >>


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

war en ja es pt

My Father Was A Tule Lake Resister

I will forever admire my father’s strength and bravery. Despite the incredible challenges he endured during World War II as a young internee in America’s incarceration camps, he lived his life with passion and perseverance.

My father was born in Santa Ana, California on June 6, 1921, to immigrant parents who operated a successful celery farm. When he was five-years-old, he and his parents moved back to Japan to care for his ill grandfather, where he spent the rest of his childhood. Many years later, my grandmother would tell me how smart and studious he was, and that ...

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community en ja es pt

My Hero: Kiyoshi Kuwahara

Over time, my concept of who is a hero has changed substantially, and the people I admired for their accomplishments and virtues when I was a girl are not the same people I admire today. Thanks to Pioneros (Pioneers), a database of Japanese immigrants in Peru (1899-1941), for the first time I was able to obtain information about my grandfather, Kiyoshi. This eventually led me to obtain my grandfather’s Koseki (Japanese family record), and as a result I developed a clearer image of the person who I now consider my hero: my grandfather, Kiyoshi Kuwahara.

My childhood was spent ...

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community en ja es pt

Miyoko Fujisaka, 95 years old – Our Heroine

Miyoko Fujisaka was born in Osaka on September 24, 1924. The third daughter of Sadakichi and Kuri Kawauchi, she came with her family to Brazil, aboard the ship La Plata Maru, arriving at the port of Santos on January 9, 1933.

The family was then sent to work on a farm in the northwestern region of the state of São Paulo, where they planted and harvested coffee and cotton.

While her parents and two brothers worked in the fields, the girl Miyoko stayed at home, taking care of her little sister and doing the housework.

In 1941, following the ...

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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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