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

Second Hand War Stories

In the 17 years I was able to spend with my grandfather, Herbert Seijin Ginoza, he rarely told me about himself. Most stories I heard were told second hand, by my father or great-aunts and uncles. But the stories I heard, I remembered. He would have been reluctant to be called a hero, but to me, that’s what these stories made him. When he died, I worried that his stories would die too. That’s why, one afternoon in the middle of a power outage, I sat down to interview my father, Otis Ginoza, and to record his version ...

Read more

sports en

The ‘Mightiest Duck’ of Them All, Paul Kariya

ANAHEIM, Calif. — In 1992, Walt Disney Pictures released the first in a trilogy of sports comedy/drama films called, The Mighty Ducks. A year later, Disney founded the NHL franchise team The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

With its inception at the 1993 NHL Entry Draft, the team selected their first ever pick, a young talented Japanese Canadian from North Vancouver, B.C., Paul Kariya. He was fourth overall in the draft and playing for the University of Maine. This would queue the opening scene to a dramatic hall of fame career. Following a World Championship gold medal and Olympic Games ...

Read more

identity en

My Hero: Setsutaro Hasegawa

By the time I was born in the early 1960s, the long shadow of World War Two was starting to fade. The 1950s and ’60s saw wave after wave of immigrants arrive in Australia but almost no Asians or Japanese. The white Australia policy still prevailed and if the colour of my skin was anything to go by it succeeded, however I still had my Japanese name.

My father was born Raymond Taro Hasegawa, son of Leo Takeshi Hasegawa and grandson of Setsutaro Hasegawa (ST Hasegawa), a Japanese immigrant to Australia who had arrived in 1897 prior to federation and ...

Read more

community en

Unsung Heroes of the Japanese Canadian Internment

In present day Canada, the high profile Nikkei we hear of so often are people like David Suzuki, Joy Kogawa, Muriel Kitagawa, Thomas Shoyama, Santa Ono, Raymond Moriyama, Art Miki, Mary and Tosh Kitagawa, and athletes like Paul Kariya (hockey), Nathan Hirayama (Rugby 7), Vicky Sunohara (Olympic hockey), Special Olympic skier Brian McKeever and the Hall of Fame Vancouver Asahi baseball team (1914-1941).

From 1942-1949, during the forced relocation from the B.C. coast beyond the 100-mile radius east to various internment camps, who were the unsung heroes? This is my list.

Nikkei Women:

When the federal government of Canada ...

Read more

community es

Mi oba, ¡qué mejor inspiración!

¿Quién me inspira a ser mejor? Creo que mi oba. Aunque hasta ahora, no sé cómo ella hacía para luchar contra los problemas, salir adelante y ayudar a los demás. Y, como si fuera una heroína, nunca esperaba nada a cambio.

Mi oba tenía 92 años cuando falleció y yo, 9. ¡Había más de 80 años de diferencia entre nosotras! Y creo que eso le daba cierto “halo” de misterio a mi oba. Nunca me contó sobre su historia. Apenas soltaba comentarios espontáneamente, de cuatro o cinco palabras, que ...

Read more