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

identity en ja es pt

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

culture pt

Heróis: sonho, trabalho e transformação

Oh! Sonhos! Sonhos! Sonhos! Nada está finalizado pela mão humana, principalmente quando ela está doutro lado do mundo. É com essas mãos calejadas pelo tempo, pela história, que o peso da cultura transforma a terra em arte, moldando a argila, religando cada elemento até chegar ao produto final. Tudo parece pronto e acabado. Não, nada disso está terminado até porque cada peça vai ser única e a natureza fará seu retoque final.

As marcas entre o vivido, o presente e o futuro são cada vez mais fortes, elas vêm unidas como um Sísifo ...

Read more

community es

Cynthia: Mil grullas, una flor de cerezo y la fugacidad de la vida

Desde que tengo memoria, como todo aquel que nació en el Perú en los años noventa, Japón ha estado muy presente en mi vida. Cómo olvidar la primera vez que sintonicé y vi por primera vez Dragon Ball o Saint Seiya, o incluso Dekirukana o Teatro de Marionetas. El haber nacido y vivido en Jesús María, cerca del Centro Cultural Peruano Japonés, también hizo que desde pequeño me emocionara mucho por aprender más sobre esta cultura tan interesante. No obstante, no sería sino hasta un tiempo después que terminar ...

Read more

war es

Masao Iimuro: Fortaleza y ejemplo de una comunidad que superó la injusticia y la persecución

2007年に私が飯室正雄氏にはじめてお目にかかったときは、同氏のことはかなり把握してつもりである。同氏は、名古屋市出身で1940年末19歳で日本から出航してメキシコに向かったのだ。また、1942年5月に拘束された詳細な理由も、そしてその後にレクンベリのイスラ・マリア島刑務所からベラクルスのペロテ要塞に収監されたことも把握していたし、明かな起訴内容も公判審理もなく「危険外国人」として釈放される1949年まで7年間も刑務所で過ごしたということも知っていた。

アメリカ政府の一部は、20世紀初頭にアメリカに到着した日本人移住者はアメリカを侵略する帝国軍の「先遣隊」ではないのか見ており、その結果差別や迫害の対象になったのである。だからこそアメリカとメキシコは当時から1941年の戦争になるまでアメリカの諜報機関の主導で米州全土の日本人を監視し、追求したのである。

日系人と日本人を含む12万人がアメリカの収容所に移送されたことや飯室氏が収監されたことが、アメリカの日本人移住者に対する暴力的及び極端ともいえる措置の証である。だからこそ飯室氏自身の証言を得ることは、メキシコの歴史にとっても非常に重要なことであると思っていた。そしてなんとか探すことができ、インタビューをお願いしたのだがそれに対して断固として話したくないと断られてしまっったのである。しかし ...

Read more