Kizuna 2020: Nikkei Kindness and Solidarity During the COVID-19 Pandemic

In Japanese, kizuna means strong emotional bonds. In 2011, we invited our global Nikkei community to contribute to a special series about how Nikkei communities reacted to and supported Japan following the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Now, we would like to bring together stories about how Nikkei families and communities are being impacted by, and responding and adjusting to this world crisis.

If you would like to participate, please see our submission guidelines. We welcome submissions in English, Japanese, Spanish, and/or Portuguese, and are seeking diverse stories from around the world. We hope that these stories will help to connect us, creating a time capsule of responses and perspectives from our global Nima-kai community for the future.

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Although many events around the world have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have noticed that many new online only events are being organized. Since they are online, anyone can participate from anywhere in the world. If your Nikkei organization is planning a virtual event, please post it on Discover Nikkei’s Events section! We will also share the events via Twitter @discovernikkei. Hopefully, it will help to connect us in new ways, even as we are all isolated in our homes.

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One Of Our Own

Many of us have spent time with folks who have gone through some catastrophic events in their lives. Hearing their stories is humbling, but now we have one of our own.

At one of our last Furutani family dinners before the “stay at home” quarantine, we went around the dinner table to recount any such events in our collective experiences and lives.

I remember as kids we had the “drop drills” and “yellow” and “red” alerts. All were related to a possible nuclear attack circa the Cold War. Remember the Cuban Missile Crisis as President Kennedy played chicken with then ...

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Quarantine in Camp: Stories of Other Pandemics

Shortly after leaving Topaz to attend the University of Montana, Missoula, Miyeko Taketa received a letter from her friend Pearl Nugent in February 1944. Nugent, the wife of Reverend Carl Nugent of Topaz’s Protestant Church, shared one interesting story that might interest readers today:

“Yesterday our seven week scarlet fever quarantine came to an end and I went shopping, free as the air, the first time I’ve been out since we returned from Topaz on Christmas afternoon.”1

While Pearl Nugent had the freedom to leave the camp regularly unlike those confined, her story of camp quarantine is ...

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EO9066 vs. COVID-19

I’ve been struggling with what more to say about the pandemic now known as the worst disaster of our lifetimes. I don’t ever remember feeling this fearful and uncertain about the future, particularly knowing as infection and death statistics grow with steady predictability, this highly contagious virus will most certainly infect someone I love, many of whom are in the dangerous high-risk age group.

In the midst of this immediate fear, I realized that most of us baby boomers and younger don’t have the first-hand experience of that other terrifying time in American history when our families ...

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COVID Ghost Town

In November 2019, I was in a US hospital for five days. My temperature was hovering around 102°F. I sweat profusely, followed by the chills. I couldn’t get out of bed without collapsing to the floor. I was dizzy, I had lost my appetite, I was extremely weak.

This was before COVID was a daily news story, though medical researchers now have speculated that the virus started around that time in Northern Italy (and not China).

I went to the Emergency Ward and the medical staff ran several tests on me. They found that my bladder, my kidneys ...

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Just 10 Weeks Ago

10 weeks ago, I joyfully drank sake and ate the best tonkatsu in Tokyo.

8 weeks ago, I toured snowy Hokkaido tasting their bounty of kombu, oysters, and uni.

6 weeks ago, I played Mahjong with my neighbors and won three rounds in a row.

4 weeks ago, I celebrated St. Patrick’s Day at the local pizzeria. Later that evening, our Governor called for a statewide shutdown.

2 weeks ago, the stock market crashed.

How the world has changed. One moment we were celebrating the first day of 2020 with Oshogatsu ryori. Cheers to a new decade of hope ...

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