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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Waves of Pandemics and the Prewar Japanese Canadian Community

The 1918 influenza epidemic swept the world for two years, infecting 500 million people and killing approximately 50 million. The outbreak first infected World War I soldiers on the battlefield, and the pandemic occurred as the soldiers returned home from the war zone, spreading the virus all around the world. Canada was not an exception, and nearly 50,000 Canadians died.

Meanwhile, racism against Japanese immigrants seemed to have toned down during the war (1914-1918). This was partly because Japan’s warships had guarded the Canadian west coast shoreline from German warships based on Yap Island, in compliance with the ...

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Giant Pigeons Carry Messages of Love and Gratitude in Toronto

TORONTO — Sisters Emmie and Lisa Tsumura have been using art to share messages of gratitude and love in Toronto and Ajax during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Emmie, an artist working in illustration and graphic design, has been creating giant pigeons and placing them around Toronto. These works of art carry messages of thanks to essential workers, especially those in often thankless jobs, such as grocery store workers, sanitation workers, delivery drivers and migrant farm workers.

Lisa, a kindergarten teacher in Ajax, created a learning garden accompanied by one of Emmie’s giant pigeons outside her classroom. The garden is a tangible ...

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Japanese Canadian Art in the Time of Covid-19 - Part 3

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Who were/are the Japanese Canadian culture makers of yesterday, today, and beyond this era of Covid-19?

One name that I have heard from my earlier days is Toronto’s Nobuo Kubota, Governor General’s Award, et al. a former teacher at the Ontario College of Art (now Ontario College of Art and Design) who is often grouped with Kazuo Nakamura (Royal Canadian Academy, born in Vancouver, October 13, 1926 - April 9, 2002), a founding member of the Toronto-based Painters Eleven group in the 1950s and Takao Tanabe (1926 - ), Order of Canada, Governor General’s Award, et ...

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Japanese Canadian Art in the Time of Covid-19 - Part 2

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Reflecting on the art of Yvonne Wakabayashi, second-generation artist Miya Turnbull (daughter of Alberta potter, Marjene Matsunaga Turnbull), and Barb Miiko Gravlin, each of their works has a place in the unravelling narrative of the Japanese Canadian Covid-19 story.

It is humbling to think that here are three generations of Japanese Canadians artists who continue to work at this most difficult time.

Looking at the art that Miya, Barb, and Yvonne are creating with a CoVid-19 lense then, what can be a more powerful expression of these times than Miya’s startling face masks? As a public ...

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culture en

Japanese Canadian Art in the Time of Covid-19 - Part 1

How do worldwide issues of crisis like a World War or pandemic affect the way artists work?

While I am not aware of any Japanese Canadian artists who were active early in our settlement of Canada, one American Nisei sculptor Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988) born in Los Angeles, California, is certainly one of the best known sculptors anywhere. His father was the well-known poet, Yone, and his mother the educator-writer Leonie Gilmour (1873-1933) who edited much of Isamu’s writing. Although little is made of the times he was born into, Isamu lived through the Spanish Pandemic of 1918, World War ...

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