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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George Freeth, the Village of Maikura, and the 1918-1920 Pandemic

In December 1908, at the age of 25, the “father of surfing” George Freeth saved the lives of nine Japanese American and two Russian American fishermen off Venice beach when a violent Pacific storm lashed the coast. For his heroic actions, Freeth was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for bravery.

In April 1919, at the age of 35, the Hawaiian-born Freeth—noted for his physical fitness and still in his prime—died after a long battle with the flu virus spreading across the globe. He was the first person to surf the Huntington Beach pier at its re-dedication in 1914 ...

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Food for thought — and sheltering at home

Anyone who knows me knows that I love to eat. I’m a foodie. I love restaurants (I’m opinionated about them, too). And, I love to cook. I post photos of my food on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, and even use the hashtags “#twEATs” and “#foodporn.”

I like all food from around the globe, from burgers and pizza to Middle Eastern, Italian, Swedish (thank you, Ikea!), Ethiopian, Mexican, Argentinian, South Asian, Vietnamese, Korean, Filipino and all flavors of Chinese including American Chinese. I’ve even eaten candied ants and cooked crickets. My gastronomic motto is “if someone somewhere on ...

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The Importance of Place: The Manzanar Pilgrimage and COVID-19

Like so many events these days, the 51st annual Manzanar Pilgrimage was cancelled on Thursday, April 17 due to COVID-19. For the first time, the Manzanar Pilgrimage, a tradition that brings former incarcerees, activists, and scholars together, will not be held on the grounds of the Manzanar Concentration Camp. The pilgrimage’s organizing group, the Manzanar Committee, announced in its press brief that while the decision was difficult, “the health and well-being of our community, particularly our elders, is most important, and cancelling is in everyone’s best interests.”

For Bruce Embrey, the co-chair of the Manzanar Committee, the move ...

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How Little Tokyo, Los Angeles is approaching community-led recovery through arts and culture

Longtime residents will tell you that Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo almost died in the 1990s. Lasting physical and psychological scars lingered from unjust incarceration during World War II, and the city’s planned Civic Center expansion threatened to further dissolve trust and resident control in the historic neighborhood. Facing a long and uncomfortable history with outsider-led policies and redevelopment, many Japanese American residents had been forced out of Little Tokyo and were not returning.

The COVID-19 crisis threatens to devastate the neighborhood once again. Its eateries, boutiques, and small businesses are struggling to stay afloat amid an unprecedentedly challenging small ...

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Energizing Or End Times For a 117-Year-Old Publication

This is how I go cover a story now. I put on a cloth mask and wash my hands, grab my recorder and put an LAPD press badge around my neck. A while back, photographer Mario Gershom Reyes and I covered Hideki Obayashi of Azuma in Gardena as he fights to keep the restaurant going.

Even with masks on, you can see the strain, exhaustion and worry in his eyes. His wife Genie Nakano stopped by with a tin box of cookies. Our hands are all worn, chapped and dry from constant washing. Places where we meet are now empty ...

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