Nikkei Uncovered: a poetry column

Nikkei Uncovered: a poetry column is a space for the Nikkei community to share stories through diverse writings on culture, history, and personal experience. The column will feature a wide variety of poetic form and subject matter with themes that include history, roots, identity; history—past into the present; food as ritual, celebration, and legacy; ritual and assumptions of tradition; place, location, and community; and love.

We’ve invited author, performer, and poet traci kato-kiriyama to curate this monthly poetry column, where we will publish one to two poets on the third Thursday of each month—from senior or young writers new to poetry, to published authors from around the country. We hope to uncover a web of voices linked through myriad differences and connected experience.

culture en

Japanese American Women Speak

For this month’s column, opening us into a whole new year, I’m so happy to feature healer and artist kyoko nakamaru and filmmaker Tani Ikeda, who together are co-founders of JAWS — Japanese American Women Speak. They are both based in Los Angeles, California (Kyoko via Wisconsin and Iowa, and Tani via Seattle). Both selections here are impassioned pieces by two fierce Nikkei who call on us to listen, respond and heal with the world around us.

—traci kato-kiriyama

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Kyoko Nakamaru is an interdisciplinary artist, storyteller, writer, spiritual counselor, and hobby musician who uses her relationship with ancestors and ...

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culture en

Sansei

As a younger Sansei/older Yonsei, I've been reflecting a lot on the big sisters and cousins of the Sansei generation who have raised or influenced many of us in our activism, community involvement, and understanding of ourselves as connected to others. This month, we feature pieces of generational and personal reflection from two Sansei - writer Patricia Takayama from the San Fernando Valley, and NCRR founding member, Janice Yen, who is based in Los Angeles. Enjoy!

—traci kato-kiriyama

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Janice Iwanaga Yen is a retired retailer and long-time community volunteer. She is a founding member of NCRR (National Coalition for ...

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culture en es

Honoring

This month, we are greatly honored to present a poem by renowned and beloved Peruvian poet, the late José Watanabe. In turn, his poetry here honors the 75th birthday of his mama and the indelible impact of mothers. The wonderful translation for the poem is provided by Michelle Har Kim. Joining Mr. Watanabe is a pair of poetic fragments from another the Los Angeles-based and another literary treasure, Sesshu Foster. To have two renowned Nikkei Latino writers published together in this column is something I’ve been very excited to do for quite some time now. Enjoy.

— traci kato-kiriyama

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The ...

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culture en ja

Longing

This month, we feature poetry in Nihongo (with English translation) from Tomiko Matsumoto and Gennosuke Matsumoto, who were both originally from Chiba and eventually married there, before living in Seattle and later imprisoned in the Heart Mountain, Wyoming concentration camp during World War II. Their poetry here comes through that lens—two short tales of lamentation.

—traci kato-kiriyama

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Tomiko Matsumoto was was born on August 30, 1900 in Nakano (current Kimitsu city), Chiba Prefecture, and immigrated to Seattle in the early 1920s. She and her family were imprisoned at Heart Mountain, Wyoming from 1943 to 1945. There, under the poet ...

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culture en

Little Tokyo

We have a focus on Little Tokyo as inspiration and a special triple threat treat for this month’s edition of Nikkei Uncovered. First, we have a piece from D Hideo Maruyama, based in LA and a veteran of the Asian American literary scene. Next is poetry from third generation LA native, Mike Sonksen, accompanied by artwork by his wife and Tokyo-born/LA-raised Emi Motokawa Sonksen. The literary and creative work from all three of these artists continues to make a substantial impact on the Asian American community and Los Angeles as a whole. We’re excited to include just ...

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