Voices of Chicago

The articles in this series were originally published in Voices of Chicago, the online journal of the Chicago Japanese American Historical Society, which has been a Discover Nikkei Participating Organization since December 2004.

Voices of Chicago is a collection of first-person narratives about the experiences of people of Japanese descent living in Chicago. The community is composed of three waves of immigration, and their descendants: The first, about 300 people, came to Chicago around the time of the Columbian Exposition in 1899. The second, and largest, group is descended from 30,000 who came to Chicago directly from the internment camps after World War II. Called the “ReSettlers,” they created a community built around social service organizations, Buddhist and Christian churches and small businesses. The third, more recent, group are Japanese nationals who came to Chicago, beginning in the 1980s, as artists and students and remained. A fourth, non-immigrant, group are Japanese business executives and their families who live in Chicago for extended periods, sometimes permanently.

Chicago has always been a place where people can re-create themselves, and where diverse ethnic communities live and work together. Voices of Chicago tells the stories of members of each of these four groups, and how they fit into the mosaic of a great city.

Visit the Chicago Japanese American Historical Society website >>


war en ja

Hiroshima Story - Part 2

This is a story told by Sachiko Masuoka about living through the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

>> Part 1

That night (the 7th), mother came home late in the evening and told us about the death of my younger sister, who was 14 years old. She was at the school grounds for the opening ceremony at the nearby junior high. The school was near the epicenter. After the bright lightning flash (pika), the surroundings became dark. While one wondered what to do, the flash came again. At that time, everyone was around, so it was a relief that she did not ...

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war en ja

Hiroshima Story - Part 1

This is a story previously told by Sachiko Masuoka about living through the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

I would like to welcome all of you. Thank you for the introduction. My name is Sachiko Masuoka. I would like to speak to you as I remember my experience when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima 63 years ago.

At 8:15 a.m. on August 6, 1945, we were all lined up for the morning ceremony, as all Japanese schoolchildren do. At that moment, the bomb was dropped. When I heard the sound of the explosion, I looked up at ...

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community en


You never know your fate or your path in life, yet somehow I feel we cannot avoid reflecting upon our own lives and making some decisions that are influenced by our ancestors’ bitter memories in their lives, trying not to repeat their mistakes, or else following their will, even unconsciously.

My grandmother, Asano, was born in California in 1914. According to my mother, Masumi, it was in Gurendora (グレンドラ), presumably Glendale, near Los Angeles. Her parents were Yoshinosuke and Yoshie Saitoh. My great grandma, Yoshie, came to America to marry Yoshinosuke, traveling two months by ship. When she met Yoshinosuke ...

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media en

A Conversation with Tatsu Aoki

Tatsu Aoki remains a prolific artist, composer, musician, filmmaker and educator, contributing to and enriching Chicago’s cultural scene.  He works in a wide range of musical genres, ranging from traditional Japanese music to jazz to experimental music. His primary instruments are the bass and the shamisen lute.

He is also an accomplished experimental filmmaker. His biological father, Wahei Hoshino, was a movie producer at Shin Toho Movie Studio in the 1960s and was the reason that Tatsu got into small gauge film making. He studied experimental film making at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and currently ...

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identity en

Guiding Force

Looking back into my life, I have noticed that a certain invisible hand has always supported me. I am not talking about the economics term of Adam Smith, the “invisible hand,” that describes the self-regulating nature of the marketplace. The invisible hand that I am mentioning here is a guiding force that opens doors for me. Help is offered to me when I am in trouble. Something leads me to the right direction, when I am lost. Opportunities are coming to me, rather than catching them. It is something more than that I am a lucky guy. I feel that ...

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