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This painting presents various things in my life that contribute to my sense of Nikkei identity in some way.

Orizuru: my sister and I used to fold origami cranes when we were younger. I've also folded some at work. We also folded them for both my sister's and my weddings.

ozoni: this is the traditional mochi soup that Japanese eat on New Year's Day. My mom makes it every Oshogatsu morning, and I can't really imagine not starting the new year eating it.

Hello Kitty: I grew up with Hello Kitty stuff. I remember having stationery and other items from when I was in elementary school in the 1970s and onward. Whenever we came to Little Tokyo to visit my grandmother, stopping at the Sanrio store was a must!

daruma: I've always seen them around, but I don't think I had one until after I started working at JANM. Then, I started using it as a motif in some of my artwork and craft projects.

Check Nikkei: this frame actually is based on my Kazoku painting. I've been using the 4th generation image from that painting as my profile icon for a long time, and so I thought it was the most appropriate imagery to represent me in my "self-portrait"

bowling: My parents met through bowling, and they bowled in a Nisei league with a lot of my aunts and uncles every Friday night at Holiday Bowl. I now continue that tradition by bowling in a Nisei league every week.

sakura: Ever since they planted sakura (cherry blossom) trees in Little Tokyo, it's become one of my favorite flowers. Not just because I like how they look, and the epheremal, poetic sense that embodies them, but also because of the ties to J-town and my Uncle Harry. On our first anniversary, my husband and I went to the National Cherry Blossom Festival in DC, and our first trip to Japan was in April so we could see the trees in bloom there.

spam musubi: I love to eat, and I love the simplicity of spam musubi. It's just rice, spam, and nori (seaweed)...comfort food that reminds me of potlucks and obons.

Namida no Request: When I was in junior high school (in the 1980s), my sister, cousin, and her best friend really got into J-pop. This was when records were still being sold on vinyl. "Namida no Request" by the Checkers was one of our favorite songs.

Check Nikkei—A Self Portrait, acrylic on canvas, 2012

Vicky K. Murakami-Tsuda

vkm — Last modified Jun 30 2015 7:53 p.m.

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