Nima-kai

Are you a Nima*?

Nima are members of the Discover Nikkei online community called Nima-kai. Join our community and share your stories about the Nikkei experience. Click an icon on the map to connect with Nima around the world!

*The term “Nima” comes from combining Nikkei and nakama (Japanese for “colleagues”, or “fellows”, or “circle”).

Nima of the Month

TWATADA (Ontario, Canada)

Terry Watada is a Japanese Canadian author and poet. He has been sharing his stories on Discover Nikkei since December 2017 and has written on a variety of topics including culture, actors, politics, and racism. His poetry was also featured in Nikkei Uncovered: a poetry column in November 2019.

We asked him what he liked about Discover Nikkei and this is what he said:

I like Discover Nikkei because it points to and brings to light the common experiences of Nikkei. No matter where Nikkei live, what they do, or what they believe, we all have similar if not the same experiences. We celebrate traditions in the same way, in food, dance, music, ceremony, observances and customs. We share a culture and definitely a history. It makes me feel connected in many tangible and intangible ways.

There are differences, of course, accounted for by the fact that we live in different cultures. Certainly that plays into our approach to situations and attitudes. In Canada, for example, the Nikkei are more dispersed (mainly because of government edict during WWII) than most. Consequently, there is no visible J-town. There are cultural centres, churches and community organizations, however, they are not concentrated in one area. The majority of third, fourth, etc. generation Nikkei tend to reject Nikkei culture: they avoid festivals, institutions and events; they don't eat Japanese or Japanese Canadian food; they out-marry and tend to be negative about their own kind.

There is no sense of community as a result.

In rectifying the situation, Discover Nikkei allows us to learn about each other. To accept and even celebrate the Nikkei ideal. Back in time, I was surprised to find that wise and worldly activists like Bill and Yuri Kochiyama didn't know about the Canadian internment. Bill confessed to me that “You [Canadians] had it a lot worse off than we did.” Instead of having to tour across the US and even Canada, speaking and singing about the Canadian Nikkei experience back in the Redress days, I could’ve directed people to the website. Or at least, use it to enhance wherever I was appearing.

Discover Nikkei then is a treasure-trove of information and opinion about being Nikkei. My only hope is that it continues well into the future and its readership expands exponentially.

Read Terry’s stories >>

Meet more of our Nima of the Month...

Nikkei Heroes: Trailblazers, Role Models, and Inspirations

Read the Nikkei Heroes >>

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A project of the Japanese American National Museum

Major support by The Nippon Foundation