Nima of the Month

Nima are members of our Discover Nikkei Nima-kai community. Our Nima of the Month are some of our most active participants. Learn more about them and what they like about Discover Nikkei.

February 2021

ctrooks (California, United States)

Curtiss Takada Rooks is a 1.5 generation Nikkei, born in Japan to a Japanese mother and African American father and shares life experiences with Sansei. He is Program Coordinator of Asian Pacific American Studies and Assistant Professor at Loyola Marymount University whose research addresses ethnic and multiracial community and identity. He serves on the US Japan Council Board of Directors and Japan America Society of Southern California’s Board of Governors.

Curtiss was the principal investigator of The Nippon Foundation/JANM Global Nikkei Young Adult Research Project (2020), and will be presenting the research findings at the “What Does It Mean to Be Nikkei in 2021?” event. He was previously a panelist on Discover Nikkei’s 2008 program, “Revelations & Resilience: Exploring the Realities of Hapa-ness.”

Curtiss has also shared some essays on Discover Nikkei about being mixed race, and most recently a poem written with his daughter for the Nikkei Uncovered poetry column.

What do you like about Discover Nikkei?

I love that DN connects me with Nikkei young and old, in the US and around the globe. Through the stories of family and community I find myself feeling connected to a truly global Nikkei community. As an academic I find the oral histories, stories, and articles enlightening. Yet, I most enjoy the creative writing and in particular the poetry in Nikkei Uncovered. The mastery of images, symbols, and power of language touch me deeply. Through these creative works I am able to feel the ways in which the writers live their lives and through them understand better my own experiences.

Read his stories >>

January 2021

erikmatsu (Chicago, Illinois, United States)

Erik Matsunaga is a Hapa Yonsei whose family originally settled in California, but resettled in Chicago after World War II. He has shared stories about his family, projects to map historic Japanese American neighborhoods in Chicago, Nikkei martial artists, and other articles about the Chicago community. He curates @windycitynikkei—“Bite-sized Glimpses of Japanese American Chicago”—on Instagram.

Erik was recently featured in the second episode of Nima Voices and previously selected as Nima of the Month in January 2014.

Why do you feel it’s important to document the history and stories of Japanese Americans in Chicago? Are you working on any more Chicago Nikkei projects?

The Chicago Nikkei community is geographically dispersed and institutionally waning. My interest lies in leaving documentation behind for my children to know their place within this unique history. I mostly write about things I want to know, things that I haven’t read or seen anywhere else. Currently I am working on a map of the Uptown/Edgewater settlement from the 1940s to the 1970s.

What is the most meaningful thing that has happened as a result of your connection to Discover Nikkei?

So many! Having made new connections within the Chicago community; former Chicagoans having been inspired to send in their stories in after having long since moved elsewhere; being invited to speak on a Chicago NPR affiliate’s radio segment about local extinct Nikkei neighborhoods; collaborating on Chicago’s first historic Lakeview Japantown walking tour; speaking at the renown Newberry Library about postwar resettlement patterns in Chicago; and being interviewed on a YouTube live session by the one and only Naomi Hirahara! All of these are the result of DN’s openness in sharing stories.

How did you like being our featured guest on the Nima Voices episode?

It was a bit nerve wracking being live and recorded, but fun! The DN team really made everything seamless with excellent prep and advice on what to expect. Thanks Vicky, Yoko & Joy for the opportunity, and to Naomi for gently keeping me on topic as I rambled on and on and on. Although unable to catch them while remaining focused at the same time, I appreciated all the live stream comments and shout-outs by the viewers.

Read his stories >>

Watch Nima Voices: Episode 2 >>

December 2020

milestone (British Columbia, Canada)

George Doi was born in a small mining town in British Columbia, Canada. At the age of nine, he and his family were uprooted and moved to Bay Farm, a remote internment camp where they remained for 4 years. Now 88 years old, he still has sharp memories of those times and the hardships endured there.

George submitted the story about his virtual “walk around the world” as part of the More Than a Game: Nikkei Sports special series, and we’re now in the process of publishing his 4-part story about his family’s experiences before, during, and after World War II. The first two parts are already online, with the last two sections to be published in the next few weeks.

What do you like about Discover Nikkei?

I was first introduced to Discover Nikkei by my friend, Norm Ibuki. I especially enjoy reading about the Nikkeis in USA and South American countries and noting the differences/similarities that were used towards our imprisonment. I feel that our stories need to be told and not buried. The younger generations must be kept informed and educated about those times while there are still first-hand story tellers to tell their stories, and to this end, Discover Nikkei is playing a vital role.

Read his stories >>

November 2020

luisiguchiiguchi (Lima, Peru)

Luis Iguchi Iguchi (luisiguchiiguchi) is a Nisei from Lima, Peru. He has contributed to the newspapers Peru Shimpo and Prensa Nikkei, as well as the magazines Nikko, Superación, Puente, and El Nisei. He was founding president of the Nisei Jauja Club.

He began contributing articles to Discover Nikkei in September, and we have already shared five stories—including four for More Than a Game: Nikkei Sports (and one more coming soon). We look forward to sharing even more in the future!

[EN]
What do you like about Discover Nikkei?

Participating in Discover Nikkei has been a very pleasant and didactic experience. It’s been pleasant because I feel like I’m surrounded by friends from different parts of the American continent. And it’s didactic because I’ve seen how the histories of Japanese communities are being preserved in an open and safe way for Nikkei and non-Nikkei people alike around the world.

It has been a wonderful way for me and many of my friends to learn about Discover Nikkei. As a Nikkei, I feel that the story of our forefathers should live on through time. From being immigrants who didn’t understand the language to finding a way to support themselves in formal ways. I think that these are examples for the newer generations, so they can directly see that life without sacrifice is false, deficient, and has no value for society. Hard work and honor are the values they instilled in us from childhood. And we are there, the examples of our parents’ effort.

Read his stories (Spanish only) >>

[ES]
¿Qué es lo que te gusta de Descubra a los Nikkei?

Participar en Discover Nikkei ha sido una experiencia sumamente agradable y didáctica. Agradable porque se siente uno rodeado de amigos de distintos lugares del continente americano y didáctica por conocer cómo las historias de las colonias japonesas quedarán preservadas de forma abierta y segura para el público nikkei y no nikkei del mundo.

Ha sido maravilloso para mí y muchos de mis amigos conocer Discover Nikkei y siento que, como nikkei, la historia de nuestros padres tiene que perdurar en el tiempo. De ser inmigrantes sin conocer el idioma, a tener un sustento en donde formalizar su vida. Y pienso que el ejemplo a las nuevas generaciones es darles motivos para entender que la vida sin sacrificios es falsa, pobre y sin ningún valor para la sociedad. El trabajo y la honradez son los valores que nos inculcaron desde nuestra niñez. Y ahí estamos como ejemplo de lo que hicieron nuestros padres.

Lea los articulos de Luis >>

October 2020

fukuda (California, United States)

Keiko Fukuda (fukuda) is a Shin Issei freelance writer living in Southern California. She has been sharing her stories on Discover Nikkei since 2008, primarily interviews with a wide variety of Shin Issei and some Shin Nisei about their experiences living in the United States.

Keiko served on the 2018 Nikkei Chronicles #7—Nikkei Roots editorial committee. She was previously named Nima of the Month in May 2011.

[EN]
Why do you feel it’s important to continue sharing your stories on our site? What other stories would you still like to write?

I’ve lived in the U.S. for 28 years now. I’m a so-called Shin Issei. I can see myself and the community I live with an objective eye when I write stories about Nikkei, including the Shin Issei like me, and their culture. Also, I want the voices of Nikkei abroad to be heard as much as possible, as I’m concerned about the current, extremely introverted Japan—a country which once sent a great number of people to the American continent. I want to take advantage of the nature of Discover Nikkei being an online medium which can be accessed from anywhere, even by Japanese people living in Japan. I’d like to continue writing about the life of Nikkei and how they approach life in America, as they share their racial heritage.

What is the most meaningful thing that has happened as a result of your connection to Discover Nikkei?

I’m very happy when Japanese media reach out to me and say they want to interview the people I wrote about for Discover Nikkei or when I get requests from readers asking for details about the places I introduced in my essays, those related to Nikkei culture, because they say they want to stop by during their next visit to Los Angeles. These are the moments when I truly realize that my stories have reached people. I also feel blessed to have years of relationships with the people who have let me interview and write about their life.

Read her articles >>

[JA]
Q. ディスカバーニッケイへ寄稿しづつける意義はなんですか?また、今後どのようなストリーを書きたいと考えていますか?

渡米して28年になります。いわゆる新一世です。私のような新一世を含む日系人や日系文化を取材することで、自身の姿や暮らす社会を客観的に捉えることができます。さらに、かつて北南米に多くの移民を輩出した日本が現在は非常に内向き志向であることに懸念を抱いていることから、日本に住む日本人にもオンラインメディアとしてどこからでもアクセスしてもらえる特性を生かし、海外に暮らす日系人の生の声を少しでも多く伝えたいと考えています。今後も、彼らにとって同じルーツを持つ日系人がどのような意識を持ってアメリカで生活しているのかを引き続き取材していきたいです。

Q. ディスカバーニッケイへエッセイをシェアすることで得た最も有意義なことは何でしょうか?

ディスカバーニッケイに取材執筆した人物を日本のメディアから改めて取材したいとの連絡を受けたり、また同じく私のエッセーで紹介した日系文化に所縁のある場所を次回ロサンゼルスに訪れた際に立ち寄ってみたいので詳細を教えて欲しいといったレスポンスをいただくと「私の書いた記事が人々に届いている」ということが実感できてとても嬉しいです。さらに、取材させていただいた方とのご縁が何年経っても続いていることに、心から感謝しています。

彼女のエッセイを読む >>

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Major support by The Nippon Foundation