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 2019

kateiio (California, United States)

Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Kate Lio has contributed several articles to Discover Nikkei as a volunteer writer and recently interview Mark Nagata of the Japanese American National Museum’s exhibition Kaiju vs Heroes: Mark Nagata's Journey through the World of Japanese Toys.

Kate’s father was born in Japan and her mother in Taiwan. She has an older sister and two dogs. Currently, she is studying at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She aspires to build a strong relationship between the US and Japan by cultivating a future of understanding between one another’s culture to create long-lasting relationships.

What do you like about Discover Nikkei and why?

What I love most about Discover Nikkei is its global inclusivity of a group of people that often becomes forgotten or left out in our history. It draws attention and awareness through their articles, interviews, and various other resources, creating a greater widespread understanding of these groups. As a writer for Discover Nikkei (DN), I really enjoy interviewing these figures in our community and analyzing their stories to develop a unique piece to share with readers.

I also really appreciate the accessibility of the website and activeness of our writers. There are so many articles to choose and read from that covers every aspect you could think of within the culture. Every article published provides such a fresh, unique perspective that I feel like I am always constantly learning something new about the community. I am very proud to be a part of the DN writing community and am excited to continue contributing to this great community.

Read Kate’s articles >>

January 2019

gasagasagirl (Pasadena, California, United States)

Naomi Hirahara considers herself a Nisei han—her mother is from Hiroshima, while her father was a Kibei Nisei. A former English editor of The Rafu Shimpo in Los Angeles, Hirahara is the Edgar Award-winning author of the Mas Arai mystery series, which features a crime-solving Japanese American gardener who survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. She has also written and edited many other fiction and non-fiction books and articles featuring Nikkei topics and characters.

Hirahara has been a Nima since 2005, and has contributed numerous stories to Discover Nikkei since 2007. Currently, she pens Killer Roll, her seventh serial exclusively for Discover Nikkei; prior serials have ranged from murder mysteries to romantic comedies. Her most recently completed serial, Trouble on Temple Street: An Office Ellie Rush Mystery, featured a character first introduced in published novels. Hirahara was previously selected Nima of the Month in September 2014.

Killer Roll is your seventh exclusive serial for Discover Nikkei. What is special about publishing your stories on the site?

I can be a hundred-percent Nikkei in my stories and unabashedly integrate ethnic specific topics like baishakunin, strawberry growing, Little Tokyo and okonomiyaki.

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

It's been fun to see non-Nikkei wade into the Discover Nikkei waters. I'm glad that they can enter in through either a mystery and rom-com serial; I hope they will hang around enough to learn about Japanese American culture and history.

Read Naomi’s stories >>

December 2018

Linko (Tennessee, United States)

Linda Cooper (Linko) was raised by a Japanese mother and a Southern father in a suburb of Memphis, Tennessee. Her father was a US Army veteran and her parents met and married in Japan during the aftermath of World War II. Linda is a communications consultant and freelance writer with more than 30 years of experience as a public relations practitioner, US Senate press secretary, and journalist.

Having written articles for Discover Nikkei starting in 2013, her bi-cultural background as a daughter of a war bride raised in the American South gives her a unique perspective to speak about Nikkei and American identities.

You have contributed to several of the Nikkei Chronicles series. What do you like about these themed series?

As a writer, the Nikkei Chronicles speak very much to my heart. The themes give me an opportunity to reflect on my bi-cultural heritage and my uniquely American life. Both of my parents have passed away, so the series offers an occasion to remember, memorialize, and honor them by sharing my family’s experiences. The articles also allow me to highlight and pay tribute to the wonderful friendship I share with my best friend of more than 45 years through our similar backgrounds and experiences.

Why is it important to share diverse stories about cultural identity, and in particular, mixed-race identity?

I think it’s important to share the history behind the more than 30,000 Japanese women who emigrated from their home country to the US in the aftermath of World War II, as the brides of US military personnel. My best friend Brenda and I, as their bi-cultural children, often struggled to assimilate as Americans. However, in all of my articles, I strived to showcase what is best about both cultures, and how we are often not so different from one another. In a time of much division in the US over issues such as immigration and race, I feel strongly that sharing our experiences and stories about diversity and mixed race can help bridge cultural divides.

Read Linda’s articles >>

November 2018

masayukifukasawa (Brazil)

Masayuki Fukasawa first started contributing to Discover Nikkei in 2009 with articles about Japanese Brazilians. Fukasawa himself emigrated from Japan to Brazil in 1992 and is a veteran journalist and Japanese language editor at Nikkey Shimbun, a bilingual newspaper in São Paulo.

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

[EN] In general, one’s identity in large part is shaped by the country in which he or she grew up. But, Discover Nikkei is trying to connect Nikkei identities across borders. I don’t think there has ever been an attempt like this. I feel that in such an effort, the essence of what it means to be Japanese or Nikkei gets clarified or distilled through the filter called world history. Perhaps that’s the Nikkei that this site tries to discover. It might turn out to be something that the Japanese in Japan had never imagined before. As a fan, I want to see what they’ll find on the way.

Read Masayuki’s articles >>

[JA] 普通、その人のアイデンティティの多くの部分は、生まれ育った国の影響が強い。ところが、ディスカバーニッケイは、国境を超えて、日系意識の横のつながりを広めようとしている。このような取り組みは、かつてなかったように思う。この試みによって、日本人、日系人という存在のエッセンスが明確化される、もしくは、日本人を世界史という蒸留機の中でエキスにしたものが立ち現れてくるのではないか、という気がする。それがきっと、このサイトがディスカバーしようとしているニッケイ性なのではないだろうか。それは、日本の日本人の想像を超えたようなものになるかもしれない。それをじっと、一ファンとして見守っていきたい。

深沢正雪さんの記事を読む >>

October 2018

jsunada (California, United States)

Mary Sunada taught in the Los Angeles Unified School District for 36 years. She is a member of the Orange County Buddhist Church, Japanese American National Museum, and the Go for Broke National Education Center. Her interests are in fishing, dancing, and traveling with family and friends.

Mary has been a Nima since 2014 and has contributed to several Nikkei Chronicles series include Nikkei Names (2014), Nikkei Family (2015), Nikkei-go (2016), and Nikkei Roots (2018). Her submission for Nikkei Names was voted a Nima-kai favorite! We asked her a few questions about the importance of Discover Nikkei.

Why is it important to you to share stories about your family, especially your father, on Discover Nikkei?

I am a daughter of a World War II US Army veteran who served in MIS (Military Intelligence Service). My father passed away when I was six months old. He was only 29, and my mom was 21. As I was growing up, Mom did not talk much about Dad. I only had a few old photos of him. My mom did save his military documents, an old address book, a Japanese/English dictionary and the American flag presented to her upon his death. My passion for knowing more about my dad grew into writing stories about and for him. These stories on Discover Nikkei were a platform for me to preserve his memory, to share my emotions with others, and to comfort me from time to time.

You have contributed to several of the Nikkei Chronicles. What do you like about the themed series?

These stories from Discover Nikkei have been about okage sama de, “because of you, I am.” This theme of family is important to me because it reveals who I am and where I came from. I began to realize that I was learning more about myself by researching my father’s documents, finding his living relatives, and traveling to Japan with the help of my husband, John. All my strength, loyalty, gratitude, and love came from my parents. I would not change any part of my life. I owe all that I am or will be to my ancestors before me. I am an essential part of them, and they will always be an important part of me.

Read Mary’s articles >>

Nikkei Roots: Digging into Our Cultural Heritage

Read the Nikkei Roots stories >>

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