グウェン・ムラナカ

(Gwen Muranaka)

Gwen Muranaka, English Senior Editor, has been with The Rafu Shimpo since 2001. Prior to that, she worked in Tokyo at the Japan Times where she still contributes the weekly cartoon “Noodles.” She attended UCLA where she received a BA in English literature and also studied one year at Waseda University. Muranaka started in community newspapers as assistant editor at the Pacific Citizen.

Updated July 2020

community en

CHANGING MINDS ON MENTAL HEALTH - Young Nikkei lead the way in new initiative on mental health at 341 FSN

“Part of our mission is to spread the idea that mental health is something applicable to everybody,” says Ty Tanioka of Changing Tides, a new organization now hosting an art exhibition at 341 FSN in Little Tokyo.

“Mental health is something that everyone can practice. Everyone deals with stress in their everyday life on an everyday scale.”

At the opening on Feb. 9, the small space on First Street was packed with people who came to see the works of art. The artists are multigenerational, with Sansei like Nancy Uyemura and Mike Murase contributing works, alongside young Nikkei like Moet ...

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culture en

A Balancing Act - Tales of Clamor is daring examination of redress era in intimate setting

In the first moment of Tales of Clamor, Kennedy Kabasares, dressed as a Japanese immigrant, clambers up two cloth silks. Suspended in air, he rises and falls, over and over, as government agents try to pull him down.

There are moments of grace and peril, noise and quiet, and catharsis in the production at the Aratani Black Box, the inaugural show for this intimate setting.

Just walking through the backstage area to the seating is a new experience. The audience, limited to 80 per performance, is onstage with the performers, who play multiple roles. A trapeze, aerial silks, as well ...

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identity en

Family Quest - Part 2: Searching for Kimiko

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Joy and sorrow as a son reunites with his biological mother after more than six decades.

To my family both new and old …

Last summer, Terry Weber sat down at the computer in his North Torrance home to write a letter to the family of Kimiko, his birth mother, who gave him up for adoption in Japan when he was two months old.

He writes:

“Now that I know the circumstances of my being adopted, I have no bad feelings for my mother, Kimiko. I only wonder if she is okay.

I would also like her to ...

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Family Quest - Part 1: Searching For Tetsu

From Kashiwa, Japan to North Torrance, a remarkable 30-year quest to reconnect and find lost family.

Naoko Shimamura and Terry Weber were meant to find each other. It just took more than 30 years.

How the cousins were reunited is a tale of luck and good fortune, but also a story of remarkable tenacity. Of how family is lost and then found. A journey that spans from Kashiwa, Japan to a typical Japanese American home in North Torrance. Ultimately it is how the heart can expand and welcome new family members, and how at long last, a mother and son ...

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community en

Treasure Hunters: Takachizu on Los Angeles Street seeks to record community memories and mementos.

Walking into the Vida Group Building on South Los Angeles Street, I couldn’t help but sense the ghosts of the past. In the grey building next door,  paperboys rolled up copies of the day’s newspaper and hopped on bikes, Mrs. Hotta welcomed visitors into the lobby while reporters took smoke breaks on the street.

Rafu has moved twice since that time, but the memories remain powerful. The neighboring Vida building is now home to Takachizu (translation: treasure map), a gathering space for Little Tokyo community members to share memories and mementos. As you enter, white dots painted on ...

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