Nikkei Heritage

This series republishes selected articles from Nikkei Heritage, the quarterly journal of the National Japanese American Historical Society in San Francisco, CA. The issues provide timely analysis and insight into the many facets of the Japanese American experience. NJAHS has been a Discover Nikkei Participating Organization since December 2004.

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politics en

Simple Instructions: Yoko Ono's Quest for Peace

“Who believes today that war can be abolished? No one, not even pacifists. We hope only (so far in vain) to stop genocide and to bring to justice those who commit gross violations of the laws of war… and to be able to stop specific wars by imposing negotiated alternatives to armed conflict.”  –Susan Sontag 1

The war with Iraq and the current political climate casts a gray pall over the possibility of a peaceful resolution in the Middle East. However, one artist comes to mind as a constant believer in and initiator of antiwar and anti-violence activism even in ...

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community en

The Good Fight: Betty Kano and Nina Fallenbaum

Last summer, soon after President Bush declared the war against Iraq “officially over,” I spoke with mother and daughter activists Betty Kano and Nina Kahori Fallenbaum. I interviewed Betty and Nina with the intention of presenting a perspective on “the war against war.” Instead, I was presented with the power of love.

Artist Betty Kano’s activist days go back to the Vietnam War and Free speech Movement. Though semi-retired, she continues to work as an artist, curator, educator, arts administrator, organizer and activist. All this while discovering her Okinawan roots through drum dancing and continuing to pursue her painting ...

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culture en

Thought Warrior: Shinkichi Tajiri

On December 7, 2003, on his 80th birthday, artist Shinkichi Tajiri was honored by the Dutch art world, friends and family, with the opening of a retrospective exhibition at the Valkhof Museum in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. The show encompassed more than half a century of diverse works.

At the entrance, visitors were welcomed by the latest addition to the prolific artist’s oeuvre, a lineup of 47 Ronin (based on the 18th-century tale of masterless samurai who defend the honor of their deceased master). The nearly nine-foot-tall warriors, sculpted out of foam board —part monstrous fighting machines, part hard core ...

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war en

Remembered Valor: The 60th Anniversary of the Liberation of Bruyères

“The best troops are called upon to do the hardest fighting. Whenever a general finds himself up against a tough proposition he sends for the best troops he has…A man who is being shot at daily has a hard time recognizing it as a compliment when, dead tired, bruised and battered, he is called upon to make one more effort to risk his life another time—but it is a compliment, nevertheless.”

—Colonel Sherwood Dixon, in a letter to 442d RCT Chaplain Masao Yamada, November 22, 1944

Sixty years ago, two major German supply lines ran to the western ...

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war en

Brandon Quan: A Modern MISer

When we think of the Military Intelligence Service (MIS), it is almost always in the context of the Nisei who served during World War II (NJAHS was founded by MIS veterans). Brandon Quan, however, represents a younger generation of Nikkei MIS language interpreters. By the time he turned 32, he’d already served in Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Iraq. He now understands a little more about the experiences of his forbears and much more about the world. But mostly, he’s learned about himself.

Quan grew up in the Richmond District of San Francisco. He and his younger brother participated in ...

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