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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community en

Growing up Asian in Louisiana

I remember seeing an old black and white picture of my Japanese grandmother. We called her Momo. I would guess the year is 1960 or ’61. She’s wearing a belted dress of a soft floral print, little heels, tiny spectacles perched on her nose, and sporting a fresh perm in a short stylish cut. She’s standing quite prim and proper-- on the bank of the bayou, holding a long cane pole, waiting for the catfish to bite, and ready to fling that poor creature up on the grass behind her.

This is a tale of two images: being ...


culture en

Picturing the Philippines

Today, Nikkei culture is as mobile as a newly-sown seed catching wind—any given location could be a potential homestead. The East and West coasts are like parental roots, foundations of communities in which Japanese Americans have found sustainable livelihoods. The Midwest and South populations are slowly on the rise. And the Japanese diaspora extends beyond US soil. For independent photographer Neal Oshima, planting himself in the Philippines has become more than a place of residence, it has become an inspiration.

Neal Oshima grew up in New York’s vibrant art scene in the 1950s and early 1960s. At the ...


identity en

The Spirit of African Peru

Almost every day, as she walked to school through the old section of Chorillos, Peru, Gabriela Shiroma could hear the drums, calling in the voice of Africa. Their rhythms floated through an open window and into the street, their deep chorus reverberating within her chest and flirting with her own heartbeat. She knew she shouldn’t listen, but she always did.

“I always would wonder what was happening in that house, but I was forbidden to find out. I was raised with the mentality: ‘don’t get involved with Peruvians,’ especially blacks. But every time I heard the drums I ...