12月 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 >>

11月 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 >>

10月 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 >>

9月 2018

greg (Quebec, Canada)

Greg Robinson, a contributor to Discover Nikkei since 2009, grew up in New York City and is currently a professor of history at l'Université du Québec À Montréal. His books include By Order of the President: FDR and the Internment of Japanese Americans (Harvard University Press, 2001), A Tragedy of Democracy: Japanese Confinement in North America (Columbia University Press, 2009), and The Great Unknown: Japanese American Sketches (University Press of Colorado, 2016). His latest book is the co-edited volume John Okada: The Life & Rediscovered Work of the Author of No-No Boy (University of Washington Press, 2018). Greg was previously selected Nima of the Month in October 2013.

What role does Discover Nikkei play in the sharing of global Nikkei stories?

Discover Nikkei plays an important role in publishing and sharing stories of global Nikkei. For one thing, the fact that it appears in multilingual versions and includes stories from outside the United States helps in disseminating information. The first time that I was Nima of the Month, five years ago, I commented on how pleased I was by coverage of Japanese Canadians. Now I also find the coverage of Latin America useful.

Some years ago, I met a distinguished Cuban, with whom I discussed the wartime internment of Cuban Japanese. I was sorry to learn that these events were little-known in Cuba. The man, in turn, asked me for Spanish-language material on the treatment of Japanese Americans, and I was embarrassed that I had none to give him. Nowadays I could point him to Discover Nikkei for help with both.

Even Discover Nikkei’s stories of Nikkei in the United States feature information on less-reported themes. Interestingly, when I was invited a year ago to serve as a regular contributor, the only restriction put on what subjects I could write about was that it had to be a subject that had not already been extensively explored.

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

Over the last years, my association with Discover Nikkei has taken different forms. In explaining the shift, I am reminded of the scholar Philip Guedalla, who (in a play of words on British Kings) wittily divided the novels of Henry James into three “reigns”: “James the First, James the Second, and the Old Pretender.” On a considerably smaller level, my own first “reign” was as a writer of extended multi-part articles, including one on the writings of Bill Hosokawa and Buddy Uno for a collaborationist Japanese newspaper in 1930s Shanghai, and another that contrasted Japanese American and Japanese Canadian “internment” films.

The second “reign” was a correspondent reporting on historical conferences: I provided dispatches from the Sedai/Keisho conferences on wartime Japanese Canadians and from the Japanese American National Museum’s 2013 Seattle conference. Since last year, I have been begun a new “reign” as a regular columnist. As with my “The Great Unknown” pieces for the Nichi Bei Weekly newspaper, I have devoted myself to reporting on unsung communities and individuals, whether it be Nisei athletes in prewar Louisiana; Gay novelist Christopher Isherwood’s views of the Japanese minority; or Loren Miller, the African American attorney who was an outstanding defender of Japanese Americans.

I have found two aspects of the work especially meaningful. First, I have been touched by the confidence of family members of the individuals I write about, who have corrected my errors, answered my questions, and provided assistance with images. Tsuyoshi Matsumoto’s daughter Helen Kagan tipped me off about a weekly newspaper column, entitled “People to People and How,” that her father wrote in the US Navy newspaper The Seahawk. My old friend Momo Yashima regaled me with stories about her parents Taro and Mitsu Yashima (subjects of a forthcoming column). GerrieLani Miyazaki, another old friend, shared with me photos of her late mother Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga.

The other aspect that I find especially meaningful has been the incitement to collaborate. The writing of pieces for DN has led me to join forces with young historians, some of them my own students. We have pooled our research and written together on an equal basis. I joined my student Maxime Minne, an expert on the history of the Panama Canal, in studying the wartime internment of ethnic Japanese in the Canal Zone—a U.S. territory all but forgotten in Nikkei history—and was gratified by the attention it received (it has had 134 shares on Facebook, far more than any other of my pieces).

Read Greg's articles >>

8月 2018

kmatsuno (Glendale, California, United States)

Kira Matsuno is currently an undergraduate at the University of California at Riverside studying business. She is presently working with Discover Nikkei and the Japanese American Bar Association through a summer internship as part of the Nikkei Community Internship (NCI) program. Recently, she spent time with the Honorable Fumiko Hachiya Wasserman, a judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court. She recorded the judge’s oral history and will soon publish a story about her experiences with the Judge Wasserman. Outside of her work and studies, Matsuno is an avid fan of fishing and sees the activity as a way to stay connected to her Japanese roots and community.

What do you like about Discover Nikkei and why?

One of my favorite parts of the Discover Nikkei website is the map of Nima-Kai. It is amazing to see how widespread this community is, and is still able to be connected to one another. Discover Nikkei helps break down the language barrier by translating articles and getting people engaged online. I started contributing to the website through the Nikkei Community Internship program. I have had the privilege of seeing the work that goes into this program, and how the team is constantly working to improve it.

It is extremely important for people to not lose their connection to history, heritage, and community. Discover Nikkei is an outlet that provides the space for those values to grow and keeps people informed on current events that are making an impact in the community. I have begun to see how important it is to recognize, appreciate, and learn from those who have done so much with their lives for the community. It has gotten me thinking about how I can give back so that younger generations can benefit just as I have.

Read Kira’s articles >>


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