Nancy Matsumoto

Nancy Matsumoto is a freelance writer and editor specializing in the areas of sustainable agriculture, food, arts, culture and health. She has been a contributor to The Wall Street Journal, Time, People, Civil Eats, NPR’s The Salt, and the online Densho Encyclopedia of the Japanese American Incarceration, among other publications. She is also the co-author of the book The Parent's Guide to Eating Disorders: Supporting Self-Esteem, Healthy Eating & Positive Body Image at Home.

Twitter/Instagram: @nancymatsumoto

Updated June 2017

community en

JAJA: A Home Away From Home for Japanese Americans and Japanese in New York

I lived in Manhattan for 13 years before I went to my first JAJA meeting. An acronym for Japanese Americans and Japanese in America, JAJA is an informal group that meets monthly in a large and accommodating loft space near Union Square. On my first visit, I exited the elevator on the third floor of a former commercial building and heard a muffled din coming from behind a door to my right. I opened it and entered a boisterous world brimming with loud talk, a clatter of kitchen sounds, and the smell of good food. By virtue of existing for ...

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culture en

Native Sons of Fresno, California Look Back

I’m writing a Densho Encyclopedia entry now on the poet Lawson Fusao Inada. He’s a third-generation Japanese American who was locked up in three different U.S. government prisons during World War II.

It’s not surprising that even though he was only four years old when he was first placed behind barbed wire, the “camp” experience became a major theme in Inada’s poetry, a wound he revisited repeatedly. It’s as if he wanted to figure out what happened and recast it on his own terms, not those of the government—who said it was for ...

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media en

Fishing as a Form of Defiance: Cory Shiozaki and "The Manzanar Fishing Club"

In 2004, The Los Angeles Times published an article about a mysterious man, identified only as “Ishikawa, Fisherman,” taken at the California World War II U.S. government prison camp Manzanar. Included in the story was a photo of Ishikawa, his face weathered and brown, holding a line of what article identified as “trophy size” golden trout.

Cory Shiozaki, a Sansei and avid fisherman, read the article—which singled out this photograph from an exhibit of works by camp inmate and photographer Toyo Miyatake—and was immediately struck. He knew that golden trout are only found above 8,000 feet ...

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culture en

Roger Shimomura, Artist, Collector

Earlier this week, I attended the opening of Japanese American artist Roger Shimomura’s exhibit at the Asian/Pacific/American Institute’s new digs at 8 Washington Mews, a part of New York University.

The Seattle-born Sansei(third-generation Japanese American), who’s spending this year as artist-in-residence at A/P/A, has made a name for himself as a painter, printmaker, and theater artist. His visual work speaks the language of pop art, comic books, Japanese wood-block prints, and manga, but their bright, shiny surfaces upend expectations by delivering sly doses of subversive commentary on race and exclusion.

The A ...

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identity en

Book Review: Exploring the Borderlands of Race, Nation, Sex and Gender

Growing up in predominantly white Marin County, mixed-race yonsei Akemi Johnson hates her name and just wants to blend in. In college, though, her attitude changes. She studies race and ethnicity and travels to Japan. Though her stated purpose there is to study issues around the American bases in Okinawa, she later writes, ”My real motives were more personal and intertwined with the past, with traumas that had been born many years before.” She reflects on why her grandparents, who were imprisoned at the Tule Lake and Gila River concentration camps, never talked about those experiences. Eventually she returns to ...

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