Erik Matsunaga

Erik Matsunaga is a Chicago-born Yonsei descended of Nisei resettlers from California by way of Gila River War Relocation Center. In addition to regular contributions to Discover Nikkei, he curates @windycitynikkei – "Bite-sized glimpses of Japanese American Chicago" – on Instagram. He resides in Chicago with his wife and children and works in the steel industry.

Updated January 2020

community en

Clark & Division: Japanese Americans on Chicago’s Near North Side, 1940s-1960s - Part 2

Read Part 1 >>

David Toguri

I was born in Chicago in 1947 at Cuneo Hospital. Dr. Junji Hasegawa delivered me. His brother, Susumu Hasegawa, was our dentist.

My family lived above 1012 North Clark Street which was my family’s grocery store, Diamond Trading Co. Later, Diamond Trading moved to 1108 North Clark near Sun Grocery, which was owned by John Yahiro.

At four or five years old I would wander up and down Clark Street by myself. I had boundaries. I couldn’t go as far as Division Street. I knew Division was as far as I could go ...

continue a ler

community en

Clark & Division: Japanese Americans on Chicago’s Near North Side, 1940s-1960s - Part 1

Chicago’s Near North Side. In the early to mid-twentieth century it was a playground for the rich, transient stopover for the poor, home to beatniks, hippies, harlots, the Rush Street entertainment district and the Outfit. Historically a multi-ethnic stew, within its boundaries could be found Swede Town; German Broadway; Little Sicily; an Irish settlement on Goose Island called Kilgubbin; and La Clark, a Puerto Rican enclave displaced in the 1960s by Carl Sandburg Village.

In 1929, Harvey Warren Zorbaugh wrote about Chicago’s Near North Side:

Clark Street is the Rialto of the slum. Deteriorated store buildings, cheap dance ...

continue a ler

community en

Windy City Nikkei: Bite-sized glimpses of Japanese American Chicago

With a family of six and a full-time job, researching and writing full-length articles about family and community was becoming exceedingly difficult. However, the thirst to research our Chicago Nikkei community's past and present had not fizzled, as I feel it important to leave these stories for my kids, the Gosei generation, so they know how the greater community's history intersects with that of our post-WWII resettled family. These stories are the whys and hows of our existence.

Instagram, a photo and video sharing service accessible by both web browser and phone app, proved an interesting outlet for ...

continue a ler

culture en

Jamie Dihiansan and Chicago Graffiti

The first time you hit a real wall, not a practice spot, you get this rush. Like, “I shouldn’t be doing this.” Especially when you’re running along the El tracks and there’s the third rail, a train might be coming, and you gotta jump onto a roof. It’s a thrill, and even more thrilling when you paint something and get to see it from the train the next day.

– Jamie Dihiansan, aka MENS

In 1990s Chicago, graffiti was an underground art form practiced in less than desirable conditions, by fringe dwellers under threat of legal ramifications ...

continue a ler

culture en

Nikkei a Descoberto: uma coluna de poesia

Place / Location

This month, we feature just one writer and a beloved one to the Discover Nikkei space at that—Chicago native, Erik Matsunaga. Erik’s piece is a simple moment between old childhood pals and one that sets an image of “home” or places of significance that are, at once, transient and meaningful…enjoy.

—traci kato-kiriyama

* * * * *

Erik Matsunaga is a Chicago-born fourth generation Nikkei American of Japanese and German descent. In addition to regular contributions to Discover Nikkei, his extensive research into Chicago’s Japanese American community has been most recently featured on WBEZ Chicago Public Radio’s The Afternoon Shift ...

continue a ler