Voices of Chicago

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The articles in this series were originally published in Voices of Chicago, the online journal of the Chicago Japanese American Historical Society, which has been a Discover Nikkei Participating Organization since December 2004.

Voices of Chicago is a collection of first-person narratives about the experiences of people of Japanese descent living in Chicago. The community is composed of three waves of immigration, and their descendants: The first, about 300 people, came to Chicago around the time of the Columbian Exposition in 1899. The second, and largest, group is descended from 30,000 who came to Chicago directly from the internment camps after World War II. Called the “ReSettlers,” they created a community built around social service organizations, Buddhist and Christian churches and small businesses. The third, more recent, group are Japanese nationals who came to Chicago, beginning in the 1980s, as artists and students and remained. A fourth, non-immigrant, group are Japanese business executives and their families who live in Chicago for extended periods, sometimes permanently.

Chicago has always been a place where people can re-create themselves, and where diverse ethnic communities live and work together. Voices of Chicago tells the stories of members of each of these four groups, and how they fit into the mosaic of a great city.

Visit the Chicago Japanese American Historical Society website >>


Articles in this series

Voices of Chicago

Manzanar: A Son's Journey - Part 3

Keith Uchima

Read Part 2 >> 

Breathless and exhausted from the hot desert sun, jet lag and bus ride, I now believe that I was running only on fumes. At the ceremonies end, Pilgrims of all faiths gathered around the large white memorial stone obelisk. Quiet and somber, priests and pastors take their ...

Voices of Chicago

Manzanar: A Son's Journey - Part 2

Keith Uchima

Read Part 1 >> 

Fast forward. April 28, 6 a.m. In the darkness of the L.A. morning I walk to the bus staging area at St. Francis Xavier Church. Body tired from the flight and time change, I chastise my pitiful self and think of the L.A. Times ...

Voices of Chicago

Manzanar: A Son's Journey - Part 1

Keith Uchima

Please understand…I didn’t want to go to see Manzanar. I NEEDED to go there.

Voices of Chicago

Welcome to the Writers Workshop

Erik Matsunaga

The Undeniables writers workshop was formed in 1999, inspired by a chapter from the novel VALLEY (Bend Press, 1998), by Mike Daily. Edren Sumagaysay and I had met the previous year in a touring theatre troupe based in Los Angeles, and got to talking about a mutual passion for writing ...

Voices of Chicago

How Marrow Unites a Community: Chris Ishida’s Search & Discovery

Chris Ishida

For a majority of my life I have felt a little left out of the Japanese American community. This is despite the fact that my family incorporated both my mother’s American/Italian traditions and my father’s Japanese traditions. My dad was born and raised in Japan and moved ...

Voices of Chicago

Do You Know Kung Fu? - Part 2

Larry Wiley

>> Part 1

The summer after 4th grade, 1971, it was somehow decided that my older sister, my younger brother and I would become members of the local YMCA. We all took up swimming and judo. I really wanted to do Karate (in those days I don’t think there was ...

Voices of Chicago

Do You Know Kung Fu? - Part 1

Larry Wiley

I was born August 19th, 1961 at the University of Chicago Lying-in Hospital, on the south side of Chicago. My father, Joseph Earl Wiley, hails from a prominent family in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. His father, Joseph Elias, graduated from Tuskegee Institute, class of 1914, and served with distinction as an ...

Voices of Chicago

My Life Between Two Cultures - Part 2

Kyoko Inoue

>> Part 1

4. The Inoue Family Meets Their American Relatives

In 1942, my relatives, like all the West Coast Japanese and Japanese Americans, were shipped to a concentration camp. They were initially sent to Tanforan Race Track in California, and then, I believe, to Tule Lake. I know nothing about ...

Voices of Chicago

My Life Between Two Cultures - Part 1

Kyoko Inoue

I have lived in the United States since 1968. While I have adjusted well to life in America, I have also tried to maintain my Japanese identity. My upbringing and experience have led me to live a life between two cultures.

Voices of Chicago

Hiroshima Story - Part 3

Sachiko Masuoka

This is a story told by Sachiko Masuoka about living through the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

>> Part 2

We went to the fist aid station many times, but the scene was so terrible that I could not watch. I just covered my eyes. There was not enough help and it ...


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