Nima-kai

Are you a Nima*?

Nima are members of the Discover Nikkei online community called Nima-kai. Join our community and share your stories about the Nikkei experience. Click an icon on the map to connect with Nima around the world!

*The term “Nima” comes from combining Nikkei and nakama (Japanese for “colleagues”, or “fellows”, or “circle”).

Nima of the Month

erikmatsu (Chicago, Illinois, United States)

Erik Matsunaga is a Hapa Yonsei whose family originally settled in California, but resettled in Chicago after World War II. He has shared stories about his family, projects to map historic Japanese American neighborhoods in Chicago, Nikkei martial artists, and other articles about the Chicago community. He curates @windycitynikkei—“Bite-sized Glimpses of Japanese American Chicago”—on Instagram.

Erik was recently featured in the second episode of Nima Voices and previously selected as Nima of the Month in January 2014.

Why do you feel it’s important to document the history and stories of Japanese Americans in Chicago? Are you working on any more Chicago Nikkei projects?

The Chicago Nikkei community is geographically dispersed and institutionally waning. My interest lies in leaving documentation behind for my children to know their place within this unique history. I mostly write about things I want to know, things that I haven’t read or seen anywhere else. Currently I am working on a map of the Uptown/Edgewater settlement from the 1940s to the 1970s.

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

So many! Having made new connections within the Chicago community; former Chicagoans having been inspired to send in their stories in after having long since moved elsewhere; being invited to speak on a Chicago NPR affiliate’s radio segment about local extinct Nikkei neighborhoods; collaborating on Chicago’s first historic Lakeview Japantown walking tour; speaking at the renown Newberry Library about postwar resettlement patterns in Chicago; and being interviewed on a YouTube live session by the one and only Naomi Hirahara! All of these are the result of DN’s openness in sharing stories.

How did you like being our featured guest on the Nima Voices episode?

It was a bit nerve wracking being live and recorded, but fun! The DN team really made everything seamless with excellent prep and advice on what to expect. Thanks Vicky, Yoko & Joy for the opportunity, and to Naomi for gently keeping me on topic as I rambled on and on and on. Although unable to catch them while remaining focused at the same time, I appreciated all the live stream comments and shout-outs by the viewers.

Read his stories >>

Watch Nima Voices: Episode 2 >>

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