2021 Nima of the Month

Nima are members of our Discover Nikkei Nima-kai community. Our Nima of the Month are some of our most active participants. Learn more about them and what they like about Discover Nikkei.

Janeiro 2021

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 >>

Fevereiro 2021

ctrooks (California, United States)

Curtiss Takada Rooks is a 1.5 generation Nikkei, born in Japan to a Japanese mother and African American father and shares life experiences with Sansei. He is Program Coordinator of Asian Pacific American Studies and Assistant Professor at Loyola Marymount University whose research addresses ethnic and multiracial community and identity. He serves on the US Japan Council Board of Directors and Japan America Society of Southern California’s Board of Governors.

Curtiss was the principal investigator of The Nippon Foundation/JANM Global Nikkei Young Adult Research Project (2020), and will be presenting the research findings at the “What Does It Mean to Be Nikkei in 2021?” event. He was previously a panelist on Discover Nikkei’s 2008 program, “Revelations & Resilience: Exploring the Realities of Hapa-ness.”

Curtiss has also shared some essays on Discover Nikkei about being mixed race, and most recently a poem written with his daughter for the Nikkei Uncovered poetry column.

What do you like about Discover Nikkei?

I love that DN connects me with Nikkei young and old, in the US and around the globe. Through the stories of family and community I find myself feeling connected to a truly global Nikkei community. As an academic I find the oral histories, stories, and articles enlightening. Yet, I most enjoy the creative writing and in particular the poetry in Nikkei Uncovered. The mastery of images, symbols, and power of language touch me deeply. Through these creative works I am able to feel the ways in which the writers live their lives and through them understand better my own experiences.

Read his stories >>

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Descubra Nikkei

O site Descubra Nikkei é um lugar once você pode se conectar com outras pessoas e assim participar nas experiências dos nikkeis. Para continuar a manter e expandir este projeto, nós precisamos da sua ajuda!

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Patrocinador principal: The Nippon Foundation