Tamiko Nimura

Tamiko Nimura is an Asian American writer living in Tacoma, Washington. Her training in literature and American ethnic studies (MA, PhD, University of Washington) prepared her to research, document, and tell the stories of people of color. She has been writing for Discover Nikkei since 2008.

Tamiko just published her first book, Rosa Franklin: A Life in Health Care, Public Service, and Social Justice (Washington State Legislature Oral History Program, 2020). Her second book is a co-written graphic novel, titled We Hereby Refuse: Japanese American Resistance to Wartime Incarceration (Chin Music Press/Wing Luke Asian Museum). She is working on a memoir called PILGRIMAGE.

Updated November 2020

culture en

Handmade In Camp: A Museum Pays Tribute to Nikkei History in Auburn, Washington

Cherry blossoms made out of tiny white shells. A handcarved wooden vase. A Japanese doll in kimono.

These are some of the artifacts in Handmade in Camp: What We Couldn’t Carry, now on display in the White River Valley Museum in Auburn, Washington through November 6, 2016. The artifacts were handmade by incarcerated Japanese Americans during World War II, from found and scavenged materials. The cherry blossoms are made from the shells found in abundance around the Tule Lake site. The wooden vase, from a piece of firewood from Tule Lake. The Japanese doll is made out of scavenged …

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community en

Tacoma’s Nihonmachi Is in the Heart

“What are you working on now?” my hairdresser asks me. We’ve seen each other for years, and she knows about my writing projects.

“I’m working on an essay about Tacoma’s Japantown,” I say. She stops with the comb and scissors still in her hands. Pieces of my hair are already scattered on the floor. She looks puzzled, and I add quickly, “which doesn’t really exist anymore.”

“Oh, good, I’m glad you said that,” she says. “I was so confused. Because I wanted to know where it was. I’d like to go there.”

“Right? Me too,” I say.

* * * …

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Bringing the Worlds of Nihonjin and Nikkeijin Together: An Interview with Lynne Kutsukake

A Japanese schoolgirl with an older sister who goes missing. A Japanese Canadian classmate who is willing to help the first girl with her search by writing a letter. A Japanese American Nisei translator working under General MacArthur who reads their letter and decides to take action. The lives of these characters (and more) intersect in the post-WWII occupied Tokyo of Lynne Kutsukake’s novel, The Translation of Love (2016). It’s a book that skillfully gathers disparate characters under the profound question, “How should a man live?”

A former librarian, Kutsukake’s Japan is rendered in exacting detail, from keepsake stones from …

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identity en

Wabi-Sabi Stitches: Sanae Ishida’s Path to Sewing Happiness

“I’d like to think that this isn’t your typical sewing book,” says Nikkei author Sanae Ishida in her latest book, Sewing Happiness: A Year of Simple Projects for Living Well. The book chronicles her path from exhaustion and illness resulting from overwork to a “real, joyful, unpolished, but meaningful” life.

For fans of Ishida’s children’s book Little Kunoichi, this second book may come as a bit of a surprise; it’s part memoir, part “lookbook” for sewing inspiration, and part instruction manual. Much like Ishida’s own sewing blog, this book is a hybrid that somehow creates an inspiring …

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community en

For the Sake of the Ancestors and the Children: The “Small But Mighty” Work of the Camp Harmony Committee

Every September, thousands of people “do the Puyallup.” For Washington State residents it’s an opportunity to visit the State Fairgrounds, ride the rollercoasters, listen to concerts, and eat scones with raspberry jam.

For other visitors, including the Camp Harmony Committee (CHC), the memories and associations with the site are not always so pleasant. During World War II, the site housed over seven thousand Japanese Americans, serving as a detention center for Nikkei evacuated from Alaska, Seattle, Tacoma, and surrounding rural areas. It became known as “Camp Harmony,” nicknamed by army public relations officials. For these visitors, a corner of …

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