Ryan Masaaki Yokota

Ryan Masaaki Yokota is a Yonsei/Shin-Nisei Nikkei of Japanese and Okinawan. Currently he works as the Development and Legacy Center Director at the Japanese American Service Committee in Chicago, IL, and also teaches as an adjunct instructor at DePaul University. He received his Ph.D. in East Asian-Japanese History at the University of Chicago, and his M.A. in Asian American Studies at UCLA. He is directly descended of a great-grandfather who was incarcerated in the Japanese American Concentration Camp at Rohwer, Arkansas during World War II. Additionally, his grandparents and father survived the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima.

His academic publications include a recently published book chapter on Okinawan autonomy movements, an article on Okinawan indigenousness, a book chapter on Okinawan Peruvians in Los Angeles, an article on Japanese and Okinawans in Cuba, and an interview with Asian American Movement activist Pat Sumi. He is a founder of the Nikkei Chicago website, which highlights untold stories of the Japanese American community in Chicago.

Updated February 2018


business en

Japanese American Chick Sexers in Chicago - Part 1

At modern-day 821 North La Salle Street, in the River North neighborhood of Chicago, few people today could possibly imagine that here at this site was one of the main Japanese American chick sexing schools outside of the west coast. Indeed, at the site of the upscale apartment building that now marks this space, one can find few traces of a business that used to permeate the very fabric of this neighborhood with the smell of burnt chicks.

“They disposed of the used chicks in an incinerator in the back of the building,” said Jimmy Doi, who in the early …

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community en

The Japanese Peruvian Community of Chicago

On a warm spring day last year, members of the Japanese Peruvian community filled the pews of the Church of Christ Presbyterian in Chicago not for church services, but instead to see the screening of a film and to hear an update from the Japanese Peruvian Oral History Project.

With some speaking Spanish in whispered conversations, the seeming incongruity of their Japanese faces and Spanish accents spoke to the reality of a World War II process that had caused the rendition of roughly 2,264 Japanese Latin Americans from their countries of origin to be imprisoned into multiple Department of Justice …

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identity en

Nisei Recollections of a Pre-Resettlement Chicago

Follow the story of “Rocky” Yamanaka, one of the few remaining Nisei who remembers life in Chicago before Japanese American resettlement, from his family’s difficulties in the Great Depression, his experiences in being drafted on V-J Day at the end of World War II, and his return to a Chicago that had drastically changed.


“My Japanese name is Iwao, which means ‘rock,’” explained “Rocky” Yamanaka, a Nisei who currently lives in the Lincoln Square neighborhood of Chicago’s North Side. “Because of that, my nickname became ‘Rocky.’”

Still sharp of mind and looking rather spry for an 86-year old, …

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