Power of Our Stories

This series features projects that help to preserve and share Nikkei stories in different ways—through blogs, websites, social media, podcasts, art, films, zines, music, merchandise, and more. By highlighting these projects, we hope to share the importance of preserving and sharing Nikkei stories and inspire others to create their own.

If you have a project you think we should feature, or are interested in volunteering to help us conduct future interviews, email us at Editor@DiscoverNikkei.org.

Logo design: Alison Skilbred

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Tsunagu: Connecting Family Stories through the Generations

I have a curiosity about my father’s family history. Why did my grandfather cross a vast ocean from Wakayama, Japan to an unknown land to seek his fortune? Why don’t we have any relatives in Japan any longer? What are the family traits that I have acquired through osmosis? My father and his brothers were not storytellers, so family lore and values were not explicitly shared with my Sansei cousins and me. Only in recent years have I had the time to interview living Nisei relatives and root around to find answers. I’ve found the exploration rewarding but also incomplete. …

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On Topaz Stories and “Authentic Voice”: A Conversation With Writer And Editor Ruth Sasaki - Part 2

Read Part 1 >>

Tamiko Nimura: As editor/curator, are there any particular segments in Topaz Stories that resonate for you?

Ruth Sasaki: There are stories that are a miracle for the recall of specific details by someone who was a young child in camp, like Jon Yatabe’s “Toy Story.” Another story, “Father and Son” by Dan Hirano, who was actually born in Topaz, grabbed me for its distinctive voice and the image that came to mind as I read it of someone in his 70s (decades later) poring over a cherished and worn photo—of himself sitting …

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On Topaz Stories and “Authentic Voice”: A Conversation With Writer And Editor Ruth Sasaki - Part 1

As a college student at UC Berkeley in the 1990s, I was searching for Sansei writers who wrote about the wartime incarceration of Japanese Americans. I was delighted to find the work of Janice Mirikitani and Ruth Sasaki. Sasaki’s book, The Loom and Other Stories, is one that I’ve kept close to my heart and on my shelf for decades now. So it was a delight to see that she had started a blog in 2015, and to see that she was editing a new project in 2020: Topaz Stories, a collection of first-person stories from camp survivors …

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Campu, the Podcast: Reanalyzing Japanese American Incarceration in the 21st Century, How is it relevant today?

Introducing Campu: a podcast that offers a fresh, raw, and insightful scope into the diverse experiences of Japanese incarceree daily life during World War II. Campu analyzes the political, racial, social, psychological, physical, and systemic barriers that Japanese immigrants and Japanese Americans endured during this event in history.

The podcast also goes above and beyond by identifying and discussing how a collection of these events have created a long-lasting impact on our history today. By bringing together various unheard anecdotes, life events, and history, this podcast creates a unique take on the storytelling of Japanese incarceration.

I had the …

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Michelle Kumata, A Japanese-American Artist with Brazilian Ancestral Roots

Seattle native Michelle Kumata’s artistic journey has taken her across the country to New York and across the hemisphere to Brazil, not only to discover her identity and legacy but to express it through her work. By exploring her family’s Japanese-Brazilian (JB) roots, she shares her story of how, through oral histories and visual art, she has established a legacy for future generations of her family.

A shy, only child growing up, Michelle has become an accomplished artist whose work has been showcased in The Seattle Times, and in cultural centers, museums, and galleries locally and across the nation. …

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Tags

artists arts camps Campu canada concentration camps densho diaspora Family stories generations Hana Maruyama identity japanese american japanese americans Japanese Brazilian Japanese Brazilian Diaspora Project Michelle Kumata Noah Maruyama podcast preservation Ruth Sasaki Topaz Stories Tsunagu world war II