2022 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.

January 2022

norio (California, United States)

Norio Umezu Hall is a transmasculine Yonsei parent, with a father who immigrated from Japan. He writes for a national non-profit and loves writing, watching films, reading stories, spending time with his family, and stargazing.

Norio became a volunteer writer for Discover Nikkei in August 2021. We look forward to working with him more in 2022!

What do you like about Discover Nikkei?

Learning about the Japanese Latin American Redress Movement as a young adult made me realize I had a limited understanding of what it means to be Nikkei in this world. I love that Discover Nikkei provides more opportunities to challenge my myopia. I think it’s wonderful that there’s a single platform sharing stories about Nikkei people, traditions, and events in so many languages and places.

What made you decide to volunteer for Discover Nikkei?

I decided to volunteer with Discover Nikkei because I support its vision of connecting people across generations through storytelling. Many years ago, I was an officer for the Nikkei Student Union (NSU) at my college. During a discussion about declining participation at NSU events, a fellow member shared they wished leadership would organize more events where we could all learn about our heritage and explore what it means to be Nikkei. I felt angry at the time. I didn’t know how to find information to organize those kinds of events much beyond reading Farewell to Manzanar and Journey to Topaz. (While those are great stories, they only explore a fragment of the Nikkei experience). Being part of the Discover Nikkei team allows me to help build a resource for others who want a kaleidoscopic view of Nikkei communities.

Read his stories >>

February 2022

Mimi_O (Ontario, Canada)

Mimi Okabe was born in Miyagi, Japan, but immigrated to Canada with her family when she was 11-months-old. She holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Alberta, where she has taught literature, pop culture, and Japanese. She is one of the founders of Japanese for Nikkei, an online learning and teaching platform specializing in reconnecting Nikkei with their heritage language.

Mimi joined Discover Nikkei as a volunteer at the end of last year and will be writing articles in English and Japanese. We look forward to working with her more in the future!

What do you like about Discover Nikkei?

I love how this project connects Nikkei from around the globe. It’s one of those things that I wish I had known about when I was a child so that I could’ve built a sense of community and solidarity with people who may have had similar hardships navigating between two cultures and two worlds. Having an online platform where the Japanese diaspora can share their stories and community events in order to cultivate a sense of community is a beautiful initiative that I hope lasts for generations to come.

What made you decide to volunteer for Discover Nikkei?

I initially reached out to Yoko Nishimura [project manager] because I was curious to know more about Discover Nikkei. I came across Discover Nikkei’s website one day when I was doing research on heritage language speakers, and I remember getting totally sidetracked as I was exploring the website. I was impressed by how the website operates in four different languages. In particular, I really enjoyed reading the stories featured in Nikkei Chronicles, and I thought, how cool it would be to support this amazing project. So, here I am as a new volunteer. I look forward to writing articles for Discover Nikkei and to connecting with other volunteers as well as the online community!

Read her stories >>

March 2022

askilbred (California, United States)

Alison Skilbred is an artist, musician, and designer who is now based in the greater Los Angeles area. After attending Discover Nikkei’s Volunteer Open House last summer, she joined the project’s volunteer marketing team.

As a volunteer, she has created the logo for the Inspire Forward: Nikkei Heroes Under 30 series, as well as the video for the Nima-kai Traditions: Oshogatsu Foods 2022 photo activity. She also helped as a technical assistant for Spanish-speakers who attended Discover Nikkei’s recent “What Is Nikkei Food?” program. We look forward to working with her more in the future!

What do you like about Discover Nikkei?

I love the way Discover Nikkei connects people around the world through personal stories. I believe that sharing our stories with each other can break down divisions and create moments of empathy. It is the power of storytelling that brings us together, even when it might seem like we don’t have much in common.

What made you decide to volunteer for Discover Nikkei?

As an artist/designer I was looking for ways to volunteer for organizations who had a need for my skill set and was connected to DN by someone at JANM. What has kept me connected (since I work virtually) is working with wonderful people like Yoko Nishimura and Vicky Murakami-Tsuda. Although I am not Nikkei by heritage, they have welcomed me into the community as though I am, and for that I am so grateful.

April 2022

tatianamaebuchi (Brazil)

Tatiana Maebuchi is a yonsei Nikkei journalist from São Paulo, Brazil. She is also a blogger/vlogger who writes about travel and Japanese culture. She has been contributing stories to Discover Nikkei since 2015 about Japanese Brazilian individuals and communities, including an interview with Graziela Tamanaha for the Inspire Forward: Nikkei Heroes Under 30 series (available now in English and Portuguese; other translations to be added soon).

Tatiana also assisted Discover Nikkei for our “What Is Nikkei in 2021?” virtual, multilingual program last year. She was previously selected as Nima of the Month in December 2015.

[EN]

Why do you like writing about Brazilian Nikkei communities?

When I write about Brazilian Nikkei communities, I always learn something and I look upon it as my contribution to the descendants. I discover and share different stories and I find that there are curious facts about them. Also, it’s a great way to keep connected to Japanese culture and my origins, since I love writing.

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

Each story is unique and offers me an interesting discovery. It’s like a puzzle: every piece has its place and all of the parts together form the whole. It was and it has been my journey to investigate who I am, how I am, why I am like this, and to figure out some habits and behaviors, which I didn’t understand.

Read her stories >>

[PT]

Por que você gosta de escrever sobre as comunidades nikkeis brasileiras?

Escrever sobre os nikkeis brasileiros é sempre um grande aprendizado para mim e considero como minha contribuição para a comunidade. Conheço e compartilho diferentes histórias, que têm peculiaridades e fatos curiosos. Ao mesmo tempo, é uma ótima forma de manter contato com a cultura japonesa e minhas raízes, já que amo escrever.

Qual é a coisa mais significativa que aconteceu como resultado de sua conexão com o Descubra Nikkei?

Cada história é única e me proporciona uma descoberta interessante. É como se fosse um quebra-cabeça, em que cada peça tem seu lugar e, no conjunto, essas peças encaixadas formam o todo, algo completo. Assim foi e ainda tem sido minha jornada de desvendar quem sou, como sou, por que sou assim, e de entender hábitos e comportamentos que não compreendia antes.

Leia seus artigos >>

May 2022

JCI_BrasilJapao (São Paulo, Brazil)

JCI Brasil–Japão is a local São Paulo, Brazil chapter of Junior Chamber International (JCI), a non-profit organization of active citizens from all sectors of society who embrace new ideas, collaboration, and diversity. JCI members are concerned about the future of the world and are committed to making an impact in their communities.

Discover Nikkei first connected with JCI Brasil–Japão at the 2017 COPANI convention in Lima, Peru. The connection has grown in recent years with JCI Brasil–Japão becoming an official community partner for Nikkei Generations: Connecting Families & Communities in 2021, the “What is Nikkei Food?” virtual program in February 2022, and Itadakimasu 3! Nikkei Food, Family, and Community—this year’s edition of Nikkei Chronicles. They also provided help for our Nima Voices: Episode 8 with Brazilian Nikkei Laura Honda-Hasegawa and guest host Patricia Murakami, a past president of the organization.

We asked Andre Shishido, JCI-Brasil’s Director of Marketing, what they like about Discover Nikkei and this is what he said:

[EN]
What do you like about partnering with Discover Nikkei?

This opportunity is awesome for our entity to have international experiences with a relevant foreign partner. In some important ways, our objectives align and this also is very relevant for us to value this friendship so much. As an additional point, I can see that these actions enrich our members’ minds and also makes them practice language, expression, communication, and so on. This is my point of view.


Why makes Discover Nikkei a useful resource for Brazilian Nikkei communities?

I feel like the Brazilian Nikkei community still lacks unity and organization. Both points can be helped by Discover Nikkei as the many ways that these international experiences show us how other communities work. For example, being able to see how Peruvians and also Americans from Hawaii organize information about food for sure was very inspiring to Brazilians in the last event, as in Brazil there is not much depth in the Nikkei food topic, in the sense of restaurants, information, and many ambassadors.

[PT]
O que você acha da parceria com o Descubra Nikkei?

Essa oportunidade é incrível para nossa entidade, ter experiências internacionais com um parceiro relevante estrangeiro. De algumas formas importantes, como nossos objetivos se alinhando e assim também sendo relevantes para alcançá-los. Como ponto adicional, consigo ver como essas atividades enriquecem a forma de pensar dos nossos membros e também fazem com que eles pratiquem a língua, expressão, comunicação e assim por diante. Esse é o meu ponto de vista.

Por que o Descubra Nikkei é um recurso útil para as comunidades nikkeis brasileiras?

Eu sinto que a comunidade Nikkei brasileira ainda precisa de unidade e organização. Ambos pontos podem ser trabalhados com a Discover Nikkei já que de diversas formas essas experiências internacionais nos mostram como outras comunidades trabalham. Como por exemplo, sendo possível ver como as comunidades Peruanas e Americanas do Havaí organizam as informações sobre comida com certeza foi inspirador para os participantes brasileiros no último evento, considerando que no Brasil, não há tanta profundidade no tópico sobre comida nikkei, no sentido de restaurantes, informação e os embaixadores.

June 2022

traciakemi (California, United States)

traci kato-kiriyama (tkk) is a performer, actor, writer, author, educator, and art+community organizer. She recently published Navigating With(out) Instruments, a book of poetry, micro essays, and notes to self. tkk also narrates for audiobooks, recently recording her 13th title, The Fervor, by Alma Katsu, acknowledged by The New York Times’ “6 Audiobooks to Listen to Now.” Her recording of Temple Alley Summer by Sachiko Kashiwaba and Avery Fischer Udagawa garnered tkk an Earphone Award and an Audie Award nomination.

tkk is also a performer and principal writer for PULLproject Ensemble, Director/Co-Founder of Tuesday Night Project; a core artist of Vigilant Love; a longtime supporter of Okaeri; and a lead organizer with the Nikkei Progressives/NCRR Reparations Committee and the newly formed National Nikkei Reparations Coalition.

tkk has curated Discover Nikkei’s Nikkei Uncovered monthly poetry column since December 2016, hosted Nikkei Uncovered virtual poetry readings in 2020 and 2021, and was previously selected Nima of the Month in August 2013.

It’s been over 5 years since we launched Nikkei Uncovered. What has that experience been like for you as the curator of the column?

I can’t believe it has been over 5 years since we first launched the Nikkei Uncovered column. It has been really wonderful to meet and be introduced to so many Nikkei writers from various parts of the globe and to publish in other languages as well.

We have a wide spectrum of life and writing experience to uplift and I’ve been so impressed by the storytelling and the willingness of so many writers and community members to share their poetry.

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

One of my favorite experiences in getting poetry ready for publication through our column has been to share the poetry that is in Spanish with my partner’s mom, Norma. She herself as a pianist is an artist and has helped me to interpret and translate some of the poetry that has come through Nikkei Uncovered. I do worry it’s too much pressure for her, but she seems to enjoy it and really takes the time to read and take in the poetry as she walks me through the language and writing.

It has also been meaningful to simply read what comes in—I always look forward to reaching out to folks and seeing how they will respond and having them guide where the month’s theme goes, or to present prompts and challenges to writers and see where they take it!

I think we’re constantly moving toward more awareness of the work out there. I’m excited who we will find or who will reach out to us next.

Read her stories >>

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Discover Nikkei

Discover Nikkei is a place to connect with others and share the Nikkei experience. To continue to sustain and grow this project, we need your help!

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A project of the Japanese American National Museum


Major support by The Nippon Foundation