Cathy Haruka Uechi

Cathy Uechi is a volunteer at the Japanese American National Museum and a contributing writer for Discover Nikkei. She is a Nisei, born in Boyle Heights and raised in the Valley, to parents who hailed from Okinawa. She enjoys exploring LA’s food scene whether it be the latest hotspot or a “mom and pop” establishment off the beaten path. Cathy is a graduate of the University of California, Irvine.

Updated September 2014

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Internment: A Passion Project

There is a script floating around Hollywood with Japanese Americans as central characters and the desolate landscape of an American concentration camp as the setting. Much has been documented about the wrongful incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 forcing all Japanese Americans to forcibly removed from their homes on the West Coast. Now, thanks to playwright, screenwriter, and actor Phinneas Kiyomura, a captivating look into the day-to-day challenges of camp life and family dynamics are dramatized in his TV pilot script, Internment—and hopefully coming to the small screen …

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Japanese American National Museum Store Online

City Girls: The Nisei Social World in Los Angeles, 1920-1950

In City Girls: The Nisei Social World in Los Angeles, 1920-1950, author Professor Valerie Matsumoto has opened a time capsule in the vaults of American history, zeroing in on the lives of Nisei women in Los Angeles and their exploits of club and community involvements spanning three decades—prewar, World War II, and postwar.

City Girls chronicles the Nisei women’s roles as “markers of family respectability” and visible community representatives during a time replete with pervasive social and economic barriers. The unjust exclusionary practices of their times—observed at beaches, hotels, restaurants, amusement parks, and schools—gave rise to the formation of …

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Maceo: East Beats Meets West

Maceo Hernandez is aptly nicknamed, “The Demon Drummer of East LA.” His story is one of identity, perseverance, and the blending of two cultures, while the heart-pounding beats of the taiko drum take center stage.

Born in East LA to an activist mother, Barbara Hernandez, Maceo had a chance encounter with taiko drums at a wedding reception. Barbara, an activist during the Chicano Civil Rights Movement, was a friend of Japanese American activist, Yuri Mary Kochiyama. It was at Yuri’s son’s wedding that Maceo first observed a taiko performance. He felt the energy and power of each beat; a …

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