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

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Tracing the Past With The Present: Yonsei Artist Lauren Iida

Yonsei artist Lauren Iida and I first met online years ago when I interviewed her from Cambodia. Since that conversation her arts practice has expanded and deepened, as has her entrepreneurship and mentorship—all of these factors making her career an exciting one to watch. Her beautifully evocative paper cutting artworks include Memory Net, the series 100 Aspects of the Moon, and the series 32 Aspects of Daily Life. Many of them draw on her Japanese American heritage and historical research, and are often inspired by old family photographs. 

In recent years Iida’s work has reached larger audiences, with …

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“War Did Not Break This Family”: Nancy Kyoko Oda and the Tule Lake Stockade Diary

In 2014, I was training to be a discussion leader for the intergenerational dialogues that are an integral part of the Tule Lake pilgrimage. In the training session with 20+ participants, we were given three minutes to introduce ourselves to each other, in pairs. I was sitting next to a Sansei woman with kind brown eyes and a warm smile. As my partner introduced herself, I started nodding with excitement—we were supposed to listen, not speak, for those three minutes. But I could hardly wait to speak, because we shared so much in common. Both of us have artistic sisters; …

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Power of Our Stories

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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war en

Power of Our Stories

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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community en

The Redress Origins of the Hidden Histories of San Jose Japantown: A Conversation with Susan Hayase and Tom Izu

Carp flags (koinobori) are floating in front of me, their mouths open. Tanzaku are fluttering in a virtual wind. Fragments of the “Instructions to Persons of Japanese Ancestry” poster are floating around an empty lot. Black-and-white photos of a Japanese American doctor float by the Issei Memorial Building. In one space I hear strains of “We are the Children” by Chris Iijima and Nobuko Miyamoto; in another space I hear the thunder of taiko drums and watch community dancers celebrating at a Bon Odori. And there is more, much more, as I watch video after video of art …

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