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

identity en

The Journey to Discovery

Melinda Yamane Crawford has forged a path to merge her personal endeavors of family discovery while helping others do the same. As a member of the Santa Barbara County Genealogical Society, Melinda had the resources, insight, and passion to co-found the Nikkei Genealogical Society specifically for the Japanese American community.

Like all immigrant stories, the Nikkei experience is varied in rich but complicated history. It’s akin to putting together a large puzzle with pieces representing timelines, geography, marriages, births, social changes, and worldwide events. Navigating through intricate webs of family roots is a challenging and overwhelming endeavor—uncovering details of lineages …

Read more

culture en

Random Awesomeness Brought to You by Random Ninjas!

Ninjas? Check!

Fetching tunes? Check!

Insanely talented musicians? Check!

Taiko drums? Why not?

So goes the story of Random Ninjas, an LA-based band that plays a mixed bag of pop, jazz, metal, and rock music. The fusion is anything but normal, but oh so captivating. With their whimsical lyrics and delightfully unconventional blend of instruments, the end result is pure entertainment. The taiko drums, a keytar, and stellar vocals all help to increase the cool factor.

The band represents the beautiful diversity of Los Angeles and the eclectic artists and musicians that inhabit it. The cultural influences may seem obvious, …

Read more

identity en

Nikkei Chronicles #4—Nikkei Family: Memories, Traditions, and Values

Taste of Okinawa


The sound of deep-frying on the stovetop fills the house as my mom prepares her authentic andagi, our family’s favorite snack. Andagi is basically an Okinawan donut: flour, sugar, and eggs. They’re deep-fried to a golden crisp and doughy on the inside with just the right amount of sweetness—not too much, not too little, just perfect.

My childhood is full of fond memories of my mom standing by the stove making andagi, or as my family called them, sata tempura. I knew even then as a child that it made her happy to see me and …

Read more

media en

Honor and Sacrifice: Revealing Roy Matsumoto’s Story

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. They are found in our local communities, schools, and workplaces. And sometimes their stories make it to the six o’clock news while others remain under a blanket of anonymity and secrecy, buried from public knowledge.

Roy Matsumoto’s story was hidden under such a blanket for 50 years as ordered by the U.S. government. Now, Roy’s secret missions as a World War II soldier and linguist in the U.S. Army’s Military Intelligence Service (MIS) are revealed in a film aptly titled Honor & Sacrifice.

The film, produced by a husband and wife team …

Read more

media en

Film: Reiko's Hina Dolls

“It’s 1935. A Japanese family making their start in Canada receives a special gift from the country they left behind—a beautiful set of Hina dolls.”

And so begins Reiko’s Hina Dolls, written and directed by Komaki Matsui.

Matsui, who was born and raised in Aichi prefecture in Japan, began her career as a writer. She landed a position as a magazine editor soon after graduating from university in Japan. It was during this time that Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine had come out. “I was shocked by his very opinionated documentary style and thought I wanted to make movies, …

Read more