Kizuna 2020: Nikkei Kindness and Solidarity During the COVID-19 Pandemic

In Japanese, kizuna means strong emotional bonds. In 2011, we invited our global Nikkei community to contribute to a special series about how Nikkei communities reacted to and supported Japan following the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Now, we would like to bring together stories about how Nikkei families and communities are being impacted by, and responding and adjusting to this world crisis.

If you would like to participate, please see our submission guidelines. We welcome submissions in English, Japanese, Spanish, and/or Portuguese, and are seeking diverse stories from around the world. We hope that these stories will help to connect us, creating a time capsule of responses and perspectives from our global Nima-kai community for the future.

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Although many events around the world have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have noticed that many new online only events are being organized. Since they are online, anyone can participate from anywhere in the world. If your Nikkei organization is planning a virtual event, please post it on Discover Nikkei’s Events section! We will also share the events via Twitter @discovernikkei. Hopefully, it will help to connect us in new ways, even as we are all isolated in our homes.

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A Different Perspective: A Nikkeijin's Questions on Humanity's Responses to Economic Uncertainty

Is ignorance really bliss? What does it mean when people say, “I can’t wait for things to go back to normal”? What is defined as “normal”? Is “going back to normal” achievable after over 2.6 million deaths worldwide due to the Coronavirus—with over 530,000 Coronavirus-related deaths in the US alone? Also, what does it mean to be Economically stable at this point in time?

In this article, I want to reflect from an Economic Anthropological perspective. This means I intend to focus on the issues of humanity neither based on rational decision-making nor based on actual scarcity of economic resources. …

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Azay is Leading The Way

Philip Hirose, co-owner of Azay — a Japanese fusion restaurant in Little Tokyo, which he runs with his mother Jo Ann and father, Akira — faced not just the challenge of opening a new restaurant, but also coping with pandemic shutdowns just six months after opening.

“Lunch was our busiest time due to the city government workers,” he explained. “Now with them not in their offices — it was a huge blow.”

Azay opened on Sept. 14, 2019 and is located at 226 E. First St (near San Pedro Street) in Little Tokyo. It took Hirose and his mother a …

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Clothing for All Generations

As small businesses across the U.S. struggle to stay afloat in the midst of the current pandemic and economic down-turn, Alec Nakashima is extremely grateful that his clothing company, Akashi-Kama, has been able to adapt to this “moment in time” and survive — giving him the opportunity to help his community and look toward 2021 with the anticipation of better days ahead.

Nakashima launched Akashi-Kama online in May 2019, offering designs that blend the beauty of the Japanese aesthetic with an American influence. Each piece, designed by Nakashima and featuring fabrics sourced from Japan, is inspired by Nakashima’s own Japanese …

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Oshogatsu—Remembering Grandpa Sonny

When my Facebook friend suggested a submission for Discover Nikkei’s Oshogatsu photo activity, it simply opened up a floodgate of cherished memories. In my family everyone calls me Scrooge McDuck because I dread the Christmas hype, from gift giving to tree decorations, cookie-baking, and the card exchanges that for me, are simply “over the top.” Oshogatsu, on the other hand, is something I love and anticipate each year. Oshogatsu—the way my family celebrates it—is an event imposed by me in reverse to my family as if in repentance for the Christmas extravagances.

It dawned on me some years ago …

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Dreaming of travel to Japan

During the last week of October, there was a lot on my mind, including Covid-19 and the ongoing pandemic, and of course the November U.S. elections. But I also found myself at a moment in time, looking back one year that week to a 2019 family trip to Japan, and looking forward to next year with the hopes that we’ll be able to return.

Longtime readers know I was born in Japan and moved to the U.S. when I was a kid. You also know that I always advocate for Americans – and especially Japanese Americans – to travel to …

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akashi-kama Akira Hirose Alec Nakashima Azay clothing community covid-19 culture economic anthropology economy family fashion food fusion holiday Japan Jo Ann Hirose Kizuna2020 little tokyo Mixed new year oshogatsu pandemic Philip Hirose race