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.

* * * * *

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.

culture en

Japanese Canadian Art in the Time of Covid-19 - Part 1

How do worldwide issues of crisis like a World War or pandemic affect the way artists work?

While I am not aware of any Japanese Canadian artists who were active early in our settlement of Canada, one American Nisei sculptor Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988) born in Los Angeles, California, is certainly one of the best known sculptors anywhere. His father was the well-known poet, Yone, and his mother the educator-writer Leonie Gilmour (1873-1933) who edited much of Isamu’s writing. Although little is made of the times he was born into, Isamu lived through the Spanish Pandemic of 1918, World War One, …

Read more

community en

America’s Ugly History of Xenophobia Resurges with COVID-19

If there’s anything that COVID-19 revealed, it is that xenophobia never went away; it was just hidden. With the rise of COVID-19 cases, hate crimes targeting Asians have increased after having decreased in the 21st century.

Xenophobia is the fear or hatred of foreigners, people from different cultures or strangers.1 It is the dislike or fear of the customs of people culturally different from oneself. It’s important to note that xenophobia is very similar to racism. However, it differs from racism because racism is rooted in the belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits, while xenophobia …

Read more

community en

Kizuna 2020: My Birthday Wish

As I celebrated my 72nd birthday on January 1, 2020 with my family, we greeted each other with Shinnen Akemashite Omedeto Gozaimasu (Happy New Year) and toasted with sparkling apple cider. My family started the day with ozoni (soup with rice cake). Our dining table was full of osechi ryori (Japanese New Year’s Day food) inside two-tier lacquer boxes called jubako. All day long we ate our favorite Japanese foods. My husband would eat his inari sushi, futomaki sushi with renkon (lotus root), gobo (burdock root), and salmon. My oldest son loved sashimi with hot rice …

Read more

community en

JANM Volunteers in the Time of Covid

40 staff and 200 volunteers are the human resource numbers for the Japanese American National Museum. With volunteers outnumbering staff 5:1, the hallways and the Takei Volunteer Center became much quieter places in early March when, for health safety reasons, we had to ask they no longer come into the Museum until further notice.

With half of our volunteers having been part of the JANM forces for 10 or more years, there are definite bonds that have formed between staff and volunteers. Daily questions were: Is everybody okay? Is everyone safe?

Volunteers consistently voiced concerns about staff and asked if …

Read more

identity en

The Karma of Becoming American

In the section under COVID-19 safety precautions, the Department of Homeland Security letter addressed to me mandated facemasks and banned guests for my newly re-scheduled naturalization ceremony. Given fears that the virus might serve as a pretext for a complete shutdown of immigration and naturalization, it was a huge relief to find out that the ceremony would take place at all. The original date for the ceremony had been scheduled for March 19, the very day that California governor Newsom issued a statewide stay-at-home order.

I had always imagined this conclusion of a long path towards citizenship would take place …

Read more


art artist Canada citizenship community covid-19 interdependence janm Japanese American National Museum Japanese Canadian Juneteenth Kizuna 2020 Kizuna2020 naturalization pandemic racism reconnect US citizenship volunteers xenophobia