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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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 …

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Nikkei Ramen-ya: Fresh-made Noodles and Living Wages in the Heart of the Comox Valley

When Greg Masuda and his wife Erin opened Courtenay’s first ramen shop in the fall of 2016, it was welcomed with open arms by the residents of this small British Columbia town nestled in the heart of the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island.

Nikkei Ramen-ya, located in a former jewelry shop, serves their own handmade noodles, made daily. Frequent experimentation, and specials like ebi ramen, made with wild sidestripe shrimp and local pea shoots, have ensured that the menu stays varied, and made the shop a hit with customers. A visit to their online ordering page reveals ten kinds …

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Taking Flight After The Tumult

Little Tokyo and yearning for meaning and hope in the power of place.

A bird taking flight.

Little Tokyo is a small neighborhood of artists and activists, of commerce and spirituality, of parades and protests, densely layered by its long history and its proximity to the seats of power.

And so, in early June, Nihonmachi, wounded by a week of turbulence and tumult that has shaken an entire nation, took to the task of rebuilding and reforming a community. Summoning up, once again, those reserves of resiliency that have served the Japanese American community for so many generations.

Individuals, each …

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Pilates Keeps Centenarian Healthy During Quarantine

TORONTO — On Nisei Masako Okawara‘s birthday, she looked out the window to see her two granddaughters and their families in the parking lot of her North Scarborough condo next to a sign reading, “Happy 100th Birthday!”

The rest of the day was filled with phone calls, flower deliveries, and a zoom video conference call with friends and family singing Happy Birthday, while she blew out the candle on an ice cream treat. Her five grandchildren made virtual flowers, since Okawara loves flowers, as one of the original members of the Toronto Ikenobo Ikebana Society.

It was not the …

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George Freeth, the Village of Maikura, and the 1918-1920 Pandemic

In December 1908, at the age of 25, the “father of surfing” George Freeth saved the lives of nine Japanese American and two Russian American fishermen off Venice beach when a violent Pacific storm lashed the coast. For his heroic actions, Freeth was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for bravery.

In April 1919, at the age of 35, the Hawaiian-born Freeth—noted for his physical fitness and still in his prime—died after a long battle with the flu virus spreading across the globe. He was the first person to surf the Huntington Beach pier at its re-dedication in 1914.

Freeth was a …

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artists Canada citizenship covid-19 exercise flu health higashi honganji buddhist temple interdependence Japanese Canadian Juneteenth Kizuna2020 little tokyo Maikura naturalization pandemic pilates quarantine racism ramen rescue restaurant social distancing surfer US citizenship