Discover Nikkei

Nikkei Heritage

Sept. 29, 2005 - Oct. 26, 2016

This series republishes selected articles from Nikkei Heritage, the quarterly journal of the National Japanese American Historical Society in San Francisco, CA. The issues provide timely analysis and insight into the many facets of the Japanese American experience. NJAHS has been a Discover Nikkei Participating Organization since December 2004.

Visit the National Japanese American Historical Society Web site >>

Stories from this series

Thumbnail for A Look at the Emigration of Identity from Japan to America
A Look at the Emigration of Identity from Japan to America

Oct. 26, 2016 • Ben Hamamoto

When we talk about the state of the Japanese American community today, one of the most common remarks is how incredibly diverse we are. Nikkei Americans have high-rates of out-marriage to white Americans and other Asian Americans. While this is legitimately new and different from the Japanese America of decades past, the community was never as homogenous as its reputation suggests. In actuality, the Issei brought diverse identities with them from Japan – in particular, centered around the prefecture they …

Thumbnail for The Evolving Japanese American Identity - Part 2
The Evolving Japanese American Identity - Part 2

Oct. 19, 2016 • Jane H. Yamashiro

Read Part 1 >> Connected to Japanese Society and Culture Many Shin-Nisei (children of post war Japanese immigrants) on the U.S. continent do not identify with being Japanese American because to them it suggests a history of incarceration and cultural distance from Japan. For those whose parents came from Japan after World War II, their family history of the war was from the Japan side, not the U.S. side. Rather than experiencing incarceration, close relatives may have experienced the atomic …

Thumbnail for The Evolving Japanese American Identity - Part 1
The Evolving Japanese American Identity - Part 1

Oct. 18, 2016 • Jane H. Yamashiro

Slideshow above:  The few remaining urban enclaves of Japanese American culture and identity. Have you ever thought about what it means to identify as Japanese American? Why do some people use the term ”Nikkei American” instead of “Japanese American”? Over the past 60 years, Nikkei American demographics have been changing significantly. These changes include low immigration rates from Japan (leading to a decreasing Nikkei American population relative to the rest of the Asian American population), an aging population, an increase …

Thumbnail for Oshogatsu - A Japanese Tradition in America
Oshogatsu - A Japanese Tradition in America

Jan. 3, 2012 • Tamio Spiegel

When I met Julie, we shared a desire to keep our house open to our friends and community as much as possible. 1984 was our first oshogatsu as a couple. Her family did nishime. I had never heard of it before. I couldn’t imagine New Year’s without ozoni. Julie was obsessed with kuromame and chestnuts in a sweet sauce. What about those bowtie seaweed things? No self-respecting Japanese-American celebration is complete without cha siu, Chinese roast pork. We could do …

Thumbnail for Something Mixed, Chanpuru and Other Okinawan Delights
Something Mixed, Chanpuru and Other Okinawan Delights

July 20, 2011 • Margaret Bacon

In 2001 a team of internationally renowned experts released The Okinawa Program, How The World’s Longest-Lived People Achieve Everlasting Health – And How You Can Too. The book, based on a 25-year study, was quickly snatched up as the new fountain of youth (or at least key to longevity) only to be realized as yet another common sense approach to healthy eating and living. Okinawa might be a tropical island, but it’s hardly considered glamorous. The traditional Okinawan diet consists …

Thumbnail for Taste Buds Memory of a Childhood on a JA Strawberry Farm
Taste Buds Memory of a Childhood on a JA Strawberry Farm

June 22, 2011 • Chizu Omori

I don’t quite know what to make of the notion of Japanese American food. What I can talk about is what I ate as a child and as an adult, and how my diet and tastes have changed and how I still eat plenty of foods that I ate as a child. I grew up on farms in Southern California during the pre World War II days. My mother was a Kibei-Nisei, which is to say that she was born …

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Authors in This Series

Margaret Bacon is a writer of Okinawan and Anglo descent. Being only half Okinawan, she may not live to 100, but she will continue to enjoy andagi until she kicks. She writes from her home in San Francisco while trying to aquire a taste for mugwort tea.

Updated Winter 2009

Fredrick Douglas Kakinami Cloyd was born in Japan shortly after the U.S. Occupation officially ended. His African-American/Cherokee father was an occupation soldier in Korea and Japan while Fredrick’s mother—a Japanese/Chinese/Austro-Hungarian girl of the war-ruins was from an elite nationalist family in Japan. Transnational racisms and sexisms during the rise of U.S. and Japanese global stature presents a foundation through which Fredrick weaves his stories of memory and family history.

He received a masters degree from a postcolonial/feminist-oriented social cultural anthropology program at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. He feeds his love of Asian and Latin foods, coffee, TV shows, music, and steam trains while working on his first interstitial auto-ethnography entitled: “Dream of the Water Children, dream of the water children.”

Updated May 2011

Nina Kahori Fallenbaum is a mixed-generation Nikkei born and raised in Berkeley, California. A graduate of UC Berkeley and Meiji Gakuin University, she has contributed to Civil Eats, Nikkei Heritage, and Nichi Bei Times.

Updated July 2009

Tracey Fugami is the Curator of Collections and Exhibitions at the Paine Art Center in Wisconsin. She profiled Fujiko Isomura and Loren Demster for the "Traditions Transformed" issue of Nikkei Heritage .

Updated September 29, 2005

Tets Furukawa was the starting pitcher for the champion Gila River Eagles. A retired strawberry farmer, writer and historian, Tets was one of the honorees who attended the “Hall of Fame” Night in August 2006. He resides in Santa Maria.

Updated Winter 2006

Donna Graves, the director of Preserving California’s Japantown Project, is an historian and cultural planner based in Berkeley, California.

Updated October 2008

Ben Hamamoto is a researcher at Institute for the Future, a non-profit think-tank that helps people and organizations think about the future. He's a former staff writer/current contributor to the Nichi Bei Weekly and editor of the Nikkei Heritage magazine for the National Japanese American Historical Society.

Updated August 2017

Ken Kaji is on both the Nikkei Heritage editorial board and a board member for National Japanese American Historical Society.

Updated Spring 2002

Jessica Kawamura is a student at Brown University in Rhode Island. She is studying conversational Japanese, African American history and the Southeast Asian American experience. In her spare time, she is an organizer in the Asian American community. She was an intern at National Japanese American Histiorical Society in 2004.

Updated February 23, 2006

George Kitahara Kich, Ph.D., was until recently a professor of psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies. He is a trial consultant for National Jury Project- West in Oakland.

Updated Fall 1998

Greg Kimura lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from Sierra Nevada College. His poetry has been published in the Louisville Review, Rattle, Chrysalis Review, RE:AL and other publications.

Update February 23, 2006


Rebecca Chiyoko King, Ph.D., is assistant professor of sociology at the University of San Francisco.

Updated Fall 1998

World-traveled journalist Sydnie Kohara anchors the CBS 5 Eyewitness News Early Edition and makes her home in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Updated Summer 2004

Formerly of Chicago, Alec Yoshio MacDonald is a writer and editor living in Oakland, California. His work has appeared in the Nichi Bei Times, Hyphen magazine, Nikkei Heritage, Pacific Citizen, and the Chicago Shimpo.

Updated February 2006

Wayne Maeda is the Project Director for the Sacramento Regional Japanese American 1992 Exhibit and published for the opening of the Sacramento History Museum’s “Continuing Traditions: Japanese Americans, A Story of People, 1869-1992.”

Updated Winter 1996

Gaye Miyasaki is a contributing writer. She resides in Hawaii and is a member of the NJAHS Board of Directors.

Updated Summer 2008

Dr. Tooru Nemoto has long worked with marginalized populations in the San Francisco Bay Area. He spearheaded the Targeted Expansion Project for Outreach and Treatment (TEPOT) at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). The project was the first in the nation funded by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to provide substance abuse and HIV prevention targeting high-risk APIs, including men who have sex with other men, transgender women and men, sex workers, incarcerated men and substance abusers. Researchers on his team were some of the only workers conducting consistent outreach in sex clubs and bars and providing HIV prevention education and sensitivity training programs nationwide at substance abuse treatment programs. In an effort to prevent disease, but also drug abuse and violence in a population that is off the radar of mainstream society, and often does not enjoy the same protections, they cultivated relationships for over 10 years by sending health educators, fluent in Thai, Vietnamese and Korean, to massage parlors and identifying and speaking with the management of 20 establishments. 

Updated Summer 2008

The Reverend John Oda is the Senior Pastor at Pine United Methodist Church. He holds a Masters in Social Welfare and a Masters of Divinity. For a number of years he worked in non-profits as well as in higher education. Reverend Oda has also served as the Youth Minister at Berkeley Methodist United Church as a chaplain at Marin General Hospital. He would like to express his appreciation to Dr. Matsuoka for his assistance in the creation of this article and for providing some of the basic ideas for this work.

Updated Spring 2001

Chizu Omori is a freelance journalist and critic whose work can be found in the Nichi Bei Times and Seattle's International Examiner.

Updated Winter 2009

Writer and artist Judith van Praag moved from the Netherlands to Seattle, WA, where she covers art, artists and architecture, books and entertainment. She conducts architectural tours of the Seattle Central Public Library, which was designed by her countryman Rem Koolhaas. Reach her at

Updated February 23, 2006

Former editor of Nikkei Heritage, the magazine of the National Japanese American Historical Society.

Updated 2009

Margaret Schulze is a contributor to Nikkei West, Nikkei Family and a member of the Nikkei Heritage editorial board.

Updated May 4, 2006

Shizue Seigel is a Sansei writer and visual artist based in San Francisco. Her family was displaced by incarceration from Pismo Beach and Stockton, California, and she grew up an Army brat in segregated Baltimore, Occupied Japan, California skid rows and sharecropping camps. She is a Jefferson Award winner, three-time San Francisco Arts Commission Artist Grant recipient, and a VONA/Voices fellow. Her seven books include In Good Conscience: Supporting Japanese Americans during the Internment, My First Hundred Years: The Memoirs of Nellie Nakamura, and four anthologies of Bay Area writers and artists of color. Her prose and poetry have been published in We’ve Been Too Patient, All the Women in My Family Sing, Your Golden Sun Still Shines, InvAsian, Cheers to Muses, Empty Shoes, Away Journal, Eleven Eleven, Persimmon Tree, Lunchbox Moments, and elsewhere.

Updated May 2022

Larry Hajime Shinagawa, Ph.D., who is a professor of American Multicultural Studies at Sonoma State University, is working on a book whose working title is Asian American Intermarriage and the Social Construction of Love . It is based on the studies of census and marriage license data and on interview of over 100 people It will be published by Beacon Pres in the fall of 1999.

Updated Fall 1998

Tamio Spiegel is a bi-racial Japanese American native New Yorker. He is an independent consultant who has advised businesses in Asia and the US on manufacturing, product development, and cross-Pacific trading. He is a past Executive Director of The Gohan Society, a New York City-based non-profit organization that promotes Japanese food and food culture. He has written on arts and current affairs for NY NichibeiAsianWeek, and Nikkei Heritage.

Updated October 2017

Rod Tatsuno lives in Sun Valley, Idaho. Contact him at Learn more about his son, Chris Tatsuno, winner of the coveted “Sickbird” award at the 2006 Freeskiing Telluride Open, at

Updated Winter 2006

Sheridan Tatsuno is a graduate of Yale and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and has authored two books: The Technopolis Strategy (Prentice-Hall, 1986) and Created in Japan (HarperCollins, 1990). He is a contributing writer to Nikkei Heritage and is an advisor to the National Japanese American Historical Society. He speaks Japanese, Spanish, and French.

Updated Spring 2008.

Masao Ito Taylor is a junior at Albany High. He plays basketball on the East Bay Rising Suns and Berkeley Sangha. He played on the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California’s ShinzenBasketball Goodwill Team from 2003-2006. Like coach Kagawa he played baseball with the Berkeley Bears. He writes for the Albany High School Cougar, runs track and cross country, plays piano, and enjoys photography, hanging out with friends, listening to music, and playing video games.

Updated Winter 2006

Patricia Wakida is the editor of two publications on the Japanese American experience, Only What We Could Carry: The Japanese American Internment Experience, and Unfinished Message: the collected works of Toshio Mori. For the past fifteen years, she has worked as a literary and community historian, including Associate Curator of History at the Japanese American National Museum, Contributing Editor for Discover Nikkei website, and as an Associate Editor of the Densho Encyclopedia project. She serves on various non-profit boards including Poets & Writers California, Kaya Press, and the California Studies Association. Patricia has worked as an apprentice papermaker in Gifu, Japan and as an apprentice letterpress printer and hand bookbinder in California; she maintains her own linoleum block and letterpress business under the Wasabi Press imprint. She is a Yonsei, whose parents were incarcerated as children in the Jerome (Arkansas) and Gila River (Arizona) American concentration camps. She lives in Oakland, California with her husband Sam and Gosei, Hapa (Japanese Mexican) son, Takumi.

Updated August 2017

Eriko Yamamoto is a historian specializing in Japanese American history and currently a professor at Aichi Mizuho College.  She holds a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Hawai`i at Manoa and an MA from Claremont Graduate University History Department.  Her past affiliations include the East-West Center (EWC grantee), Sugiyama Jogakuen University (professor of American Studies), the UCLA Asian American Studies Center (1998-99 Fulbright Visiting Scholar), and the Japanese American National Museum (Nikkei Legacy Project manager).  She is a life member of Oral History Association (U.S.) and one of the founders of Japan Oral History Association.

Updated January 2016

Jane H. Yamashiro is an independent scholar based in Berkeley, California, specializing in sociology, Asian American studies, and Asian studies. She is a graduate of UC San Diego (B.A.) and the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa (M.A., Ph.D.) and has previously been a Visiting Scholar at the University of Tokyo, Sophia University, USC, and UCLA. She is the author of Redefining Japaneseness: Japanese Americans in the Ancestral Homeland, forthcoming January 2017 with Rutgers University Press.

Updated October 2016

George Yoshida is keeping it real in El Cerrito, CA.

Updated December 2006

Erin Yoshioka is a freelance writer/artist. She has published work on the California Three Strikes Law/incarceration system and on renewable energy. She has organized with Literacy for Environmental Justice and the Department of Public Health. She currently is a member of the Trust Your Struggle Artist Collective, residing in New York.

Updated Summer 2008

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