2018 Nima of the Month

Nima are members of our Discover Nikkei Nima-kai community. Our Nima of the Month are some of our most active participants. Learn more about them and what they like about Discover Nikkei.

January 2018

GabyOshiro (Colorado, United States)

Artist and musician Gaby Oshiro was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and grew up in Treviso, Italy. In 2016, she shared the powerful story of her father’s abduction by the Argentine military when she was just five years old. She has not seen him since.

[EN] My favorite thing about collaborating with Discover Nikkei is that I get to share pieces of my life and my family with other Nikkei around the world. I also like reading the articles posted every week to learn about history, art, and life experiences. George Takei’s articles are among my favorites.

When Yoko Nishimura asked me to write an article in 2016, I couldn’t decline, even though it was a bit scary for me to write for an audience. I wanted to be a witness to my parents’ lives and deeds, and tell their story so that other people may know about them. Painting and singing were always “my thing,” so writing was out of my comfort zone. But this experience has opened a new way of expression for me that I now work on alongside my artwork.

Read Gaby’s articles [EN] >>

[ES] Me gusta colaborar con DN porque puedo compartir fragmentos de mi vida y de mi familia con otros Nikkei alrededor del mundo, me gusta también leer los artículos que se publican sobre historia, arte y experiencias de vida. También los que hablan de George Takei.

Cuando Yoko Nishimura, la editora de DN me pidió que escribiera un articulo en el 2016, al principio me dió un poco de miedo narrar para un público, pero la voluntad de hacer conocer la historia de mis padres fue mas fuerte. Siempre lo mío era pintar o cantar, poder escribir me abrió una nueva forma de expresión que llevo contemporáneamente con mi trabajo pictórico.

Lea los articulos de Gaby [ES] >>

February 2018

Masaji (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

Norm Ibuki (Masaji) has written extensively about the Canadian Nikkei community since the early 1990s. Since 2009, he has been one of Discover Nikkei’s most prolific contributors; in March 2010, he was named Nima of the Month. In addition to continuing to share Canadian stories on our site, he has also introduced many Canadian readers and writers to Discover Nikkei.

[EN] I remember being a kid in suburban Toronto in the 1970s and ’80s, reading the stories of Frank Moritsugu and Terry Watada in the now defunct New Canadian newspaper for Japanese Canadians. Even then, I had an inkling that I wanted to take up the Nikkei cause in my small way and help to tell the JC story. Now, after more than two decades of interviewing JCs and writing about us from here and from Japan where I lived for nine years, I know that every one of our individual stories is unique and compelling and has an audience of eager readers who want to know more.

By reading the stories in Discover Nikkei, I’ve learned that we are a strong and resilient community that has contributed a lot to the making of Canada. We should never forget the Issei who dared to leave Japan in the late 1800s and who were not defeated by racism, World War II dispossession and internment, and even “dispersal” east of the Rockies and to Japan. Their legacy survives.

Our leaders today know that education is the key. If you are an educator as I am, I would encourage you to teach our history to your students. Share your stories. Every lesson is a step toward ensuring that the next generation is a better informed one. To our elders, please share your personal stories. And, to younger Nikkei, please ask your relatives about their experiences. Share family pictures and memories of life in BC where the vast majority of our stories began. We come from a remarkable people.

Finally, what really drives my continued commitment to writing for Discover Nikkei is the thought that there might be a kid out there reading my stories who might be influenced in some small way—just as I was, way back when, by Frank and Terry.

Read Norm’s articles >>

March 2018

silvialumy (São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil)

Silvia Lumy Akioka first started writing for Discover Nikkei in 2009, sharing her experiences as a student in Japan. She was selected as Nima of the Month that same year. In 2012, she visited Los Angeles for three weeks, during which she volunteered for Discover Nikkei. She has continued to help us as a volunteer ever since.

Although Silvia hasn’t contributed as many stories lately, she has been a tremendous help to us as a volunteer behind the scenes. She has assisted us with Portuguese transcriptions, translations, and helping us to communicate with our Portuguese-speaking users. This has been invaluable to us since no one on the staff knows Portuguese!

We asked her a few questions about the importance of Discover Nikkei. Below are her answers.

Why do you volunteer for Discover Nikkei?

I consider Discover Nikkei part of Nikkei history and heritage and that is why I like to contribute in some way to this interesting project.

What is the most important thing you have gained from participating in Discover Nikkei?

The texts I read and the testimonials I watch bring me a feeling of affinity—an indescribable feeling of belonging, affection, gratitude for our ancestors, and pride over our roots.

Why should people participate in Discover Nikkei?

Everyone is welcome to join Discover Nikkei and help us to enrich this legacy, which will remain for the next generations to discover.

Por que você é voluntário(a) do Descubra Nikkei?

Considero o Descubra Nikkei parte da história nikkei e patrimônio e por isso gosto de contribuir de alguma forma com esse projeto interessante.

O que você ganhou de mais importante participando do Descubra Nikkei?

Os textos que leio e depoimentos que assisto, trazem uma sensação de afinidade - um sentimento indescritível de pertencimento, de carinho e gratidão por nossos antepassados e orgulho de nossas raízes.

Por que as pessoas deveriam participar do Descubra Nikkei?

Todos são bem vindos para participar do Descubra Nikkei e nos ajudar a enriquecer este legado que ficará para as próximas gerações descobrirem.

April 2018

nealtoon (California, United States)

Neal Yamamoto is a Yonsei (fourth generation) Japanese American freelance artist who has contributed humorous illustrations, cartoons, and comic art for over a hundred books, comics, magazines, and educational publications nationwide. He also teaches cartooning and comic book illustration workshops at California State University, Los Angeles, Pasadena City College, Glendale Adult Education, and Santa Monica City College.

Discover Nikkei has been publishing his “My Name is Neal” cartoon series every Saturday since November 2007. We first selected him as Nima of the Month in July 2011. We asked him a few questions about the importance of Discover Nikkei. Below are his answers.

Over the past 10+ years, we have published over 530 “My Name is Neal” cartoons on Discover Nikkei. Which ones have been your most favorite or have seemed to resonate the most with people?

Wow, I’ve done that many cartoons? I hope most of them were entertaining! Oddly enough, the ones that tend to stick in my mind the most are the ones that weren’t humorous, like the ones that have to do with the atomic bomb or about the 100th/442nd battalion.

What drives you to continue creating the series? Why is Discover Nikkei an important place to include a cartoon series like this?

I keep doing it because I like having a forum to express/share my thoughts, humor, angst, or whatever weird trivia that happens to catch and hold my attention.

I don’t know if my cartoon is important in any way, shape, or form, but the forum in which it exists is; Discover Nikkei informs and entertains in a way that educates people about culture and diversity, which is essential to fully understanding our race (that being the Human Race, of course).

Check out Neal’s comics >>

May 2018

jaykun (San Diego, California, United States)

Jay Horinouchi is a Japanese American artist now working as an interpreter/designer in San Diego, California after living in Tokyo, Japan for about six years. Originally from Northern California, he graduated from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.

Although he has only shared one story on Discover Nikkei (about his experience in Japan following the 2011 earthquake), Jay has made his mark on the project artistically. He is the creator of many of our Nikkei Chronicles logos—ITADAKIMASU!, Nikkei+, Itadakimasu 2!, and this year’s Nikkei Roots.

What do you like about Discover Nikkei and why?

I love the Nikkei stories that I am able to discover and connect with, and reflect on how that relates to my family’s story. There’s always a new story to discover, that feels a little nostalgic, even if it’s not my personal story. Discover Nikkei is an amazing portal that brings all this together, and is very inspiring.

What have you enjoyed the most about creating logo designs for the Nikkei Chronicles? Where have the ideas for the designs come from?

When I first start to sketch ideas, it’s always a trip down memory lane, remembering the things that I grew up with, and rediscovering what I really enjoyed. For example, I absolutely love spam-musubi, I even dressed up as spam-musubi for Halloween once. So the previous two years had spam incorporated in the design. So this year, I told myself I wouldn’t add any spam, but was quite difficult to restrain myself. But I feel these drawings are small reflections of myself, so I just try to enjoy the process as much as possible.

Read his 2011 article >>

See his Nikkei Chronicles logo designs >>

June 2018

Stankirk (Canada)

Stan Kirk is from originally from Canada, but now lives in Ashiya City, Japan with his wife and son. He teaches English at the Institute for Language and Culture at Konan University in Kobe. Recently Stan has been researching and writing the life histories of Japanese Canadians who were exiled to Japan at the end of World War II.

We are currently publishing Stan’s series about Basil Izumi who was born into a Japanese Canadian Anglican family in Vancouver shortly before the war. He and his family were sent to several camps near Lake Slocan during the war, and after they were exiled to Japan. They returned to Canada three years later. The series includes a brief historical overview of the relationship between the Anglican Church and Japanese Canadians.

What do you like about Discover Nikkei and why?

Reading the various stories contributed by other writers to the site has really impressed me and broadened my knowledge of the Nikkei experience. It has been deeply moving to see what makes the various life stories on the site both similar to and different from the life histories that I myself have researched and written.

Read Stan's articles >>

July 2018

Art_Hansen (California, United States)

Art Hansen is Professor Emeritus of History and Asian American Studies at California State University, Fullerton, where he retired in 2008 as the director of the Center for Oral and Public History. He has worked with the Japanese American National Museum staff on numerous projects, including Discover Nikkei, and has published many articles and book reviews in various publications.

Art has been contributing articles to our site since 2009 and was previously selected Nima of the Month in May 2013. We asked him a few questions about the importance of Discover Nikkei.

What about Discover Nikkei makes it an important resources for scholars, writers, researchers, and students?

The main thing that appeals to me about Discover Nikkei as a scholar of Japanese American history, society, and culture is that it situates the Japanese American experience into a global, cosmopolitan context.

In what ways have you found Discover Nikkei useful?

The principal way that I avail myself of the rich content of the Discover Nikkei site is as a repository for answering virtually any question or concern that crops up in my ongoing research and writing on pan-Japanese topics.

Read Art’s articles >>

August 2018

kmatsuno (Glendale, California, United States)

Kira Matsuno is currently an undergraduate at the University of California at Riverside studying business. She is presently working with Discover Nikkei and the Japanese American Bar Association through a summer internship as part of the Nikkei Community Internship (NCI) program. Recently, she spent time with the Honorable Fumiko Hachiya Wasserman, a judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court. She recorded the judge’s oral history and will soon publish a story about her experiences with the Judge Wasserman. Outside of her work and studies, Matsuno is an avid fan of fishing and sees the activity as a way to stay connected to her Japanese roots and community.

What do you like about Discover Nikkei and why?

One of my favorite parts of the Discover Nikkei website is the map of Nima-Kai. It is amazing to see how widespread this community is, and is still able to be connected to one another. Discover Nikkei helps break down the language barrier by translating articles and getting people engaged online. I started contributing to the website through the Nikkei Community Internship program. I have had the privilege of seeing the work that goes into this program, and how the team is constantly working to improve it.

It is extremely important for people to not lose their connection to history, heritage, and community. Discover Nikkei is an outlet that provides the space for those values to grow and keeps people informed on current events that are making an impact in the community. I have begun to see how important it is to recognize, appreciate, and learn from those who have done so much with their lives for the community. It has gotten me thinking about how I can give back so that younger generations can benefit just as I have.

Read Kira’s articles >>

September 2018

Greg (Quebec, Canada)

Greg Robinson, a contributor to Discover Nikkei since 2009, grew up in New York City and is currently a professor of history at l'Université du Québec À Montréal. His books include By Order of the President: FDR and the Internment of Japanese Americans (Harvard University Press, 2001), A Tragedy of Democracy: Japanese Confinement in North America (Columbia University Press, 2009), and The Great Unknown: Japanese American Sketches (University Press of Colorado, 2016). His latest book is the co-edited volume John Okada: The Life & Rediscovered Work of the Author of No-No Boy (University of Washington Press, 2018). Greg was previously selected Nima of the Month in October 2013.

What role does Discover Nikkei play in the sharing of global Nikkei stories?

Discover Nikkei plays an important role in publishing and sharing stories of global Nikkei. For one thing, the fact that it appears in multilingual versions and includes stories from outside the United States helps in disseminating information. The first time that I was Nima of the Month, five years ago, I commented on how pleased I was by coverage of Japanese Canadians. Now I also find the coverage of Latin America useful.

Some years ago, I met a distinguished Cuban, with whom I discussed the wartime internment of Cuban Japanese. I was sorry to learn that these events were little-known in Cuba. The man, in turn, asked me for Spanish-language material on the treatment of Japanese Americans, and I was embarrassed that I had none to give him. Nowadays I could point him to Discover Nikkei for help with both.

Even Discover Nikkei’s stories of Nikkei in the United States feature information on less-reported themes. Interestingly, when I was invited a year ago to serve as a regular contributor, the only restriction put on what subjects I could write about was that it had to be a subject that had not already been extensively explored.

What is the most meaningful thing that has happened as a result of your connection to Discover Nikkei?

Over the last years, my association with Discover Nikkei has taken different forms. In explaining the shift, I am reminded of the scholar Philip Guedalla, who (in a play of words on British Kings) wittily divided the novels of Henry James into three “reigns”: “James the First, James the Second, and the Old Pretender.” On a considerably smaller level, my own first “reign” was as a writer of extended multi-part articles, including one on the writings of Bill Hosokawa and Buddy Uno for a collaborationist Japanese newspaper in 1930s Shanghai, and another that contrasted Japanese American and Japanese Canadian “internment” films.

The second “reign” was a correspondent reporting on historical conferences: I provided dispatches from the Sedai/Keisho conferences on wartime Japanese Canadians and from the Japanese American National Museum’s 2013 Seattle conference. Since last year, I have been begun a new “reign” as a regular columnist. As with my “The Great Unknown” pieces for the Nichi Bei Weekly newspaper, I have devoted myself to reporting on unsung communities and individuals, whether it be Nisei athletes in prewar Louisiana; Gay novelist Christopher Isherwood’s views of the Japanese minority; or Loren Miller, the African American attorney who was an outstanding defender of Japanese Americans.

I have found two aspects of the work especially meaningful. First, I have been touched by the confidence of family members of the individuals I write about, who have corrected my errors, answered my questions, and provided assistance with images. Tsuyoshi Matsumoto’s daughter Helen Kagan tipped me off about a weekly newspaper column, entitled “People to People and How,” that her father wrote in the US Navy newspaper The Seahawk. My old friend Momo Yashima regaled me with stories about her parents Taro and Mitsu Yashima (subjects of a forthcoming column). GerrieLani Miyazaki, another old friend, shared with me photos of her late mother Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga.

The other aspect that I find especially meaningful has been the incitement to collaborate. The writing of pieces for DN has led me to join forces with young historians, some of them my own students. We have pooled our research and written together on an equal basis. I joined my student Maxime Minne, an expert on the history of the Panama Canal, in studying the wartime internment of ethnic Japanese in the Canal Zone—a U.S. territory all but forgotten in Nikkei history—and was gratified by the attention it received (it has had 134 shares on Facebook, far more than any other of my pieces).

Read Greg's articles >>

October 2018

jsunada (California, United States)

Mary Sunada taught in the Los Angeles Unified School District for 36 years. She is a member of the Orange County Buddhist Church, Japanese American National Museum, and the Go for Broke National Education Center. Her interests are in fishing, dancing, and traveling with family and friends.

Mary has been a Nima since 2014 and has contributed to several Nikkei Chronicles series include Nikkei Names (2014), Nikkei Family (2015), Nikkei-go (2016), and Nikkei Roots (2018). Her submission for Nikkei Names was voted a Nima-kai favorite! We asked her a few questions about the importance of Discover Nikkei.

Why is it important to you to share stories about your family, especially your father, on Discover Nikkei?

I am a daughter of a World War II US Army veteran who served in MIS (Military Intelligence Service). My father passed away when I was six months old. He was only 29, and my mom was 21. As I was growing up, Mom did not talk much about Dad. I only had a few old photos of him. My mom did save his military documents, an old address book, a Japanese/English dictionary and the American flag presented to her upon his death. My passion for knowing more about my dad grew into writing stories about and for him. These stories on Discover Nikkei were a platform for me to preserve his memory, to share my emotions with others, and to comfort me from time to time.

You have contributed to several of the Nikkei Chronicles. What do you like about the themed series?

These stories from Discover Nikkei have been about okage sama de, “because of you, I am.” This theme of family is important to me because it reveals who I am and where I came from. I began to realize that I was learning more about myself by researching my father’s documents, finding his living relatives, and traveling to Japan with the help of my husband, John. All my strength, loyalty, gratitude, and love came from my parents. I would not change any part of my life. I owe all that I am or will be to my ancestors before me. I am an essential part of them, and they will always be an important part of me.

Read Mary’s articles >>

November 2018

masayukifukasawa (Brazil)

Masayuki Fukasawa first started contributing to Discover Nikkei in 2009 with articles about Japanese Brazilians. Fukasawa himself emigrated from Japan to Brazil in 1992 and is a veteran journalist and Japanese language editor at Nikkey Shimbun, a bilingual newspaper in São Paulo.

We asked him what what he likes about Discover Nikkei and this is what he said:

[EN] In general, one’s identity in large part is shaped by the country in which he or she grew up. But, Discover Nikkei is trying to connect Nikkei identities across borders. I don’t think there has ever been an attempt like this. I feel that in such an effort, the essence of what it means to be Japanese or Nikkei gets clarified or distilled through the filter called world history. Perhaps that’s the Nikkei that this site tries to discover. It might turn out to be something that the Japanese in Japan had never imagined before. As a fan, I want to see what they’ll find on the way.

Read Masayuki’s articles >>

[JA] 普通、その人のアイデンティティの多くの部分は、生まれ育った国の影響が強い。ところが、ディスカバーニッケイは、国境を超えて、日系意識の横のつながりを広めようとしている。このような取り組みは、かつてなかったように思う。この試みによって、日本人、日系人という存在のエッセンスが明確化される、もしくは、日本人を世界史という蒸留機の中でエキスにしたものが立ち現れてくるのではないか、という気がする。それがきっと、このサイトがディスカバーしようとしているニッケイ性なのではないだろうか。それは、日本の日本人の想像を超えたようなものになるかもしれない。それをじっと、一ファンとして見守っていきたい。

深沢正雪さんの記事を読む >>

December 2018

Linko (Tennessee, United States)

Linda Cooper (Linko) was raised by a Japanese mother and a Southern father in a suburb of Memphis, Tennessee. Her father was a US Army veteran and her parents met and married in Japan during the aftermath of World War II. Linda is a communications consultant and freelance writer with more than 30 years of experience as a public relations practitioner, US Senate press secretary, and journalist.

Having written articles for Discover Nikkei starting in 2013, her bi-cultural background as a daughter of a war bride raised in the American South gives her a unique perspective to speak about Nikkei and American identities.

You have contributed to several of the Nikkei Chronicles series. What do you like about these themed series?

As a writer, the Nikkei Chronicles speak very much to my heart. The themes give me an opportunity to reflect on my bi-cultural heritage and my uniquely American life. Both of my parents have passed away, so the series offers an occasion to remember, memorialize, and honor them by sharing my family’s experiences. The articles also allow me to highlight and pay tribute to the wonderful friendship I share with my best friend of more than 45 years through our similar backgrounds and experiences.

Why is it important to share diverse stories about cultural identity, and in particular, mixed-race identity?

I think it’s important to share the history behind the more than 30,000 Japanese women who emigrated from their home country to the US in the aftermath of World War II, as the brides of US military personnel. My best friend Brenda and I, as their bi-cultural children, often struggled to assimilate as Americans. However, in all of my articles, I strived to showcase what is best about both cultures, and how we are often not so different from one another. In a time of much division in the US over issues such as immigration and race, I feel strongly that sharing our experiences and stories about diversity and mixed race can help bridge cultural divides.

Read Linda’s articles >>

Get updates

Sign up for email updates

Journal feed
Events feed
Comments feed

Support this project

Discover Nikkei

Discover Nikkei is a place to connect with others and share the Nikkei experience. To continue to sustain and grow this project, we need your help!

Ways to help >>

A project of the Japanese American National Museum

The Nippon Foundation