Gwen Muranaka

Gwen Muranaka, Senior Editor, has been with The Rafu Shimpo since 2001. Prior to that, she worked in Tokyo at the Japan Times where she still contributes the weekly cartoon “Noodles.” She attended UCLA where she received a BA in English literature and also studied one year at Waseda University. Muranaka started in community newspapers as assistant editor at the Pacific Citizen.

Updated March 2021

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

Energizing Or End Times For a 117-Year-Old Publication

This is how I go cover a story now. I put on a cloth mask and wash my hands, grab my recorder and put an LAPD press badge around my neck. A while back, photographer Mario Gershom Reyes and I covered Hideki Obayashi of Azuma in Gardena as he fights to keep the restaurant going. Even with masks on, you can see the strain, exhaustion and worry in his eyes. His wife Genie Nakano stopped by with a tin box of cookies. Our hands are all worn, chapped and dry from constant washing. Places where we meet are now empty, the chairs placed on tables, stacks of boxes piled up. Behind the scenes are unce...

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Norman Mineta: An American Story - New documentary captures JA experience through life of two time Cabinet secretary

"I don’t like the word H-A-T-E. I don’t use it,” says Norman Mineta. Even if it’s a matter of a dislike for carrots, the former transportation secretary says “hate” isn’t a part of his vocabulary, and that informs who he is and the issues he has championed. “I’ve always been a half-full kind of person, more optimistic about things and how they happen, but you know I was only 10 years old at the time of the evacuation, so it wasn’t real hard impact on me. But I saw the impact on people like my parents and the Issei generation,&rdq...

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J-town Beat: A Bowl Of Katsudon

There are some annoyances to spending most days in Little Tokyo: the traffic, the constant construction, the overflow of hipsters and homeless. But one reason I’m grateful to work here in J-Town is definitely the food. Most days, since we’re busy on deadline, we eat in our office, but once a week we treat ourselves to a lunch at a local restaurant. There are so many great choices. Old favorites like Suehiro, TOT and Kouraku or newer places like Chinchikurin Okonomiyaki or Jist (the former Tokyo Café) — there’s a lot to choose from. If you want Hawaiian, ther...

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CHANGING MINDS ON MENTAL HEALTH - Young Nikkei lead the way in new initiative on mental health at 341 FSN

“Part of our mission is to spread the idea that mental health is something applicable to everybody,” says Ty Tanioka of Changing Tides, a new organization now hosting an art exhibition at 341 FSN in Little Tokyo. “Mental health is something that everyone can practice. Everyone deals with stress in their everyday life on an everyday scale.” At the opening on Feb. 9, the small space on First Street was packed with people who came to see the works of art. The artists are multigenerational, with Sansei like Nancy Uyemura and Mike Murase contributing works, alongside yo...

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A Balancing Act - Tales of Clamor is daring examination of redress era in intimate setting

In the first moment of Tales of Clamor, Kennedy Kabasares, dressed as a Japanese immigrant, clambers up two cloth silks. Suspended in air, he rises and falls, over and over, as government agents try to pull him down. There are moments of grace and peril, noise and quiet, and catharsis in the production at the Aratani Black Box, the inaugural show for this intimate setting. Just walking through the backstage area to the seating is a new experience. The audience, limited to 80 per performance, is onstage with the performers, who play multiple roles. A trapeze, aerial silks, as well as other...

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