Discover Nikkei Now Accepting Stories on Language

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Arigato, baka, sushi, benjo, and shoyu—how often have you used these words? For Nikkei (Japanese emigrants and their descendants), the Japanese language symbolizes the culture of one’s ancestors. Japanese words often get mixed in with the language of the adopted country, creating a fluid, hybrid way of communicating.

JANM’s Discover Nikkei project is a major online resource that brings together the voices and experiences of Nikkei who have created communities throughout the world. The multilingual website—available in English, Japanese, Spanish, and Portuguese—documents Nikkei history and culture and provides learning and networking tools for global Nikkei communities.

Every year, Discover Nikkei’s Nikkei Chronicles puts out a call for original stories from Nikkei writers around the globe. The theme of this year’s Nikkei Chronicles is Nikkei-go: The Language of Family, Community, and Culture. All Nikkei are invited to submit stories that share various perspectives on and experiences with language. Do you speak multiple languages? Do you communicate better in one language than another? Are there some things that can only be expressed in one language? Qualifying submissions will be published on the website, where readers can vote for their favorites. The deadline for this edition is September 30 at 6 p.m. PDT, so submit your story now!

Below are links to the Nikkei-go stories that have been published in English to date. Read them and vote for your favorites! The most popular stories will be translated into all four of the site’s languages and spotlighted.

Made in Japan by Mary Sunada
Yokoso Y’all by Linda Cooper
Grasping Grandma’s Japanese Accent—My First Step in Discovering Nikkei-go by Tim Asamen
Minato Gakuen and Me by Teiko Kaneko
Cindy Mochizuki’s PAPER: a meal within a story; a story within a meal by Carolyn Nakagawa
You-mo? Me mo!: Nisei Language and Dialect by Chuck Tasaka
Minato Gakuen Now by Rio Imamura

Serve the People Documents a Radical APIA History

L to R: Karen Ishizuka, Mike Murase, Warren Furutani, Qris Yamashita, traci kato-kiriyama. All photos by Vicky Murakami-Tsuda.
L to R: Karen Ishizuka, Mike Murase, Warren Furutani, Qris Yamashita, traci kato-kiriyama. All photos by Vicky Murakami-Tsuda.

 

While the histories of political activism within the African American and Latino communities are well known, the history of Asian and Pacific Islander American (APIA) activism remains invisible to many. JANM exists partly to correct this underrerepresentation. And a new book, for which JANM hosted a signing and panel discussion on June 18, marks a significant contribution to the existing literature on APIA political history.

Serve the People: Making Asian America in the Long Sixties traces the history of the Asian American civil rights movement, beginning in the early part of the 20th century, focusing strongly on the pivotal decades of the 1960s and ’70s, and continuing to the present day. Drawing on more than 120 first-person interviews with key players and witnesses, the book aims to be the movement’s definitive history. Serve the People was written by Karen L. Ishizuka, a noted scholar and pioneer in the anthropological study of home movies. Ishizuka was also a longtime JANM staff member and co-founder of what is now the Frank H. Watase Media Arts Center; she was recently honored at JANM’s 2016 Gala Dinner.

Karen Ishizuka introduces the book and the panel.
Karen Ishizuka introduces the book and the panel.

 

On Saturday, Ishizuka led a panel discussion that featured longtime Asian American activists based in Los Angeles. The audience was treated to a series of brief but rousing talks from each panelist. Mike Murase, Director of Service Programs for the Little Tokyo Service Center and co-founder of the UCLA Asian American Studies Center as well as the radical APIA newspaper Gidra, evoked what it was like to be on the ground during the formation of the movement in the sixties.

Qris Yamashit gives a slide presentation of her graphic design work.
Qris Yamashit gives a slide presentation of her graphic design work.

 

Qris Yamashita, a graphic designer and artist whose unique graphic style helped to form a visual identity for the APIA movement, gave a slide presentation of her work and explained the sources of her imagery. traci kato-kiriyama, an artist, educator, community organizer, and co-founder of Tuesday Night Project, a free public program dedicated to presenting AAPI artists and community organizations, decided to read from the book as a way of paying respect to her forebears.

Warren T. Furutani, a California State Assembly member who is currently in the running for State Senator, gave perhaps the most spirited talk, as he called for continued radicalism in the face of increasing public bigotry. While he spoke, a photograph was projected overhead that showed Furutani shouting down Assemblyman Don Wagner on the Assembly floor in 2011 for the latter’s offensive remarks against Italian Americans. Please enjoy our exclusive video of Furutani’s panel talk above.

To learn more about Serve the People, read our Discover Nikkei article. To purchase your own copy of the book, visit the JANM Store.

Celebrate Civil Rights Activist Minoru Yasui’s 100th Birthday

Minoru Yasui
Minoru Yasui

This Saturday, April 30 at 2 p.m., JANM will present a special event titled Civil Rights Today: The Legacy of Minoru Yasui. Featuring a variety of speakers as well as an excerpt from the documentary film Never Give Up! Minoru Yasui and the Fight for Justice, the event commemorates what would have been the renowned civil rights activist’s 100th birthday, as well as the 74th anniversary of his voluntary arrest in protest against Executive Order 9066. The event is currently sold out. If you were not able to get a ticket, you can still celebrate his birthday by reflecting on his life and work.

Minoru “Min” Yasui was a young Nisei attorney in Oregon during World War II when he violated the military curfew imposed upon all persons of Japanese ancestry in order to bring a test case to court. He lost that case in the US Supreme Court, but nearly 40 years later he reopened it as part of the coram nobis litigation brought by young Sansei attorneys in 1983. Yasui’s criminal conviction was overturned by the federal court in 1986, and two years later, Congress finally acknowledged the government’s mistake with the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. Recognized posthumously by President Obama with a Presidential Medal of Freedom, Yasui was not only a key player in two different eras of struggle, but also an outspoken, deeply committed activist all his life, working tirelessly for the human and civil rights of all people.

Yasui’s life and activism are well documented. You can read his full biography in the Densho Encyclopedia. Visit the Minoru Yasui Tribute Project to learn more about the upcoming tribute event and various related activities. On JANM’s Discover Nikkei website, there are a number of first-person essays about Yasui, including a remembrance by his daughter Holly Yasui, an account of the making of the documentary film, and a reflection on Yasui’s legacy by Gil Asakawa. Finally, at the JANM Store, you can pick up a copy of the book The Japanese American Cases: The Rule of Law in Time of War, which tells the story of four brave Nisei who stood up to challenge the legality of Japanese American incarceration—Yasui, Gordon Hirabayashi, Fred Korematsu, and Mitsuye Endo.

Guess Who Killed the Origamist and Win a Signed Copy of Naomi Hirahara’s New Novel

sayonara-slam-175Naomi Hirahara is an acclaimed writer who is best known for her award-winning mystery novels. The popular and long-running Mas Arai series features an aging, widowed Japanese American gardener from Altadena who solves mysteries in his spare time.

In Summer of the Big Bachi, the first Mas Arai mystery published in 2004, Mas reaches a crossroads in his life and has to deal with unresolved secrets from his past. The novel was praised not only for being a riveting mystery, but for accurately capturing the nuances of Japanese American life.

Sayonara Slam, the highly anticipated sixth book in the Mas Arai series, will be published in May. Set at Dodger Stadium during the Japan vs. Korea World Baseball Classic, the novel challenges its stoic protagonist with yet another multi-layered whodunit. Who is that strange woman throwing knuckleball pitches to warm up the Japanese team? Who sent thugs to threaten Mas and accuse him of treason? What was in the deleted files on the murdered sportswriter’s computer, and did they hold secrets that led to his death?

Want to win a signed copy of Hirahara’s new novel? Simply visit our Discover Nikkei website, where we are publishing an exclusive, original, serialized story by Hirahara called Death of an Origamist. Start with Chapter 1 and read through to the recently posted Chapter 9, at the end of which you will see our contest announcement. Guess who the killer is, and post your answer in the comments section of Chapter 9. Hirahara will randomly select the winner from those who guess correctly. It’s a win-win situation: you get a shot at winning a free signed book while reading a free, original murder mystery by an award-winning author!

Guesses must be posted in the comments section of Chapter 9 in order to be entered in the contest. You must state the murderer’s name, and you must submit your guess no later than Tuesday, May 3, 2016, at midnight PDT. The winner will be announced when Chapter 11 is published. The winner will be contacted via the email address used to register/comment on the Discover Nikkei site. If no response is received within 10 days, another winner will be selected. Please note that only residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia are eligible to enter this contest.

Naomi Hirahara
Naomi Hirahara

On Saturday, May 21, at 2 p.m., join us for an author discussion with Naomi Hirahara, in which she will read from and discuss Sayonara Slam. JANM members also have the opportunity to attend an intimate pre-event meet-and-greet with Hirahara at 1 p.m. Space is limited; RSVP by May 16 to memberevents@janm.org or 213.830.5646.

Select books by Naomi Hirahara are available for purchase at janmstore.com.

Third Annual Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest: Submission Deadline is January 31

imagine LT call 2016

“Kazuo embraced Mondays like no other, and that was because of its silence. Mondays were sweet, a sweep of semi-peace in the streets of Los Angeles. The typical street-crawlers were in school and the typical tourists at their nine to five jobs, and so Kazuo chose Monday to roam, map, conquer his neighborhoods unperturbed. Mondays were a convenience only when eighty five of your years had passed and your company along with it. It was nice timing for those who desired solace. The old man had fit this criteria to a tee.”
– Linda Toch, “Kazuo Alone”

The evocative words above constitute the opening paragraph of Linda Toch’s “Kazuo Alone,” the 2015 Youth Division winner of the Little Tokyo Historical Society’s Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest. Toch is a self-described “proud Cambodian American” who is now a freshman at Soka University of America. On a family outing in Little Tokyo, she found the neighborhood so positive and uplifting that she imagined a sad person’s spirits would be brightened there. She wrote “Kazuo Alone” as a response.

The Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest, created to raise awareness of the neighborhood, is now in its third year and it continues to grow. Last year’s expansion of the categories to include a Japanese-language division and a youth division (18 and younger) proved to be stimulating, attracting submissions from all over the country and the globe. The English-language winner for 2015 was Nathaniel J. Campbell of Fairfield, Iowa with “Fish Market in Little Tokyo,” while Miyuki Sato of Muroran, Hokkaido, Japan took the Japanese-language prize for “Mitate Club.”

The three winners all received cash prizes and were published in the print edition of the Rafu Shimpo, on the Little Tokyo Historical Society website, and on JANM’s own Discover Nikkei website. Stories by 11 other finalists were also published online. A public reception to announce the winners was held at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center in Los Angeles.

If you feel inspired by Little Tokyo and have dreamed of seeing your name in print, you have until January 31 to submit your story for consideration in this year’s contest. The story must be fiction, and must be set in Little Tokyo. The cash prize in each category is $500. For complete details, click here.

Share Your Nikkei Family Stories on Discover Nikkei

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JANM’s Discover Nikkei project is a major online resource that brings together the voices and experiences of Nikkei (Japanese emigrants and their descendants) who have created communities throughout the world. The multilingual website—available in English, Japanese, Spanish, and Portuguese—documents Nikkei history and culture and provides learning and networking tools for Nikkei around the world. At the same time, it seeks to explore the diverse and ever-changing meaning of the term Nikkei.

Every year, Discover Nikkei’s Nikkei Chronicles project puts out a call for original stories from Nikkei communities around the world. Qualifying submissions are published on the website, where readers can vote for their favorites. The most popular stories are translated into all four of the site’s languages and spotlighted.

The theme for this year’s Nikkei Chronicles is Family Stories. How has your family influenced who you are? What are the special traditions in your family? Do you live in a multi-generational/multicultural household? Does your family maintain any connections to Japan? Are there any famous, or infamous, people in your family? The possibilities are endless, and stories can be nonfiction or fiction. Submissions will be accepted through September 30. Many stories have already been published; you can read them here. Be sure to vote for your favorites! For complete details on how to submit your own story, visit this page.

This year also happens to mark Discover Nikkei’s tenth anniversary. A special page has been created to celebrate the occasion, inviting the site’s international readership to answer questions about themselves and their communities. The page is envisioned as an opportunity for a global network of Nikkei to “meet” one another and compare experiences. Visit 5dn.org/10th every month through March 2016 to see new questions.

Vote for your favorite Nikkei+ Articles by December 20th!

Tani Mitsui Brown talks about her mixed heritage as Japanese-American and African-American, in her article, "A Hapa Girl in Vietnam."
Tani Mitsui Brown talks about her mixed heritage as Japanese-American and African-American, in her article, “A Hapa Girl in Vietnam.”

Discover Nikkei explores the Nikkei experience theme by theme and story by story through the Nikkei Chronicle series.

For the second year of the Nikkei Chronicles: Nikkei+ ~Stories of Mixed Language, Traditions, Generations & Race~we solicited stories that explore how Nikkei around the world perceive and experience being multiracial, multinational, multilingual, and multigenerational.

People around the world were invited to submit personal stories and essays, memoirs, and academic papers, in hopes that by sharing the multitudes of experiences, we could enhance our ability to better understand who Nikkei are. There are stories about war brides, food, such as fusion restaurants, and Oshogatsu traditions, architecture, mixed family stories, and of course, Hapa identity related stories.

In Chanda Ishisaka's article, "Diary of a Mad Hapa Judo Girl", Ishisaka recounts her experiences as a girl in judo, and her mixed heritage.
In Chanda Ishisaka’s article, “Diary of a Mad Hapa Judo Girl”, Ishisaka recounts her experiences as a girl in judo, and her mixed heritage.

All of the submissions are now published on Discover Nikkei, and there are just 11 days left to vote for your favorite Nikkei+ stories!

It will be a great opportunity to learn more about being Nikkei, and to support authors and their articles with your votes. The stories with the most Discover Nikkei “stars” will be translated into our site languages, and may even be published in our partnering publications in the US, Canada, and Latin America!

Asami Goto talks about Japanese American food culture - namely, Japanese food 's influence on the healthy-eating movement.
Asami Goto talks about Japanese American food culture – namely, Japanese food ‘s influence on the healthy-eating movement.

All you have to do is log in to Discover Nikkei and click on the “star” icon if you like a story. Vote for as many stories as you like. If you don’t have a Discover Nikkei account, it’s free & easy to sign up!

Get your votes in by December 20th, and we will announce the “favorites” before the end of the year!

Remember, every vote counts!

To access all of the Nikkei+ stories, please visit the Nikkei+ page.

Photos: courtesy of the authors 

FREE screening of “Unexpected Journeys—Remarkable Stories of Japanese in America” on November 2nd

1For the past year and a half, JANM’s Frank H. Watase Media Arts Center has captured more than 25 first-person accounts of individuals whose lives illuminate the astonishing diversity of the Japanese experience in America.

With the support of NITTO TIRES U.S.A. Inc. and its visionary President, Tomo Mizutani, the Watase Media Arts Center staff has been enabled to videotape extensive interviews with Nisei, Japanese-speaking Kibei, Hapa, and post-WWII “Shin Issei.” Their stories have revealed many new historical insights and several previously unexpressed personal perspectives on the World War II era and beyond.

3From the little known early Yamato colony of Japanese in Florida where Sumi (Fukushima) Hughes’ parents settled to the challenges faced by Hamako (Amano) Schneider, one of the first Japanese war brides to be admitted to the U.S. following World War II, the project has uncovered many aspects of history that have remained unfamiliar to the public.

Photographed in Hi-Definition video by the Media Arts Center’s videographers Akira Boch and Evan Kodani, each interview is transcribed, translated when necessary, and digitally archived for eventual use in documentaries, exhibitions, and ongoing JANM educational projects such as the Discover Nikkei website and the Museum’s YouTube channel, janmdotorg. The project also involved follow ups with interviewees and their families to gather, identify, and scan photo albums, documents, and other supplementary resource material.

2After viewing the completed two-to-three hour interviews and assessing the available supplementary photographs and other visuals, the Media Arts staff—with assistance from Japanese staff member Yoko Nishimura of the Discover Nikkei project—edited selected interviews into a 30-minute documentary, Unexpected Journeys, that interweaves short autobiographical profiles with narration, graphics, and music by accomplished composer and musician, Dave Iwataki. To make these stories accessible to as wide an audience as possible the video includes both English and Japanese narration and subtitling to reach both English and Japanese-speaking audiences.

On Saturday, November 2, several of the interviewees and their families will attend a special premiere public screening presented in JANM’s Atsuhiko and Ina Goodwin Tateuchi Democracy Forum and will be able to meet fellow project participants, staff, sponsors, and other special guests. Light refreshments to follow program.

Lloyd Inui

FILM SCREENING
Unexpected Journeys: Remarkable Stories of Japanese in America
Saturday, November 2, 2013 • 2PM
FREE & open to the public!

This program is sponsored by Nitto Tire and produced by the National Museum’s Frank H. Watase Media Arts Center.

 

Check out the updated Watase Media Arts Center pages online: janm.org/mediaarts

Catch a special screening of “The Untold Story” at JANM on October 26th!

The Untold Story

On Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 2:00PM, JANM will present a special screening of The Untold Story: Internment of Japanese Americans in Hawai`i. Produced by the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai`i, The Untold Story is the first full-length documentary to chronicle the internment experience of Japanese Americans in Hawai`i.

UNTOLD.STORYWithin 48 hours of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawai`i authorities arrested several hundred local residents—targeting Buddhist priests, Japanese language-school officials, newspaper editors, and business and community leaders. In total, more than 2,000 men and women of Japanese ancestry were arrested, detained, and interned at 13 different confinement sites located in Hawai`i. There was no evidence of espionage or sabotage, and no charges were ever filed against them. The Untold Story chronicles their story through oral histories, documents, interviews, and reenactments.

“While people have heard of places like Manzanar and Tule Lake, the sites where Japanese Americans were incarcerated on the mainland, few people are familiar with places like Honouliuli, Kalaheo Stockade, or that Japanese Americans were held at the Kilauea Military Camp during WWII,” said Carole Hayashino, president and executive director of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai`i.

“Our film, The Untold Story, helps to ensure that the experience of over 2,000 persons of Japanese ancestry in Hawai`i who were picked up and imprisoned simply because of their ancestry is not forgotten.”

Don’t miss this special film screening and the Q&A session with the filmmakers afterwards!

*****

Visit the Discover Nikkei website for an insightful behind-the-scenes article on The Untold Story written by the director, Ryan Kawamoto:

Stepping into the Past: Behind the Scenes of The Untold Story: Internment of Japanese Americans in Hawai‘i >>

The film screening is free with Museum admission. For more information please visit: janm.org/events

JABA & JANM: A Great Collaboration

Sean with his JABA/JANM supervisors at the NCI Opening Luncheon
Sean with his JABA/JANM supervisors at the NCI Opening Luncheon

 

This summer we were lucky enough to host Sean Hamamoto, our second Nikkei Community Intern in collaboration with the Japanese American Bar Association (JABA)! We had a great time getting to know Sean, a rising sophomore Politics major at the University of Pennsylvania.

The Nikkei Community Internship is an eight-week program that places college students at various Japanese American organizations across California. Interns get a taste of working life at their placements for four days of the week, then spend the remaining day on leadership development and community training. For the internship, JANM shared an intern with JABA to work on joint Discover Nikkei projects.

As our Discover Nikkei intern, Sean contributed to every section of the site by adding albums, events, and articles. He even contributed a fantastic article to our (ongoing!) Nikkei+ competition (deadline for submissions: September 30, 2013). In “4-Sei What? That’s Mixed Up,” Sean talked about why he considers himself a Yonsei with an Issei mother and Sansei father. (If you really liked his entry, don’t forget to make a Discover Nikkei account and vote for it!)

With JABA, Sean worked on the Legacy Project: Legal Legends in the Nikkei Community, which seeks to record profiles of Japanese American legal leaders. He interviewed Los Angeles County Alternate Public Defender Janice Fukai and attorney/civil rights activist Rose Ochi about their life and work. In addition to these profiles, Sean got to put his Japanese skills to good use at JABA’s free legal clinic, where he registered clients.

You can read Sean’s reflection of his eight weeks with JANM and JABA here. Sean’s passions for law and Japanese culture were huge assets to both his work at JANM and JABA. We hope he’ll remain a frequent visitor to JANM!