Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest Seeks Entries by January 31


Far East Cafe, a drawing by Ernest Nagamatsu, first prize winner of the 2014 Imagine Little Tokyo short story contest.
Far East Cafe, a drawing by Ernest Nagamatsu, first prize winner of the 2014 Imagine Little Tokyo short story contest.

Last year, as part of Little Tokyo’s 130th anniversary celebrations, the Little Tokyo Historical Society (LTHS) sponsored the first-ever Imagine Little Tokyo short story contest, inviting the general public to submit short works of original fiction set in the historic neighborhood. Stories could take place in the past, present, or future and were judged on the writer’s storytelling ability and use of the neighborhood as a cultural setting.

The contest was a success, attracting about sixty diverse submissions. Ernest Nagamatsu won the first prize of $1,000 with “Doka B-100,” a sorrowful tale about coping with the grief of war. Rubén Guevara’s “Yuriko and Carlos,” a story of interracial romance set during World War II, won the second place prize of $500 while Satsuki Yamashita took the third place prize of $250 with “Mr. K,” which takes the reader on a heartwarming journey of self-discovery over a series of meals in Little Tokyo. All three of the top stories were published in the print edition of The Rafu Shimpo and online at the LTHS website and at JANM’s own Discover Nikkei project. Twelve additional finalists were also published online.

Inspired by the enthusiastic response to last year’s contest, LTHS decided to make Imagine Little Tokyo an annual event. For the 2015 edition, the categories have been expanded to accommodate Japanese-language and youth submissions. The prizes will be $600 for the best English-language story; $600 for the best Japanese-language story; and $400 for the best story by a writer 18 years old or younger. As with last year’s edition, winning stories will be published in the Rafu Shimpo and on the LTHS website and Discover Nikkei.

Do you have a Little Tokyo tale you’d like to tell? The deadline for submissions is January 31! For complete guidelines, visit the LTHS website.

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 

Mochitsuki: A New Year’s Tradition

Crafts with FamilyOn Sunday, January 5th, celebrate the New Year and the Year of the Horse at our Oshogatsu Family Festival from 11AM to 5PM.

Ring in the New Year with a fun-filled day of arts ‘n crafts, food, exciting cultural activities, and performances! FREE ALL DAY!

One of the traditional Japanese customs that JANM will be celebrating is mochitsuki—the pounding of mochi or rice cakes, which is essential to the “Oshogatsu” or New Year’s celebration.

Kodama Taiko Mochitsuki 4Mochitsuki is an annual custom kept by many Japanese American households and communities. It is traditionally an all-day event which requires many hands, long hours, and physical labor, but is also a time of fellowship and socializing with friends and family.

Mochitsuki usually begins the day before, with the washing of the mochigome (sweet glutinous rice) and is left to soak overnight in large kettles or tubs. Early the next morning the mochigome is ready to be steamed in the seiro—wooden steaming frames. Three or four seiro are stacked one on top of the other and placed over a kettle of boiling water.

Kodama Taiko Mochitsuki 2After the rice is cooked, it is dumped into the usu, or mortar, made from a wood stump, stone or concrete form. The hot cooked rice in the usu is pounded with a kine or wooden mallet. With enthusiasm and force, the mochi is pounded until the mass of rice is smooth and shiny, with no discernible individual grains of rice. An essential participant in the pounding is the person assisting who quickly darts his or her hand into the usu and turns the rice before the next rhythmic pound.

Mochi Samples

The smooth, consistent mass of mochi is turned onto a cloth or paper covered table, already spread with a thin layer of mochiko (sweet rice flour). This makes the sticky mass easier to handle. An adept person pinches off small portions of the steaming hot mochi for others, who quickly form them into flattened bun shapes with their hands. The formed mochi is then set aside to cool and is ready to eat.

Kodama Taiko Mochitsuki 5

 

Be sure to visit JANM on Sunday, January 5th 2014 to watch Kodama Taiko perform their unique Mochitsuki performance at 2:30PM or 4PM. Watch as Kodama Taiko combine the age-old tradition of pounding mochi (sweet rice) with the sounds of taiko. This energetic performance is customary during the Japanese New Year’s Oshogatsu. Then stick around to sample the delicious mochi afterwards!

 

For more information on JANM’s 2014 Oshogatsu Family Festival and the complete schedule, please visit: janm.org/oshogatsufest2014

We hope to see you there!

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Check out these stories about mochitsuki on our Discover Nikkei site:

Mochitsuki Tradition: Mochi Making the Old School Way (San Francisco, CA)
By Soji Kashiwagi

Mochitsuki: Taking the (rice) cake (Michigan)
By Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

Mochitsuki (Toronto, ON, Canada)
By April Sora

PHOTOS: Celebrating Mochi-Tsuki Mochi Day in Chicago (Chicago, IL)
Chicago Japanese American Historial Society

VIDEO: Mochitsuki at Heart Mountain (Wyoming)
B&W home movie footage of mochitsuki taken at the Heart Mountain concentration camp in Wyoming during WWII. From the Naokichi Hashizume Collection at JANM.

Photos by Daryl Kobayashi, Richard Murakami, Russell Kitagawa, Tsuneo Takasugi, and Caronline Jung.

JANM in Buenos Aires, Argentina!

COPANI 2013 is held in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
COPANI 2013 was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The Convention of Pan-American Nikkei  (COPANI) is the most important Pan-American Nikkei event. First held in 1981, it is a biannual meeting point for Nikkei from the Americas and Japan where they can exchange experiences, learn from each other, and above all, create friendship bonds beyond frontiers.

This year, the 17th COPANI was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina on September 12-14 2013. It was organized by the Centro Nikkei Argentino and a youth staff of approximately 80 young Argentinian Nikkei.

Approximately 500 people attended, including JANM’s very own Discover Nikkei Project Manager, Yoko Nishimura.

Chef Takehiro Ohno's presentation is one of the highlights of the convention.
Chef Takehiro Ohno’s presentation was one of the highlights of the convention. Photo Credit: COPANI 2013

This is not the first year Discover Nikkei, an international project of JANM, has been a part of COPANI. In 2005, former President/CEO of JANM, Akemi Kikumura Yano presented at COPANI 2005 in Canada. Since then, Yoko Nishimura has participated in every COPANI, starting from COPANI 2007 in BrazilCOPANI 2009 in UruguayCOPANI 2011 in Mexico, and this year’s COPANI in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Carlos Kasuga, Director General of Yakult S.A de C.V., is asked what "Nikkei" means to him.
Carlos Kasuga, Director General of Yakult S.A de C.V., was asked what “Nikkei” means to him.

This year, in collaboration with COPANIDiscover Nikkei, organized a photo activity asking the question, “What does ‘Nikkei’ mean to you?” There was a wide range of participants from 13 different countries, and from ages 15-84. Check out the diverse pool of statements, mostly recorded in Spanish, on Discover Nikkei’s website: 5dn.org/copani2013

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The Convention of Pan-American Nikkei (COPANI) is an international biennial convention that is coordinated by the Pan American Nikkei Association, a multi-national, non-governmental organization with members from 14 countries. The host country of each convention is selected from members’ countries. Learn more about COPANI and the Pan American Nikkei Association at www.webapn.org.

What is Nikkei

Discover Nikkei is a community website about Nikkei identity, history, and experiences. The goal of this project is to provide an inviting space for the community to share, explore, and connect with each other through diverse Nikkei perspectives, culture, and history. The DiscoverNikkei.org site is a project of the Japanese American National Museum, with major funding by The Nippon Foundation. Visit Discover Nikkei at: DiscoverNikkei.org

 

 

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!

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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

1 week left to submit your NIKKEI+ story!

NIKKEI+ ~Stories of Mixed Language, Traditions, Generations & Race~

Deadline for submissions: September 30 @6pm (PST)

Do you use chopsticks and forks; mix Japanese words with English or Spanish; or celebrate the New Year’s Eve countdown with champagne and Oshogatsu with ozoni and other Japanese traditions?

There’s just 1 week left to submit stories about being Hapa, growing up in families with mixed generations, or mixing traditions.

All stories that meet the submission guidelines will be published on Discover Nikkei. Our online community’s most favorite stories will be translated into our site languages (English, Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese) and may even ben published in our partnering Nikkei publications in the US, Canada, and Latin America!

Submission guidelines: http://5dn.org/nikkei-plus

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Here are links to a few of the 12 stories published so far. After you’ve read them, “vote” for your favorites to help us select the stories to translate! Just log in to award your favorite stories a “star”.

Sushi & Salsa, Cactus & Bamboo by Dorothy Yumi Garcia
Documentary Explores Being “Hafu” in Japan by Susan Hamaker

 

 

 

 

Japanese and Jewish Food Come Home to Brooklyn by Tamio Spiegel
Ted Tokio Tanaka: Meeting Architectural Challenges with a Global Vision by Meher McArthur

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read all of the stories published so far >>

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!

Conference Recap—Bainbridge Island Bus Tour

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A big thank you to everyone who came to Seattle for the 2013 National Conference over the 4th of July weekend! We had a great time and learned a ton, and we hoped you did too.

One big hit from the Conference was the tour of Bainbridge Island. The first generation of Japanese Americans came to the island in 1883 and settled down, opening businesses (including the Suyematsu farm, the oldest continually working farm on the island) and starting families. They remained on Bainbridge until the Japanese American forced removal and incarceration during World War II. In 1942, Bainbridge residents were among the first to be taken to the concentration camps. Today, the island is the home of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial, which opened in 2011.

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Group photo on the ferry ride over. It was a little windy…
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Lilly Kodama points out a photo of herself from the 1942 forced removal.
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Listening to a presentation at the Suyematsu and Bentryn Family Farms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read more about one Japanese American family’s history on Bainbridge Island in Wayne Nakata’s Discover Nikkei article, Honoring my Issei and Nisei Ancestors. Nakata shared his story at the tour’s Sonoji Sakai Intermediate School luncheon.

Here are some photos from the bus tour of five key Island landmarks—the Exclusion Memorial, Bainbridge Gardens, Suyematsu Farm, Woodward Middle School, and Sonoji Sakai Intermediate School. Find more photos on our Facebook page.

See if you can spot yourself or a friend!

Photos by: Tracy Kumono, Bob Moriguchi, June Aoki, Midori Uyeda & Richard Murakami

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Visiting Woodward MS for a welcome & presentation.
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Paul Takemoto and family pose in front of the Exclusion Memorial.
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Memorial committee president Clarence Moriwaki presents.
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Visitors examining the Memorial.
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Walking down the path at the Suyematsu and Bentryn Family farms.
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Touring the original farm house on the Suyematsu Farm.

 

 

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Tour-goers picking out a sweet treat to bring home!
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June Aoki pauses to photograph  plants at Bainbridge Gardens.
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Visitors admire the greenery at Bainbridge Gardens.
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The group listens to speakers at the Sonoji Sakai school luncheon.
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Kay Nakao shares a memory at the Sakai school luncheon.
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Visitors admire posters on the walls at the Sakai school.

 

 

 

Nikkei+ ~ Stories of Mixed Language, Traditions, Generations & Race ~

logo-NIKKEI-PLUSBeing Nikkei today is all about diversity, from languages and traditions to generations and culture. This blend is part of what makes being Nikkei such a rich identity, not divided but instead enhanced by its many facets. So whether you mix Japanese and Spanish when speaking, or eat bacon wrapped hot dogs at obon, come share your story with us!

This year’s Nikkei+ ~ Stories of Mixed Language, Traditions, Generations & Race ~ focuses on how Nikkei around the world perceive and experience being multiracial, multinational, multilingual, and multigenerational. We want a diverse range of entries, so submissions can be anything from personal stories to academic papers, and much more! The pieces should fall into the range of 600-1,200 words and may be in English, Japanese, Spanish, or Portugese.

All stories submitted that meet the project guidelines & criteria will be published in the discover Nikkei journal section as part of the Nikkei+ series. Multiple entries per author will be accepted. In addition, each piece submitted to the Nikkei+ anthology will be eligible for selection as our readers’ favorites. The top favorites will be translated into all four site languages and published on Discover Nikkei, as well as possibly shared through participating Nikkei medias.

If you need inspiration, we’ve just started publishing a few of our submissions. Read Edward Moreno’s memories of his wife’s talent for multicultural cooking and then check out Gil Asakawa’s review of Japanese salsa.

The deadline to submit stories is September 30, 2013 at 6pm PDT.

For submission guides, more information, and even some questions to get you started, visit our website.

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Edward Moreno’s wife, Reiko, tasting items at a February 2011 luncheon. (Photo from Discover Nikkei – Edward Moreno)