Nikkei Names 2 artwork featuring nametags, name badges, and kokeshi

Share the Story of Your Name with Discover Nikkei

Discover Nikkei is thrilled to announce the thirteenth edition of Nikkei Chronicles, our annual, themed open call for writings. Discover Nikkei, a project of JANM, is a community website highlighting Nikkei identity, culture, and history. Every year, we call on the global Japanese diaspora to share personal stories around a specific theme. This year’s theme is Nikkei Names 2: Grace, Graça, Graciela, Megumi? 

Do you have a Japanese name? How did your parents choose your name? Have you ever changed your name? We invite you to share stories, essays, and vignettes about how Nikkei names connect families, reflect cultural identity, embody struggles, and more. We welcome diverse approaches to our theme. Submissions might include historical essays on naming people and places, the origins of names, how names become cross-cultural, or writing about names other than your own. For inspiration, check out some of the wonderful stories we received during our first Nikkei Names series ten years ago.

All submissions that meet the series guidelines and criteria will be published online in the Discover Nikkei Journal. Nikkei Names 2 stories will also be eligible for selection as the community favorite. Readers can vote for their favorites by logging in and giving them a “star”—the earlier you submit, the more time your story can earn stars! And, our editorial committee will select one favorite each in English, Japanese, Spanish, and Portuguese. The five favorite stories will be announced in December 2024.

All submissions must be sent by email and formatted using Microsoft Word or Google Docs. Submissions must include a short author biography, a headshot, and at least one image to accompany the piece. Multiple submissions and submissions written by multiple authors are welcome. For the full submission guidelines and writing prompts, please visit

We can’t wait to read your stories! 

Thanks to our Nikkei Names 2 Community Partners!

Got a Work Truck Story? We Want to Hear It!

The humble work truck or van may not seem as glamorous as a sports coupe or luxury sedan but as utility vehicles, they have served Japanese Americans in Los Angeles for over 100 years. Established by Fred J. Fujioka in the mid-1910s, the Japanese Auto Club of Southern California had over 850 members of Japanese descent listed in their member guide. Many members had registered their trucks, presumably used for delivering goods throughout the Southland.

Farmers, gardeners, shop owners, and other working class Nikkei couldn’t ply their trades without access to work vehicles. As prosaic as they looked, the ways in which owners adapted them to their needs made them as unique as any custom car. This was especially true for gardeners, once the economic lifeblood of the Southern California’s Japanese American community, for whom the pickup truck became an iconic sight for several generations.

As part of our forthcoming exhibition on Nikkei car culture in Southern California, we are looking for images of local Japanese Americans with their work trucks, vans, and cars. Many people may have posed in front of their family cars but we know there are also photos of people with their utility vehicles too. We want to make sure these—and the people behind them—are properly represented in our exhibition.

Right now, we prefer to look at digital scans (if possible). Please send them to by July 31, 2023.

Photo: Buntaro Tabuchi from Amache with his gardening tools and truck, loading up for the day’s work in Los Angeles, June 25, 1945, Online Archive of California. Photo by Charles E. Mace.

Discover Nikkei Now Accepting Stories on Language

EN Nikkei-go Banner small


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