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