Join Discover Nikkei as we present a variety of new virtual programs and videos to share through our YouTube channel and website.

Check this page to find out about upcoming virtual programs and see videos from past events. Let us know what kinds of programs and guests that you would be interested in seeing.

Upcoming Programs | Nima Voices | Other Past Programs

 

UPCOMING PROGRAMS

Nima Voices: Episode 15—Lee A. Tonouchi

Tuesday, February 27 • 5 p.m. HST / 7 p.m. PST

Nima Voices is an interview series where we uplift our Nima through brief and enlightening interviews. In the fifteenth episode, Okinawan Yonsei and poet/writer/playwright Lee A. Tonouchi will be interviewed by guest host Wesley Ueunten, a Okinawan Sansei and Chair of the Asian American Studies Department at San Francisco State University. Join us as they chat about growing up in Hawai‘i, Lee’s activism for Pidgin to be recognized as a language, Okinawan culture and diaspora, and pursuing the arts and humanities in Okinawan and Japanese American communities.

Read Lee’s articles on Discover Nikkei before tuning in for this live interview and Q&A on the Discover Nikkei YouTube channel or on Facebook. Log into your YouTube or Facebook account to post questions for the Q&A!

We encourage you to subscribe to our YouTube channel/Facebook page so you will be notified when the video is streaming live.

 

Yeisaa nu Chimu-Don-Don: Exploring Cultural Identity through Okinawan Drumming

Yeisaa nu Chimu Don Don Program logo English

Saturday, March 9, 2024 • 3 p.m. PST

(Optional interactive eisa tutorials: 4:30 p.m.-5 p.m.)

March 9
• 1 p.m. (Honolulu)
• 3 p.m. (Los Angeles / Seattle / Vancouver)
• 5 p.m. (Dallas / Mexico City / Chicago)
• 6 p.m. (Lima / New York / Toronto)
• 8 p.m. (São Paulo / Buenos Aires)
• 11 p.m. (London)
March 10
• 12 a.m. (Amsterdam)
• 7 a.m. (Manila)
• 8 a.m. (Tokyo)
• 10 a.m. (Sydney)

*Deadline to register: Friday, March 8 • 10 a.m. (PST) | 1 p.m. (Lima) | 3 p.m. (São Paulo)

Eisa is a traditional Okinawan folk dance and musical performance to honor the spirit of Okinawan ancestors. As Okinawans migrated and settled all over the world, their music and dance traditions traveled with them.

Join us for a conversation and Q&A with members of contemporary eisa groups—Lisa Tamashiro Maumalanga (Chinagu Eisa Hawaii), Rentaro Suzuki (Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko Los Angeles Branch), John Azama (Ryukyu Damashii), Cecilia Nué (Seiryu Eisa Kai), and Toshiyuki Yamauchi (Yuriki no Kizuna Eisá Daiko)—as they discuss how eisa connects them to their cultural heritage and identity. An interactive beginners tutorial and opportunity to talk with members from various eisa groups will follow the program.

Interactive Tutorials

Yubibue—Eisa Whistling with John Azama of Ryukyu Damashii
Join John Azama for an easy lesson in Yubibue (指笛), the Okinawan finger whistle used in Okinawan music.

Heishi with Stephanie Ajifu of Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko Los Angeles Branch
Join Stephanie Ajifu for a lesson in heishi, Okinawan chants that eisa performers say as they simultaneously dance and hit their drums.

Eisa Dance Steps with Cecilia Nué of Seiryu Eisa Kai
Learn about basic steps of eisa through a brief online class with Seiryu Eisa Kai.

Kachashii and Uchinaaguchi Lessons with Lisa Tamashiro Maumalanga of Chinagu Eisa Hawaii 
Discover kachashii, a fun dance performed during the closing of Okinawan festivities, and learn how to speak Uchinaaguchi, the language of the Ryukyu kingdom.

Taiko 101 with Toshiyuki Yamauchi of Yuriki no Kizuna Eisá Daiko
Experience the power of taiko with Toshiyuki Yamauchi.

The main program will be presented via Zoom with simultaneous translation in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. Registration is required using the form below. Limited space is available.

REGISTER NOW

 

MODERATOR / EMCEE



Shari Y. Tamashiro is a third generation Okinawan and fourth generation Japanese Cybrarian at Kapiʻolani Community College, University of Hawaiʻi (UH). She often serves as a bridge between UH and the local Okinawan community to connect university resources and expertise and to enhance community archivism and projects. She is passionate about storytelling (especially Hawaiʻi Japanese and Okinawan stories) and documenting primary source materials in her community. She curated the Looking Like the Enemy exhibit at the Pearl Harbor National Monument, as well as the Battle of Okinawa and 100th, 442nd RCT, MIS, and 1399 exhibits. She is the first foreign and female World Eisa Ambassador.

PARTICIPATING GROUPS

Chinagu Eisa Hawaii (Honolulu, HI, USA)

Established in 2008, Chinagu Eisa Hawaii is a contemporary and multigenerational Okinawan eisa drumming group that cultivates the Okinawan culture for local communities and younger generations. Members range from ten to eighty years old, with cousins, siblings, parents, grandparents, and grandchildren performing together. In the Okinawan language, Chinagu means “to connect.” Chinagu Eisa Hawaii encourages reflection on the connection between group members’ generations, Okinawa and Hawaiʻi, and one’s culture and one’s own self.



Lisa Tamashiro Maumalanga is a Nisei. Her parents are from Haneji, Okinawa, and their family are members of Haneji Club. She is the founder, past president, and current advisor for Shinka, a club of the Hawaii United Okinawa Association (HUOA). She started her cultural journey by learning koto with Toma Toyoko Sokyokukai. She then devoted herself to eisa and is the founder and past president of Chinagu Eisa Hawaii. She is the director of Operations and Special Programs at Adult Friends for Youth and is committed to helping the Okinawan Community.

Ryukyu Damashii (Dallas, TX, USA)

Ryukyu Damashii was founded by Yukimi Iha and Ritsuko Shibayama in 2015. Through eisa, Ryukyu Damashii enhances relationships among parents and children, and develops their interest in Okinawa. The group provides the opportunity for everyone to experience and share Okinawa’s culture while teaching Okinawa’s culture to the next generation.

John Azama

John Azama joined Ryukyu Damashii in 2018. After he moved to Dallas, Texas, in 2017 he was invited to join the group. When he attended their practice, they were rehearsing the folk songs “Asadoya Yunta,” “Miruku Munari,” and “Ashibina” which he was familiar with and was able to dance in their upcoming event. Since then he has taught other dances and has simplified some of the dance routines so that everyone can have a good time.



Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko Los Angeles Branch (Los Angeles, CA, USA)

Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko (Ryukyu Kingdom Festival Drums) is modeled on the traditional Okinawan obon festival drum dancing called eisa where performers dance and drum to an exciting blend of traditional and contemporary Okinawan and Japanese music. Founded in Okinawa in 1982, Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko has chapters in Japan, South America, and the US. The Los Angeles branch was established in 1995 and will celebrate its thirtieth anniversary in 2025.



Rentaro Suzuki (panelist) has been a member of Matsuri Daiko for eight years. Hailing from Culver City, California, He is a senior at Culver City High School. He found eisa through a third grade performance activity and after being invited to watch the Los Angeles chapter’s twentieth anniversary, he was fascinated by the performance and decided to join the group.


Stephanie Ajifu


Stephanie Ajifu (tutorial instructor) is the current leader for the Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko Los Angeles branch. Hailing from Torrance, California, she is a senior at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. She joined the Los Angeles chapter when she was ten years old through Gardena’s Okinawa community and after eleven years of drumming, she became the leader of the Los Angeles chapter in 2023.



Seiryu Eisa Kai (Lima, Peru)  

Seiryu Eisa Kai is a modern eisa group created in 2017 to promote Okinawan culture through dance with taiko, shime, and paranku—traditional percussion instruments used in matsuri or festivals held throughout Japan. Seiryu Eisa Kai formed to develop choreographies and perform dances collaboratively with other groups. Their goal is to express the fusion of cultures through dance.

Cecilia Nue

Since childhood, Cecilia Nué has had a strong interest in Japanese culture. Thanks to her friends, she immersed herself in the dances and events organized by the Peruvian Japanese community. In 2010, she discovered eisa and over the years learned the captivating drum dance. In 2017, she founded Seiryu Eisa Kai. By blending musical genres and collaborating with talented artists to create new choreographies she has strengthened her connection with Japan and enriched her love for its culture.


Yuriki no Kizuna Eisá Daiko (São Paulo, Brazil)

Founded in 2022, Yuriki no Kizuna Eisá Daiko promotes Okinawa culture through eisa, emphasizing values such as friendship and tradition.

Toshiyuki Yamauchi

Toshiyuki Yamauchi began his activities in Okinawan culture at the age of three through eisa. He participated in the group Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko Brasil from 2007–2017 and founded Yuriki no Kizuna Eisá Daiko to spread and disseminate Okinawan culture through eisa.

 

PARTNERING ORGANIZATIONS



Okinawa Association of America, Inc.

Founded in 1909, the Okinawa Association of America (OAA) promotes, preserves, and perpetuates Okinawan culture. In addition to cultural awareness and education, OAA also engages in local and international cultural exchanges. Fourteen clubs, classes, and committees support OAA’s mission including the Fujin-bu Women’s Club and the Young Okinawans of Southern California. As a member-supported nonprofit, OAA currently has 700 Family, Individual and Student level memberships totaling over 1,000 members in Southern California, the US, and overseas.


HUOA

Hawaii United Okinawa Association

The Hawaii United Okinawa Association (HUOA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization serving as the umbrella organization for fifty member clubs statewide, representing over 40,000 Okinawa immigrants and descendants in Hawai‘i. HUOA’s mission is to promote, perpetuate, and preserve the Okinawan culture in Hawai‘i. HUOA hosts the annual Okinawan Festival, the biggest ethnic event in the state traditionally held on the Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day weekend. The HUOA is also a charter member of the United Japanese Society of Hawaii.




Peru Okinawa Association

The biggest number of Japanese immigrants that arrived in Peru came from Okinawa. It is estimated that 70% of Okinawan descendants constitute the Peruvian nikkei community. Immigration from Okinawa began in 1906, when thirty-six men arrived in Peru. In 1910, Sentei Yaki founded the Peru Okinawa Association (Asociación Okinawense del Perú). Its mission is to look out for the Uchinanchu community in Peru and organize cultural, social and sports activities.

 

Brazil Kenjinkai

Okinawa Kenjin Association of Brazil / Okinawa Cultural Center of Brazil

Okinawa Kenjin Association of Brazil (AOKB - Associação Okinawa Kenjin do Brasil) and the Okinawa Cultural Center of Brazil (CCOB - Centro Cultural Okinawa do Brasil) promote and encourage exchanges between Brazil and Japan, especially with the province of Okinawa, to strengthen friendships and contribute to the appreciation and preservation of the history, culture, and contributions of Japanese immigration in Brazil. The association’s goal has always been one of fraternization and mutual assistance among Okinawans as expressed in the sayings “Ichariba choodee” (“When we meet, we become brothers”) and “Yuimaaru” (“mutual assistance”). The association has always represented Brazil’s Uchinanchu community to the government of Okinawa, serving as a bridge to maintain the ties between the mother province and its descendants on the other side of the world.

*This program is presented by the Japanese American National Museum’s Discover Nikkei project. Community Partners: Okinawan Association of America, Inc.; Hawaii United Okinawa Association; Peru Okinawa Association; Associação Okinawa Kenjin do Brasil / Centro Cultural Okinawa do Brasil. Supported by The Nippon Foundation.

 

NIMA VOICES

“Nima” are members of the Discover Nikkei online community. Hailing from all around the world, they each bring unique experiences and perspectives to the site’s rich archive of stories. We are thrilled to present Nima Voices, a series where we uplift our Nima through brief, but enlightening, interviews!

Nima Voices: Episode 14—Michael Kenji Abe

October 4, 2023

In the fourteenth episode, Canadian Sansei Michael Kenji Abe, project manager for Past Wrongs, Future Choices, was interviewed by guest host Sherri Kajiwara, Director of the Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre in Burnaby, British Columbia. They chatted about his father’s family’s experiences during World War II; living in Japan; and the Past Wrongs, Future Choices and Landscapes of Injustice projects.

 

Nima Voices: Episode 13—Alden M. Hayashi

June 20, 2023

In the thirteenth episode, Alden M. Hayashi, a Sansei writer originally from Hawai‘i now living in Boston, was interviewed by guest host Mia Barnett, co-chair of Okaeri, a Nikkei LGBTQ+ community group. They chatted about why he decided to shift from writing about science, technology, and business to writing about Nikkei experiences and his first novel, Two Nails, One Love; his relationship with his family and cultural connections; and his sense of identity as a gay Nikkei man.

 

Nima Voices: Episode 12—Kristen Nemoto Jay 

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

In the twelfth episode, Kristen Nemoto Jay, editor of The Hawaii Herald, was interviewed by guest host Shari Y. Tamashiro, a cybrarian who has helped share the stories of Hawai‘i Japanese and Okinawans through various projects. Last year, Discover Nikkei began sharing articles by Kristen originally published in The Herald. Her late grandfather, a 442nd RCT veteran, helped create the sister-city relationship between Bruyeres, France and Honolulu, Hawai‘i. They chatted about her family and background, Japanese American history and communities in Hawai‘i, The Hawai‘i Herald, and more!

 

Nima Voices: Episode 11—Sergio Hernández Galindo

February 7, 2023

[Language: Spanish]

Sergio Hernández Galindo, an author and a professor and researcher with the Historical Studies Unit of Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History, was interviewed by guest host Alberto Matsumoto, a Nisei Argentine advocate, lecturer, writer, and judicial interpreter for Nikkei in Japan. Watch their conversation about Nikkei history and communities in Mexico, including the treatment of Japanese in Mexico during World War II and its longterm impact, both positive and negative—because they were forced to move to Mexico City and Guadalajara during the war, Nikkei communities are concentrated in those cities to this day. They also discussed Japanese participation in the Mexican Revolution, Tatsugoro Matsumoto, Carlos Kasuga and his mother Mitsuko, Masao Imuro (a little-known ultra-nationalist who was under surveillance by the US government), and more!

 

Nima Voices: Episode 10—Gil Asakawa

October 25, 2022

In the tenth episode, Denver-based author Gil Asakawa was interviewed by guest host Nancy Matsumoto, a freelance writer and editor who covers agroecology, food and drink, the arts, and Japanese/Japanese American culture. Gil chatted with Nancy about his background; sense of identity as a Japanese American; his newly released book, Tabemasho! Let’s Eat!: A Tasty History of Japanese Food in America; stereotyping and social justice issues; his love of food; and more!

 

Nima Voices: Episode 9—Greg Robinson

July 12, 2022

In the ninth episode, Greg Robinson, a noted author and scholar of Japanese and Canadian American history, was interviewed by guest host Lisa Doi, a curatorial assistant at the Japanese American National Museum and a PhD Student in American Studies at Indiana University. Greg has been contributing articles to Discover Nikkei since 2009, shedding light on extraordinary, yet little-known Nikkei, many of which were published in an award-winning anthology, The Unsung Great: Portraits of Extraordinary Japanese Americans. They chatted about some of his favorite stories from the book, his connections to Discover Nikkei, and more!

 

Episode 8—Laura Honda-Hasegawa

March 15, 2022

[Language: Portuguese]

The 8th episode (and first in Portuguese!) featured Laura Honda-Hasegawa, a Sansei from São Paulo, Brazil, whose writing shares her and others’ experiences and perspectives of being Nikkei. She was interviewed live by guest host Patricia Murakami, a Japanese Brazilian lawyer from São Paulo who is active in many Nikkei associations. They discussed Ohayo Bom Dia, Laura’s first Discover Nikkei series about being Brazilian Nikkei; her fictional stories exploring life for dekasegi living in Japan; Nikkei communities in Brazil; her experiences living in Japan; Discover Nikkei; and more.

 

Episode 7—Ryusuke Kawai



December 8, 2021

[Language: Japanese]

The 7th episode of Nima Voices (and first in Japanese!) featured Ryusuke Kawai, a Japanese journalist and non-fiction writer. He was interviewed live by guest host Masako Miki, Japanese External Relations Officer at the Japanese American National Museum. Ryusuke shared his background as a journalist; how he got interested in exploring “Nikkei” topics; his Japanese translation of the book “No-No Boy” by John Okada; his writings about Sukeji Morikami, the only Yamato Colony member to remain in Florida; and about Shinichi Kato, who published the book “Beikoku Nikkeijin Hyakunenshi (100 years of Nikkei in the United States),” and more.

 

Episode 6—Christine Piper



September 7, 2021

The sixth episode featured Christine Piper, an award-winning, mixed-race Japanese-Australian author. She was interviewed live by guest host Emily Anderson (Project Curator at JANM and a specialist on modern Japan) about her family background; her writing; the Japanese/Nikkei community in Australia, especially during World War II; and her experience as a field research facilitator for the Global Nikkei Young Adult Research Project.

 

Episode 5—Jay Horinouchi

July 6, 2021

The fifth episode featured Jay Horinouchi—a Japanese American artist/consultant—interviewed by guest host Soji Kashiwagi. They talked about the challenges of designing the Nikkei Chronicles graphics and reflected on the 10th anniversary of the Great Tohoku Kanto earthquake. Jay was living in Japan in 2011 and assisted with post-tsunami recovery efforts. As Executive Director of the Grateful Crane Ensemble, Soji led three goodwill tours to Tohoku in 2014, 2016, and 2018 where the group performed songs of hope and healing for survivors.

 

Episode 4—Juan Alberto Matsumoto

April 27, 2021

[Language: Spanish]

The fourth episode—also the first Spanish episode—of “Nima Voices” features Japanese Argentinean Alberto Matsumoto with guest host, Monica Kogiso. They are both Nisei, originally from Escobar, Argentina. Alberto talked about his background, a city of Escobar where he grew up, Nikkei communities in Argentina, his identity, education for childen of dekasegi, Nikkei in Japan, his Malvinas war experiences, and more. Read Alberto’s work hereWatch his oral history interview here.

Mónica Kogiso is a communicator and cultural bridge between Japan and Argentina. She is a production coordinator for Japanese media and organizes trips and events that promote ties among various peoples and cultures. She is a former president of Centro Nikkei Argentino, and participates actively in the Panamerican Nikkei Association. She promotes and works to support the development of Nikkei youth leaders in Argentina and Latin America. She has been a longtime collaborator with Discover Nikkei.

 

Episode 3—Tamiko Nimura

March 2, 2021

The third episode featured Discover Nikkei contributor Tamiko Nimura with guest host, Japanese American youth activist Justin Kawaguchi. Tamiko talked about her family—especially her uncle, the late playwright Hiroshi Kashiwagi; her sense of cultural identity and the importance of traditions; the Nikkei community in the Pacific Northwest, particularly Tacoma, WA; and her upcoming book, a co-written graphic novel, titled We Hereby Refuse: Japanese American Resistance to Wartime Incarceration (Chin Music Press/Wing Luke Asian Museum). Read Tamiko’s work here.

 

Episode 2—Erik Matsunaga

December 15, 2020

The second episode featured Erik Matsunaga with guest host, award-winning author Naomi Hirahara. Erik talked about his family, projects to map historic Japanese American neighborhoods in Chicago, his @windycitynikkei Instagram account, and his other articles on Discover Nikkei. Read Erik’s work here.

Naomi Hirahara is the author of the Edgar Award-winning Mas Arai mystery series, she has written several 12-part serials for Discover Nikkei, including her latest, Ten Days of Cleanup. Her historical mystery, Clark and Division, set in 1944 Chicago, will be released in August 2021 by Soho Crime. Read Naomi’s stories on Discover Nikkei.

 

Episode 1—Chuck Tasaka

October 27, 2020

The inaugural episode featured Japanese Canadian Chuck Tasaka with guest host, actor and comedian Kyle Mizono. Chuck talked about unique Canadian Nikkei foods; how Greenwood, BC became the first Japanese Canadian internment camp during WWII and remained a Nikkei community after the war; Nisei nicknames; his Nikkei heroes; and more. Read all of Chuck's stories here.

Kyle Mizono is a comedian based in Los Angeles who recently made a Comedy Central digital series called “Girl Kyle.” She’s also been featured on NPR’s This American Life, Viceland, FreeForm, and Adult Swim.

 

OTHER PAST PROGRAMS

Imagine Little Tokyo Writing Workshop with Susan Ito and Naomi Hirahara

January 13, 2024

Award-winning authors Susan Kiyo Ito and Naomi Hirahara presented an interactive writing workshop. Participants learned tips and received advice for writing short stories that they can submit to the eleventh annual Imagine Little Tokyo short story contest.

Presented by Little Tokyo Historic Society in partnership with Discover Nikkei, the purpose of the Imagine Little Tokyo short story contest is to raise awareness of Little Tokyo through a creative story that takes place in the historic neighborhood. The story must be fictional and set in a current, past, or future Little Tokyo, Los Angeles. The short story committee will be looking for stories that capture the spirit and sense of Little Tokyo.

 

10th Annual Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest Awards Ceremony

May 20, 2023

Marvel at the amazing and creative ways that writers can imagine Little Tokyo and expand the fictional boundaries of the Japanese American experience. This was the 10th anniversary of the Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest and the first time the ceremony was held in person since 2019! 

In this celebration emceed by Tamlyn Tomita, Kevin Awakuni (English, Youth); Yuko Kaifu (Japanese language), and Iris Yamashita (English, Adult) represented their respective judges panels to present remarks and introduce the winning stories—“The Last Days of The Dandy Lion” by DC Palter (Adult); “One Thousand Cranes” by Jocelyn Doan (Youth); and “Color” by Miho Hirayama (Japanese). The stories were showcased with dramatic readings (pre-recorded) by actor Mika Dyo (Youth) and Mayumi Saco (Japanese). Actor Greg Watanabe read the Adult cateory winning story live. 

 

*The Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest heightens awareness of Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo by challenging both new and experienced writers to write a story that captures the spirit and essence of Little Tokyo and the people in it. Each category winner was awarded a cash prize.

 

Greg Watanabe is a veteran theater performer who appeared in Allegiance on Broadway. Other credits include Off-Broadway appearances in Ballad Of Yachiyo (Public Theater) and Golden Child (Signature Theater). Regionally, he performed in Cambodian Rock Band, Romeo and Juliet, The Summer Moon, Extraordinary Chambers, The Happy Ones, and Hold These Truths. Recently he appeared in Our Town, The Great Leap, and Kim’s Convenience.

Some television credits include Madam Secretary, Criminal Minds, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Reno 911.



Mika Dyo (she/her/theirs) is a theatre artist dedicated to amplifying the voices of silenced communities. She recently played Sue Hasegawa in the 2022 film, No No Girl and hopes to continue to share stories of the Japanese American community. They recently received a BA in Theatre Arts from CSULB and are grateful for the love and support of her family.





Mayumi Saco is one of Japan’s top-tier voice and theater actresses. She is well-known in the Japanese market as the voice of major Hollywood talents in blockbuster films such as Scarlet Johansson in Iron Man 2; Jessica Chastain in The Eyes of Tammy Faye and Zero Dark Thirty; Margot Robbie in I, Tonya; Emma Stone in Battle of the Sexes; Keira Knightley in The Imitation Game; Zazie Beetz in Deadpool 2 and more.

She is also highly sought-after for her versatility in voicing characters in many popular US drama series including: Sharp Objects, Maniac, Lucifer, The Good Doctor, Sense8, Star Wars: Andor, Star Trek: Picard, Magnum P.I., Loki, etc. And, Saco has now become a known presence in the field of anime and game voice work such as Ghibli’s Spirited Away, Vinland Saga, Go! Princess PreCure, Blade of the Immortal, Ghost of Tsushima and Resident Evil 6.


To read the past winning stories: 123456789  

*The contest is presented by Little Tokyo Historical Society in partnership with JANM’s Discover Nikkei project.

 

Imagine Little Tokyo 2023 Short Story Editing Workshop

January 19, 2023

Oscar-nominated screenwriter and debut novelist Iris Yamashita and veteran writer and editor Gary Phillips hosted an interactive, virtual workshop with tips on how to polish a short story before submission to the 10th Annual Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story ContestMiya Iwataki, co-chair of the Imagine Little Tokyo short story committee moderated the workshop. Iris Yamashita, Oscar-nominated screenwriter of Letters from Iwojima, released her debut novel, City Under One Roof, this month. Gary Phillips edited South Central Noir (Akashic), which featured one of Naomi's short stories set in a now defunct Japanese movie theater on Crenshaw. 

This writing workshop is held in conjunction with the 10th Annual Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest, organized by the Little Tokyo Historical Society in partnership with the Japanese American National Museum’s Discover Nikkei project.

Deadline to submit your fictional story about Little Tokyo is January 31, 2023The story must be fictional and set in a current, past, or future Little Tokyo, Los Angeles. The short story committee will be specifically looking for stories that capture the spirit and sense of Little Tokyo. Learn more about submitting your story at the Little Tokyo Historical Society website.

To read the past winning stories: 123456789  

 

Combining Culinary Cultures: A Conversation with Nikkei Chefs from Los Angeles, São Paulo, and Lima

December 3, 2022 

[Language: English, Español, Português]

Discover Nikkei presented a virtual conversation with noted Nikkei chefs—Niki Nakayama of n/naka (Los Angeles, CA, US), Telma Shiraishi of Restaurante Aizomê (São Paulo, Brazil), and Roger Arakaki of Sushi Ito (Lima, Peru)—moderated by Gil Asakawa, author of the recently published book, Tabemasho! Let’s Eat!: A Tasty History of Japanese Food in America. The chefs discussed their cultural backgrounds and how it has influenced their culinary styles, their thoughts on “Nikkei food,” and more.

*This program was presented with simultaneous translation in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. 

 

For Niki Nakayama, chef and owner of n/naka and n/soto, the art of cooking comes down to feeling. Always one to follow her intuition, Nakayama’s instincts guide her path as a chef, and it continues to be the driving force behind every dish she creates. n/naka, her highly acclaimed Two MICHELIN Star restaurant in West Los Angeles, serves as a global destination for modern kaiseki with a California twist, at which Nakayama—alongside wife and Sous Chef Carole Iida-Nakayama—serves world-class, artfully curated, and exquisite dishes in a progression designed to reflect the mood of season, time, and place.



Telma Shiraishi is the head chef of Restaurante Aizomê, which crafts Japanese food with Brazilian and Japanese ingredients, and commands an Aizomê unit at the Japan House São Paulo. Her cuisine is based on a balanced combination between hot and cold recipes with authentically Japanese values, seasonal and local ingredients. Telma is also in charge of the kitchen at the Japanese Consulate in São Paulo, where she holds the title of Japanese Cuisine Goodwill Ambassador, which was granted by the Japanese Government through the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries. Telma is the first Brazilian professional and one of the few women in the world to receive the honor. 



Roger Arakaki graduated from La Unión, a school serving the Nikkei community, and initially enrolled at Universidad Ricardo Palma. He majored in architecture, but later set off in a new direction when he traveled to Japan and stayed there for nine years, immersing himself in the country’s ancient culture and wide-ranging cuisine. Arakaki is the chef and co-owner of Sushi-Ito, a restaurant founded more than 25 years ago in Peru that offers the best of Japanese and Nikkei cuisine. He is also a leader in efforts to raise awareness about Japanese and Nikkei cuisine in Peru and throughout the world, traveling to numerous provinces and countries to promote Peruvian-Japanese cuisine. In 2021, he was chosen as a Bicentennial Chef as part of the commemoration of the bicentennial of Peru’s independence, and was recognized by the US Senate for his achievements in Peruvian and Nikkei cuisine in East Hampton, New York.



At n/naka, West Los Angeles’s highly acclaimed Two MICHELIN Star Japanese restaurant, Sous Chef Carole Iida-Nakayama utilizes her in-depth knowledge of Japanese cooking and highly organizational nature to support her wife, Chef/Owner Niki Nakayama, in the creation of a modern kaiseki dining experience. In March 2021 they launched n/soto in the West Adams neighborhood of Los Angeles as a takeout-only restaurant focusing on bento. It opened its doors in April 2022 as an izakaya-inspired Japanese restaurant. Translating to “outside” in Japanese, “soto” refers both to the pandemic that closed people off from the outside world and the menu’s exploration of Japanese cuisine as interpreted throughout Los Angeles.

*This program is sponsored by The Nippon Foundation and is presented in partnership with the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center, JCI Brasil-Japão, and Asociación Peruano Japonesa. Additional support is provided by Onigiri Producciones.

                  

 

Nikkei Uncovered III: a poetry reading

September 15, 2022

Our third annual virtual poetry reading presented a powerful lineup of poets previously featured in Discover Nikkei’s Nikkei Uncovered: a poetry column, hosted by traci kato-kiriyama (author of Navigating With(out) Instruments). The poets were chosen to reflect on the theme of gathering. What does it mean to gather in a time of physical and social separation? How can poetry bring us together?

Featured poets: Sawako Nakayasu, Emily Mitamura, and Amy Uyematsu 

 

9th Annual Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest Virtual Celebration

May 26, 2022

The winners of the 9th Annual Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest were presented in a virtual celebration and dramatic readings of the winning stories by noted actors, Keiko Agena, Helen Ota, and Megumi Anjo. Ellen Endo (English Adult), Elizabeth Ito (English Youth), and Akira Tsurukame (Japanese language) represented their respective judges panels to present remarks and introduce the winners—Xueyou Wang, Hailey Hua, and Mutsuki Nao. The event was emceed by Derek Mio and included remarks by Little Tokyo Historical Society President Michael Okamura.

The contest is presented by Little Tokyo Historical Society in partnership with JANM’s Discover Nikkei project.

 

What Is Nikkei Food?

February 26, 2022

Nikkei and others from around the world gathered virtually to explore what is “Nikkei food” and the role that it plays in Nikkei families and communities internationally. Japanese American writer, Gil Asakawa, emceed and moderated the program that included a presentation by Shigeru Kojima (researcher at the Japanese Overseas Migration Museum, Yokohama, Japan), facilitated small group discussions, and optional post-event discussions via Zoom. The recording below includes the presentation and Q&A with Kojima, plus some break-out session reports and program closing.

This program was presented in English with Spanish and Portuguese simultaneous translations to facilitate international participation, with over 180 participants from at least 13 countries. We will be adding subtitles in Spanish and Portuguese. Check back for an article sharing more from the facilitators’ reports. Sign up for Discover Nikkei’s email list or follow us on Facebook or Twitter to find out when those have been added.

*This program was presented with community partners: JCI Brazil - Japan, Nikkei Australia, and Asociación Peruano Japonesa.

 

Imagine Little Tokyo 2022 Writing Workshop

January 27, 2022 

Award winning author Naomi Hirahara and Little Tokyo Historical Society leader Mike Okamura led a virtual interactive story writing workshop where participants learned tips and get advice for writing short stories that they can submit to the 9th Annual Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest

The story must be fictional and set in a current, past, or future Little Tokyo, Los Angeles. The short story committee will be specifically looking for stories that capture the spirit and sense of Little Tokyo.  Learn more about submitting your story.

*Presented by Little Tokyo Historic Society in partnership with Discover Nikkei, the purpose of the Imagine Little Tokyo short story contest is to raise awareness of Little Tokyo through a creative story that takes place in the historic neighborhood. 

 

8th Annual Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest: A Virtual Celebration

May 23, 2021

The winners of the 8th Annual Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest were presented in a virtual celebration and dramatic readings of the winning stories by noted theatre artists, Greg WatanabeJully Lee, and Eiji Inoue. Susie Ling (English Adult), Andie Kimura (English Youth), and Makiko Nakasone (Japanese language) represented their respective judges panels to present remarks and introduce the winners—Jacob LauxCasey Murase, and ShoRei. The event was emceed by Michael Palma and included remarks by Little Tokyo Historical Society President Michael Okamura and LTHS board member Jeffrey Gee Chin's announcement of the upcoming LTHS publication, A Rebel's Outcray.

The contest is presented by Little Tokyo Historical Society in partnership with JANM’s Discover Nikkei project.

 

Nikkei Uncovered: a poetry reading

May 13, 2021

Our second annual virtual poetry reading presented a powerful lineup of poets previously featured in Discover Nikkei’s Nikkei Uncovered: a poetry column, hosted by author, poet, and performer traci kato-kiriyama.

We reached out to pairs of poets who read works in conversation with each other. Each pair has their own unique relationship that brought depth of conversation and insight into their poetry. kato-kiriyama also provided prompts for audience members to write and reflect on.

Featured poets:

Amy Uyematsu and Miya Iwataki

Curtiss Takada Rooks and Mariko Fujimoto Rooks

Shō Tanaka and Paulette M. Moreno

 

What Does It Mean to Be Nikkei in 2021?

February 6, 2021

In 2018, The Nippon Foundation, in collaboration with the Japanese American National Museum launched the Global Nikkei Young Adult Research Project to examine how young adult Nikkei around the world feel about and express their Japanese heritage. Analyzing the data from a worldwide survey and global regional focus groups, the project sought to obtain a deeper understanding of their similarities and differences, as well as their celebrations and challenges.

The main presentation by Dr. Curtiss Takada Rooks and Dr. Lindsey Sasaki Kogasaka provided an overview of the final report findings, followed by a brief Q&A.

The program was presented in English with Spanish and Portuguese simultaneous translations to facilitate international participation, with over 130 participants from at least 14 countries. The event included small group discussions and an optional networking opportunity.

This program was presented in partnership with Department of Asian and Asian American Studies of Loyola Marymount University.

 

Imagine Little Tokyo Writing Workshop With Naomi Hirahara and Bill Watanabe

January 28, 2021

Award-winning author Naomi Hirahara and Little Tokyo community leader Bill Watanabe led an interactive story writing workshop where articipants learned tips and got advice for writing short stories that they can submit to the eighth annual Imagine Little Tokyo short story contest.

*Presented by Little Tokyo Historical Society in partnership with Discover Nikkei, the purpose of the Imagine Little Tokyo short story contest is to raise awareness of Little Tokyo through a creative story that takes place in the historic neighborhood.

 

7th Annual Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest: A Virtual Celebration

July 23, 2020

The winners of the 7th Annual Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest were presented in a virtual celebration and dramatic readings of the winning stories by actors Derek Mio, Tamlyn Tomita, and Eijiro Ozaki. Brian Niiya (Adult category), Kelsey Iino (Youth), and Makiko Nakasone (Japanese language) represented their respective judges panels to present remarks and introduce the winners—James Fujita, Onassa Sun, and Junzo Arai. The event was emceed by Marilyn Tokuda and included remarks by Little Tokyo Historical Society President Michael Okamura and a short video about Little Tokyo by Steve Nagano.

 * The contest is presented by Little Tokyo Historical Society in partnership with Discover Nikkei.

 

Nikkei Uncovered: a poetry reading

May 21, 2020

Discover Nikkei’s Nikkei Uncovered: a poetry column shares poems each month from the Nikkei community around themes curated by author, poet, and performer traci kato-kiriyama. Nikkei Uncovered went live with a powerful, intergenerational lineup of poets previously featured in the column to share their poetry in an online reading. Hosted by traci, the interactive reading and reflection featured Maiya Kuida-Osumi, Courtney Ozaki, Micah Tasaka, and Mitsuye Yamada, followed by a short open mic portion.

 

From Japan to Mexico: A Nikkei Story from Veracruz

September 29, 2018

Julio Mizzumi Guerrero Kojima and Belen Torres Morales are descendants of immigrants who left Japan to work in the sugar plantations in Veracruz, Mexico, in the early 1900s. They are musicians with expertise in the Fandango, a tradition specific to Veracruz that is rooted in community convening and participation. They also are part of an environmental/community gardening project in Veracruz called Jardin Kojima. They performed with musician César Castro and spoke about their family’s history, their expertise in Fandango, and their environmental project.

This program was presented by the Japanese American National Museum in partnership with FandangObon.