Documenting the untold stories of Nikkei (Japanese American) Chicago シカゴにおける日系人に関する記事のサイト
“The city resides, and the pavement whispers. We listen. And we are here to document the vibrant story of the Nikkei community here in the Windy City. We move through dusty alleys and gleaming skyscrapers, from the first light on a wintry frost to the evening sunset over the stillness of the lake. And we write. And we share. These are our scribbled notes.”
Our mission is to develop fresh, original content grounded in a commitment to the broad Nikkei (Japanese American) community and dedicated towards the highest standards of professional quality journalism. This site will publish feature articles that highlight the untold stories of the Japanese American community of Chicago (including the Greater Chicagoland area), past and present. You can follow the website on Twitter @NikkeiChicago.
All works on this website are protected under copyright laws by their respective authors and may not be published or used without author permission. Links to stories through this website are, however, encouraged.
Ryan Masaaki Yokota (Lead Editor/Writer/Founder) is a Yonsei/Shin-Nisei Nikkei who originally hails from Southern California. Currently he is an Instructor in the History Department at DePaul University. He received his Ph.D. in East Asian (Japanese) History at the University of Chicago, and had previously received his M.A. in Asian American Studies at UCLA. His academic publications include a recent article on Okinawan Indigenousness, a chapter on Okinawan Peruvians in Los Angeles, an article on Japanese and Okinawans in Cuba, and an interview with Asian American Movement activist Pat Sumi. His articles and op-eds have been featured in the Japan Times, the Ryukyu Shimpo, and the Rafu Shimpo. Following the onset of World War II, his great-grandfather was wrongfully arrested and incarcerated in the Los Angeles City Jail, the Tuna Canyon Detention Station in Tujunga, California, the Department of Justice internment camp at Fort Missoula, Montana, and the Japanese American concentration camp at Rohwer, Arkansas. Additionally, his grandparents and father survived the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima. Follow him on Twitter @RyanYokota.
Ellen D. Wu (Writer), a second-generation Chinese American and native Hoosier, earned her M.A. in Asian American Studies at UCLA and her Ph.D. in History at the University of Chicago. Currently she is assistant professor of history at Indiana University Bloomington, where she researches and teaches modern United States and Asian American history. Her writing has been published in Chinese America: History and Perspectives, the Pacific Historical Review, the Journal of American Ethnic History, Gidra, Densho, the History News Network, and has recently published an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times on the Amy Chua controversy and the “model minority” myth. She is the author of The Color of Success: Asian Americans and the Origins of the Model Minority (Princeton University Press, 2014), the first full-length historical study of the invention of the “model minority” stereotype between the 1930s and the 1960s. Follow her on Twitter @ellendwu.
Stephanie Sunata (Contributor) is a fourth-generation American whose ancestors came from China and Japan. Many of her fondest memories from growing up in Colorado are those with her Nisei grandfather telling tales from his experiences in WWII. This served as a foundation for her love of storytelling. When she decided to pursue a Masters of Science in journalism at Northwestern University, her grandpa’s stories served as inspiration for much of her work. Since graduation Stephanie has worked on various independent projects, including a Carnegie Foundation Grant to cover what’s next for particle physicists. She is also an intern at Kartemquin Films in Chicago and hopes the experience will help her make a documentary about Japanese-American soldiers who served in WWII. Visit her website at: http://stephaniesunata.wordpress.com/
Daniel Izui (Contributor) is a Yonsei from Evanston, Illinois. He is a graduate of the Brooks Institute’s film school in Santa Barbara and Ventura, California. His grandfather, Victor Izui, was a medic during World War II in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Much of Daniel’s childhood was spent listening to his grandfather’s experiences of the relocation and the war. The stories of his grandfather and many other veterans continue to fascinate and influence him in his life and his work as a filmmaker. In 2012 he was commissioned by the Japanese American Citizens League – Chicago to direct the film Gaman: Portraits of Chicago Nisei World War II Veterans, a documentary short for the Nikkei World War II Veterans Tribute in Chicago. He currently works as a filmmaker and photographer at Izui Photography, Inc. More of Daniel’s work can be found at www.danielizui.com and www.izui.com.
Jason Matsumoto (Contributor) is a fourth-generation Japanese American from Chicago. Both sides of his family found themselves in the city after his Nisei grandparents resettled from the WWII incarceration sites in Rohwer, Arkansas and Tule Lake, CA. Matsumoto earned a business degree from the University of Washington in Seattle and spent a year in Japan as a study-abroad student attending Sophia University in Tokyo. While his day job challenges him to strategically develop markets for derivative products at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, his true passion follows a more creative arc. Matsumoto has been involved in taiko (Japanese percussion) since age six and continues to develop as a musician and composer through his role as director of Chicago’s Ho Etsu Taiko Ensemble (website: www.hoetsu.com | Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/hoetsutaiko). He is also the owner of a production company that currently supports his directorial endeavors. To date, he has directed two short documentary films commissioned by the Japanese American Citizens League. Both films follow a group of students on a pilgrimage to historic Japanese American confinement sites where they engage in conversations about modern communities and civil liberties.
Bob Kumaki (Writer) is a Sansei from Wilmette, IL. Recognized as one of the nation’s foremost authorities on Asian American marketing, he is the author of the landmark Many Cultures, One Market: A Guide to Understanding Opportunities in the Asian Pacific American Market, the first book of its kind, and adopted by universities and the private sector as the definitive book on the subject. Bob has served as a Founder, Officer, or Director of over a dozen non-profit groups including the Asian American Institute, the Japan America Society, the Japanese American Service Committee, and the Heiwa Terrace Housing Corporation. In 2009, Bob was chosen by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs as one of only 13 American delegates on a political/cultural/trade mission to Japan. Visit his websites at http://www.roningrp.net/ and http://www.manyculturesonemarket.com/.
Mayumi Hoshino (Writer) is a scholar of US and cultural history interested in issues of identity, culture and nationalism among immigrants. She earned her Ph.D. in History at Indiana University-Bloomington with a minor in Jewish Studies. Initially enjoying researching Jewish Americans in New York learning Yiddish, she gradually expanded her interest to include other immigrant groups including her own–Japanese immigrants. Her dissertation, “Strangers in the Heartland: Cultural Identity in Flux, Japanese Americans in Chicago, 1892-1942”, explores the ways in which Japanese who settled in the city viewed themselves (and were viewed by others) in terms of race, ethnicity, and nationalism. She argues that Japanese immigrants continuously redefined their identity in reaction to local, regional, and national political events. Her project aims to produce the first comprehensive history of the Japanese-American community in Chicago from its beginnings through the 1940s. During her dissertation research, she was able to locate various century-old historical documents in both the US and Japan and also enjoyed meeting Japanese descendants in Chicago, who ended up letting her use their family memorabilia in her story. She is very grateful to these individuals for their amazing kindness in offering materials to help her develop her findings.
Miki Takeshita (Writer) is a rising senior at the University of Chicago, majoring in history. She is a shin-nisei from New York. She thanks JACL Chicago and the Japanese American community for giving her the opportunity to participate in the Kansha Project.
Takako Day (Writer), originally from Kobe, Japan, is an award-winning freelance writer and independent researcher who has published seven books and hundreds of articles in the Japanese and English languages. Her latest book, SHOW ME THE WAY TO GO HOME: The Moral Dilemma of Kibei No No Boys in World War Two Incarceration Camps is her first book in English. Relocating from Japan to Berkeley in 1986 and working as a reporter at the Nichibei Times in San Francisco first opened Day’s eyes to social and cultural issues in multicultural America. Since then, she has written from the perspective of a cultural minority for more than 30 years on such subjects as Japanese and Asian American issues in San Francisco, Native American issues in South Dakota (where she lived for seven years) and most recently (since 1999), the history of little known Japanese Americans in pre-war Chicago. Her piece on Michitaro Ongawa is born of her love of Chicago.