Inspire Forward: Nikkei Heroes Under 30

This monthly series features interviews with young Nikkei who are 30 years old and younger from around the world who are helping to shape and build the future of Nikkei communities or doing innovative and creative work sharing and exploring Nikkei history, culture, and identity.  

Logo design by Alison Skilbred

culture en

From Chibi-K to Chicago: Code Switching and Curatorial Practice with Nolan Jimbo

While his life and work can be traced from Los Angeles to Paris then on to contemporary art museums and art galleries, the one consistent throughline for Nolan Jimbo is his connection to the Japanese American community.
 

A Japanese American Childhood in Los Angeles

Selected one of the 30 Changemakers Under 30 to celebrate JANM’s 30th anniversary in 2022, Jimbo grew up in the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles playing Japanese American basketball for the Hollywood Dodgers, spending summers at local Obon festivals, and participating in Japanese American youth organizations such as Rising Stars. He ran in the …

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identity en

Karen Tengan Okuda: Exploring and Expressing Her Uchinānchu / Okinawan Identity

As a second-generation Uchinānchu (Okinawan immigrant), Karen Tengan Okuda lives and works on the unceded lands of the Eora and Dharug peoples (Sydney, Australia). Okuda works as a Social Media Community Specialist for Special Broadcasting Service Australia. 

She is also a founding member and an editor of a magazine, Shimanchu Nu Kwii (meaning “voices of Shimanchu” in Uchināguchi). 

“The magazine was born out of a desire to create a space where Shimanchu (island people) all over the world can connect with each other and share our stories,” said Okuda. Focusing on themes such as “Honoring Our Ancestors” and “Shimanchu …

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community en

Politics, Taiko, and Nikkei Activism with Kota Mizutani

Introduction

Kota Mizutani grew up in rural Sonoma County, California, where he gradually became aware of Japanese American traditions that surrounded him as a child; teriyaki festivals, obons, taiko performances. He began playing taiko himself at the age of six, he told Discover Nikkei in a recent interview, and it was history and community surrounding Japanese drumming that grounded him in his Nikkei identity. These days, he is 26 years old and continues playing with Mark H Taiko in the Washington DC metro area.

He has also become a strong voice for the Japanese American community in politics as a …

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community en pt

Douglas Mitsuyuki Ito is the Creator of a Network that Connects Young Nikkei from All Over Brazil

On the paternal side, his great-grandfather’s parents came from the Hokkaido Prefecture and his great-grandmother’s from Gunma. On his mother’s side, his great-grandfather’s parents were from Miyagi and his great-grandmother’s from Yamaguchi and Hiroshima. These are the family origins of the 25-year-old Yonsei Douglas Mitsuyuki Ito, who holds a degree in Information Technology Management.

Family culture

“I feel that up until my grandparents’ generation there was a very strong Japanese cultural presence, with the practice of Buddhism and old customs, as well as the use of the language,” Douglas says. He adds that his paternal grandparents have always been involved—and …

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identity en ja es pt

Vini Taguchi, A Civil Engineer for Social Justice—Part 2

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Joining the JACL

The Kakehashi program was Vini’s first experience where all the participants were Asian and Pacific Islander Americans. “I immediately discovered that I felt more at home in this community than I ever had with my Japanese friends because suddenly I was in a diverse group of Americans with varying racial identities and Japanese language abilities where my background was still unique but not so ‘different’ as it normally was.”

“After the Kakehashi trip,” wrote Vini, “I longed to stay connected with my newfound Japanese American identity, but it was not immediately clear how I …

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Tags

advocacy Australia Australian Brazil Bunkyo California Chcago Chibi-K Chicago civil engineer curators diaspora Douglas Mitsuyuki Ito identity jacl JACL Japanese values Kakehashi Karen Tengan Okuda language Liga Seinen Little Tokyo magazine Mark H Taiko minnesota