Nima of the Month

Nima are members of our Discover Nikkei Nima-kai community. Our Nima of the Month are some of our most active participants. Learn more about them and what they like about Discover Nikkei.

January 2023

roxsylin (California, United States)

Roxsy Lin is a Latinx author/illustrator. She grew up in Merida, Venezuela, but is now based in California, where she works as a freelance illustrator, primarily on children’s books. She believes they can foster community, empathy, and compassion, bringing light to the most challenging times. See more at

Roxsy began volunteering for Discover Nikkei this summer and has already created two delightful illustrations to celebrate Christmas and Oshogatsu. We look forward to working with her more this year!

What made you decide to volunteer for Discover Nikkei?

I love Japanese culture. I grew up watching anime as a child. Then as I got older, I developed an interest in Japanese arts. I fell in love with ukiyo-e, sumi-e, and classic Japanese literature. When the opportunity came to volunteer with Discover Nikkei, I couldn’t be more excited. Learning about the Nikkei experience and how Japanese people have integrated into different cultures around the world has been very enriching for me. I’m eager to connect with the Discover Nikkei community, and I look forward to keeping illustrating many more exciting topics for them.

Where do you get your ideas for your illustrations?

My main source of inspiration is my childhood memories. I grew up with my mom and grandparents in Merida, a tiny mountain town in Venezuela. My hometown is full of colors, flavors, and music, which I carry around everywhere I go. Those experiences have become an endless source of inspiration for me. The smell of hot guarapo—a delicious drink made out of cane sugar—and the colors of the Frailejon flowers fill my soul with beautiful images. They keep me drawing and writing with the desire to share those memories with lots and lots of people.

Check out her illustrations for Discover Nikkei >>

December 2022

esnewman (Hawaii, United States)

Esther Newman grew up in California. After college and a career in marketing and media production for Ohio’s Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, she returned to school to study twentieth century American history.

While in graduate school, she became interested in her family’s history which led to research on topics affecting the Japanese diaspora including World War II incarceration camps, migration, and assimilation. She is now retired, but continues to enjoy writing about these subjects.

Esther’s first contribution to Discover Nikkei was a 7-part essay about her grandfather, Yoshitaro Amano, a prominent Issei businessman who was seized from Panama and imprisoned during World War II. She was a volunteer for Discover Nikkei from 2010-2015. After a hiatus, she returned in 2021, and continues to interview authors, filmmakers, community leaders, and innovators for Discover Nikkei. Esther was previously selected Nima of the Month in March 2011.

What is your favorite story that you’ve written for Discover Nikkei?

My favorite story is always the one I’m currently working on. The farther away I get from my own youth, the more impressed I’ve been by the young people profiled in the Inspire Forward: Nikkei Heroes Under 30 series. I’m grateful for the opportunity to write about some of them.

What is the most meaningful thing that has happened as a result of your connection to Discover Nikkei?

I expected to meet interesting people by volunteering for Discover Nikkei and I certainly have. However, I didn’t expect to receive emails and photos from a family member I never knew existed who now resides in Vietnam. She found me through my articles posted on Discover Nikkei.

Read her stories >>

November 2022

karenkawa7 (New York, United States)

Karen Kawaguchi is a writer based in New York City. She was born in Tokyo to a Japanese mother and a Nisei father from Seattle, but grew up primarily in the Chicago area, before moving to Okinawa where she attended high school. Following graduation from Wesleyan University in Connecticut, she lived in Washington, DC; Dallas; and Seattle. She recently retired as an editor in educational publishing, having worked for Heinemann, Pearson, and other leading publishers. She volunteers for Literacy Partners (adult ESL) and enjoys going to Japan Society, art museums, and botanical gardens. She feels fortunate to be able to draw deeply from the three cultures in her life: Japanese, American, and Japanese-American.

Karen began volunteering for Discover Nikkei in April 2022, and has already written articles for the Inspire Forward: Nikkei Heroes Under 30 series and an interview with Mitch Homma about the importance of preserving and sharing family history. We look forward to presenting more stories by her in the future!

What do you like about Discover Nikkei?

The Nikkei community in the New York City area is relatively small and my extended family lives 3,000 miles away in Seattle and Portland. Discover Nikkei gives me a wonderful opportunity to learn about the rich lives of Nikkei around the world and to feel more connected to our community.

What do you like most about volunteering for Discover Nikkei?

It is a great honor to interview people, to learn about their contributions to their communities, and to write their stories to share with the Discover Nikkei community. Even though the people I’ve interviewed differ from me in terms of family history, geography, and life purpose, we’ve always found meaningful ways to share perspectives and to connect.

Read her stories >>

October 2022

gilasakawa (Denver, Colorado, United States)

Gil Asakawa is a journalist, editor, author, and blogger who covers Japan, Japanese American, and Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) culture and social justice issues in blogs, articles, and social media. He is a nationally-known speaker, panelist, and expert on Japanese American and Asian American history and identity. He’s the author of the recently published Tabemasho! Let’s Eat!: A Tasty History of Japanese Food in America and Being Japanese American.

Gil has been contributing articles to our website since 2009. In addition, he’s participated as a moderator for past Discover Nikkei programs—“From Newsprint to New Media: The Evolving Role of Nikkei Newspapers” program in Los Angeles (April 2011) and What Is Nikkei Food?” (February 2022). He will be interviewed in the upcoming Nima Voices: Episode 10 with guest host Nancy Matsumoto on October 25, and will be serving as moderator of the upcoming conversation with Nikkei chefs from Brazil, Peru, and the United States—stay tuned for details!

Gil is also part of Discover Nikkei’s Editorial Committee for the Itadakimasu 3! Nikkei Food, Family, and Community special series. He was previously a member of the editorial committees for Nikkei-go: The Language of Family, Community, and Culture and was named Nima of the Month in April 2011.

Why is it important to share diverse Nikkei stories from around the world?

The experiences of people who have roots in Japan but have spread out to other parts of the globe often go untold. In the United States, most people are unaware of the Japanese American stories of early immigration and wartime imprisonment. And too many Japanese in America don’t know about the history of Japanese in Canada, Latin America, or other parts of the world. That means we also don’t know about the cultures and traditions of Nikkei in other countries. Even though we share values, our cultures, including food, have been shaped by where we’ve settled. Knowing all our stories will give us a better understanding of our identities and create a stronger bond between all our communities.

What do you like most about Discover Nikkei’s virtual programs?

Technology has helped make the world less disconnected. When geography isn’t a barrier the way it has been throughout history, we can connect and build bridges, creating relationships with far-flung communities of Nikkei and share our stories and histories and cultural differences—and cultural similarities. I have very much enjoyed participating in virtual Discover Nikkei Programs that bring together people from Japan, Latin America, and North America. I’ve learned so much by watching and listening to virtual programs. This technology has been available for some years, but I have to say, the Coronavirus pandemic has had one very good side-effect: It’s forced us all to use online tools to hold virtual events that weave together our communities into an even more colorful tapestry than ever before.

Read his articles >>

September 2022

TTPM (Hyōgo, Japan)

Tuney-Tosheia P. McDaniels is a chemical disaster educator in Japan, educating on the risks of harmful and beneficial impacts of chemistry and chemical substances, including periodically to English learners in Japan.

She has been contributing articles to Discover Nikkei since 2021, ranging from economic uncertainty to the stigmatization of atomic bomb survivors to her own sense of identity—all from the unique perspective of someone of mixed race who grew up in the United States, but now lives in Japan.

She began volunteering for Discover Nikkei in Fall 2021. She helps with reviewing and editing article submissions. We look forward to continuing to work with her in the future!

What do you like about Discover Nikkei?

Discover Nikkei is a community that connects people with Japanese ancestry from different parts of the world you wouldn’t expect them to live in. Whether you have full or partial Japanese ancestry, this community has a place for everyone.

What do you like most about volunteering for Discover Nikkei?

I enjoy having access to interesting articles before they’re shared with the rest of the Nikkei community. While I’m editing, I’m learning and being motivated by so many writers’ stories. I believe that all it takes is one “Ah hah!” moment to change your life for the better. Perhaps my “Ah hah!” moment will come from one of the amazing stories I edit!

Read her stories >>

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Discover Nikkei

Discover Nikkei is a place to connect with others and share the Nikkei experience. To continue to sustain and grow this project, we need your help!

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A project of the Japanese American National Museum

Major support by The Nippon Foundation