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Shimanchu Pen Pals March Sign-Ups are now open till February 26th! I will follow up via email with participation guidelines and the name/address of your match no later than February 28th.

Sign Up Here

I haven’t finalized the format but I think I’m sticking with February’s format unless there’s a lot of feedback against it.

Also, I know there were still a handful of February Pen Pals that didn’t get their letters yet, so hopefully they’ll get to you soon!

Building on from the important and hugely successful Hokkaidō 150: Settler Colonialism and Indigenei

Building on from the important and hugely successful Hokkaidō 150: Settler Colonialism and Indigeneity in Modern Japan and Beyond organized in March 2019, this series examines histories of colonialism and its impacts on Indigenous peoples. Shortly over a month after our Hokkaidō 150 event, the Japanese Diet on April 19, 2019 approved a bill to officially recognize the Ainu as Indigenous to Japan and to promote and protect Ainu culture. But, has anything changed since then? Uchinānchu/Okinawan people continue to face different types of challenges and struggles as they are not officially recognized as “Indigenous” or even as “a minority group.” While Ainu and Uchinānchu people are distinct groups, and “Indigeneity” is an identity embraced by some and not others, we are keen to continue exploring issues facing these people as we renew our mutual commitment to justice, truth, and reconciliation.

Participation is free, but registration is required (links below).

Where: Zoom (download the app here)

Tuesday, February 23, 5-6pm PST
An Introduction to Upopoy, a “Symbolic Space for Ethnic Harmony”
Dr. Kitahara Jirota mokottunas, Hokkaido University

Monday, March 15, 12-1pm PST
Ainu: 150 years of resilience
Dr. Kanako Uzawa, Independent scholar and performer

Monday, March 29, 5-6 pm PST
Re-thinking Okinawan Indigeneity: Articulation and Activism
Dr. Megumi Chibana, Kanagawa University

Post link“I take that back, I’ll talk about it t“I take that back, I’ll talk about it t“I take that back, I’ll talk about it t“I take that back, I’ll talk about it t“I take that back, I’ll talk about it t“I take that back, I’ll talk about it t

“I take that back, I’ll talk about it today, because this is abhorrent. While my family on my father’s side were forced into internment camps in Utah, my family on my mother’s side fought and died in World War II to prove they were American.

My pat. grandmother was a high schooler in San Francisco when Pearl Harbor happened. She was forced into deplorable conditions at Topaz Internment Camp in Utah. She faired all right, but witnessed an elderly man, hard of hearing, shot down by an MP for failing to hear an warning. When I spoke to her about it years after the fact, my grandmother said she no longer remembered the ID number she had been forced to go by at Topaz. She was proud of this.

Meanwhile, Tamotsu Miyata, my great-uncle, like many others of his generation, wanted to serve his country even though his country hated him. He served in the 298th Infantry Regiment and the 100th Infantry Battalion, fighting in the European theater where he was killed at age 25. My grandfather, Makoto, also wanted to serve his country, but because his elder brother was already fighting in Europe, when my grandfather enlisted in the army he was stationed in New Caledonia, away from battle. I’m told he built houses.

After the war ended, my grandfather returned home and married my grandmother in 1946. But his experiences as a teenager in Hawaiʻi at the time of Pearl Harbor, and his time serving in the army as ‘the enemy’ irrevocably changed his attitude towards his own ethnicity & culture. My grandfather refused to teach my mother and uncle how to use chopsticks, because they needed to use forks 'like good Americans.’ He also went by 'Mac’, not 'Makoto’ upon returning home from the war. Other things, though, grandpa still loved.

Growing up yonsei, I am very indicative of my generation: my 'Japaneseness’ as a concept is tied to symbols, like obon and Girl’s Day. I speak the language, but only because I learned it in college. Living in Japan as 4th generation nikkei, I felt STRONGLY the disconnect.. between actual Japanese nationals and myself as Japanese diaspora. Nikkei will never be Japanese enough for Japan, but like all minorities in America, never really American enough for America. Internment and martial law in Hawaiʻi made that clear. #NeverAgain”

Post link


To everyone

Hello guys, I really need your help and this is so important issue. Please read this post and help our Fight for Human Rights and Correcting History.

I’m writing this post to let the world know about the misbehave of one university professor, especially his forthcoming publication and continuous avoiding about his wrong behaviour. J. Mark Ramseyer, a Harvard Law School Japanese legal studies professor, wrote publication titled <Contracting for sex in the Pacific War> . In this article, he insisted that the ‘comfort women’ volunteered for prostitution and things happened in there were legal, under Japanese government. However, all of these are NOT TRUE.

First, word ‘comfort women’ means victims of sexual crimes in the Japanese military. During WWII, Japanese Empire government kidnapped women. Most of them were girl, aged 11~ 27, were forced to come or tricked into making money. Not only In Korea, women in China, The Philippines, Vietnam, The Netherlands and more were forced to be sexual slavery there. Japanese military took them to place called 'Military Comfort Stations’, in there, they had to be sexually assaulted to more then 30 soldiers in a day. Moreover, they couldn’t come home freely, most of them were killed by Japanese military or dead by bombings.

However, this regrettable past is being distorted and unresolved. Japan is denying their past sin, while victims are passing away in misery. All they wanted was apology and recognition of sexual slavery of Japanese military, but none of this were have solved.According to fact about 'comfort women’, Ramseyer’s publication is not true. His wrong article only makes history distorted and disregard of past sin. If his forthcoming publication is read by people, we can’t do the right thing for them and next generation’s humanright.

This is article about Ramseyer’s publication

Please reblog or like this post to help me, it is also okay to capture this post or copy and post in other sns. Plus, tag #remember comfort women, #stand with survivors and# no distorted history. Thank you so much.

+++ I mentioned some tumblrs, please help us with this issue. I’m really sorry for bothering with mention alert. Thank you soso much!






Saw this on Jewbook:

It did not specify, but I am assuming Jewish means Ashkenazi, from the photos, his father, and a Japanese mother. Not that I’m sure if it matters, thought I’d describe anyways.

To be clear I’d like people to reblog this

be the match is awesome!!! i registered and did my cheek swab in april! it’s free to do and sign up!

all u need to do is input an address where u can receive mail when u sign up! be the match then sends u an envelope with the cotton swab, instructions on how to properly take the sample, and a prepaid envelope with all the info printed on it to mail it back to them! i believe they also gave me a small plastic bag to put the swab it to protect ur sample.

it’s so easy, and you can save somebody’s life!! u definitely should sign up if u are able to!!!

@wearejapanese just in case you guys haven’t seen this and can help


This is about Ainu families fighting to reclaim their ancestors, grave robbed, desecrated, violated, and dehumanized as specimens by the institutionally racist Universities actively participating in the genocide of our people. 

It’s extremely disturbing and upsetting, and very important.

The Japanese government and it’s institutions weren’t satisfied with taking our lives, culture, and livelihoods, they won’t leave us alone, even in death. A concentration camp of corpses. It’s one of the darkest chapters of the violent occupation of Ainu Moshiri by the Japanese government, and it continues even today in the year 2020.

What would you do if your family was taken from their graves, or your house was ransacked for the urns of your loved ones? I ask you to think about this for a moment, and really imagine what it would be like to live through that.

Unfortunately, I know many of our Indigenous cousins don’t have to imagine this nightmare.

One day our ancestors will come home, one way or another. Shame on the University of Hokkaido, and shame on Japan. It’s hard to save face when you have two of them.


Why are the Ryukyuan Languages Endangered?

All of the native languages of the Ryukyu Islands (Uchinaaguchi, Myaakufutsu, Yanbaru Kutuuba, Shimayumuta, Yaimamuni, and Dunan-Munai) are UNESCO listed endangered languages. This means that the languages are not getting passed down from generation to generation, and are at a high risk of being lost completely without efforts to revitalize them. How did they get to this point?

The beginning of the decline of Shimakutuba (Ryukyuan languages) can be traced to 1879, which is when the Ryukyu Kingdom was forcibly annexed, i.e. colonized, by Japan. Upon this act, the Japanese government swiftly enacted assimilationist policies to integrate Ryukyuans into the Japanese nation-state. This involved banning Ryukyuan languages in all public spheres and, educating them only in the Japanese language. To Ryukyuans, Japanese was a foreign language, and if they spoke Shimakutuba in schools, they were punished for doing so. This punishment for speaking Shimakutuba often involved having to wear something called a “Hougen Fuda” (Dialect Tag) around their necks. Calling the Ryukyuan languages “hougen” (dialect) was a psychological tactic, still used even today, to erase and deny the existence of the languages. Even Shimanchu today refer to their native languages as “hougen”, unaware of how harmful and incorrect this term is. I asked several Japanese people and foreigners living in Japan if they knew Okinawa had its own languages- not a single person did.

Going back to the hougen fuda, typically, the unfortunate student who was given this punishment had to keep wearing it until another student was caught speaking Shimakutuba. Sometimes, kids would stomp on another kid’s foot to get them to say “Agaa!” which means “Ow!” in Uchinaaguchi in order to pass off the hougen fuda. As you could imagine, this experience was quite traumatic, and it caused Ryukyuans to associate their native languages with pain and punishment. 

In addition, in public buildings (City Hall, etc), Ryukyuans sometimes wouldn’t get served if they spoke in Shimakutuba. They had to speak Japanese to get things done.

These experiences, as bad as they were, don’t even compare to what Ryukyuans went through in the Battle of Okinawa. The Battle of Okinawa was one of the deadliest battles to have taken place during WWII. Nearly one out of every three Ryukyuans died in it. Most of those who died were civilians, or forcibly conscripted into the Japanese army. Japan intentionally built up their troops in Okinawa as a way to delay the US Army from entering “mainland” Japan. Okinawans were dispensable in the eyes of the Japanese state. Some Okinawans were pushed in front of Japanese soldiers to be used as human shields. Okinawans who spoke in Shimakutuba were sometimes suspected to be spies, and then shot.

With all of this trauma from speaking Shimakutuba, it is understandable why many Shimanchu decided not to pass it down to their children. They began developing an inferiority complex towards their own native language, as the Japanese language became more prestigious and economically advantageous. Shimakutuba is generally not taught in schools, and there isn’t much funding available for it. However, this is not to say there isn’t interest in it. In surveys, many Shimanchu youth state that they wish they could speak Shimakutuba in order to understand their grandparents. Without Shimakutuba, this intergenerational connection is getting broken, and young Shimanchu are unable to understand many things in their culture, such as sanshin music, Ryukyuan literature, poetry, historical records, etc. Without the language, we lose an essential component of our culture. The Ryukyuan identity is at stake.

This is why I am learning Uchinaaguchi. This is a language that should have been passed down to me if only my people were allowed to speak it. The more Uchinaaguchi I learn, the more I understand my culture. My grandparents have already passed on, but if I can speak Uchinaaguchi, I could know the sounds that came out of their mouths, and learn their Indigenous way of thinking through the language. I could feel more connected to them, and all of my ancestors.

I am fortunate to have learned why my heritage language is endangered, and to have the ability (time/money) to pursue learning it. However, most young Ryukyuans are unaware of this history, as it isn’t taught much in mainstream Japanese education. I’m not sure exactly how to reverse the cause of the decline in Shimakutuba, but I will do my best to learn it and help other Shimanchu who want to learn it. ちばらやー!

Anderson, M., & Heinrich, P. (Eds.). (2014). Language crisis in the Ryukyus. Cambridge Scholars Publishing.


umi x nylon japan


I absolutely adore bingata, so much so that I felt inspired to write a poem about it even though I hardly ever write poetry. Here it is:

Bright Red, sweet Pink, serene Green, umi Blue, and tiidaYellow,
A symphony of colors on this Bingata fabric.
Each color is bold, yet no color overshadows another.
Blues gently fades into green, red into pink.
A splendor of color, a feast for the eyes.
Purple on red, red on yellow, blue on green.
Somehow it works, even if you wouldn’t think it.
A multitude of colors in harmony.

The colors are the colors of Ryukyu,
The shapes, abstractions of Ryukyuan flora and fauna.
Even though I am far away from Ryukyu,
Bingata brings Ryukyu to me.
The colors dyed into the fabric,
are also dyed into my heart,

When I lie in bed, and close my eyes,
the colors emerge from the darkness,
vividly, as if I were awake.
I see the colors seeping into each other,
the shapes dancing joyfully.
When I dream in Bingata,
my soul is content.



This nmee (grandma) has become quite the celebrity in Okinawa thanks to her nmaga (grandson) filming her. There is something so endearing about her, and I can’t help but smile.

In this video, her nmaga gives her a MacBook Air as a present, but looking at the picture on the packaging she thinks it’s chopsticks at first.

She is truly Okinawa’s treasure (Uchinaa nu takara).


February signs-ups are now open! 

Please fill out the Google Forms here

Sign-ups for February will close on January 29th and I will follow up via email with participation guidelines and the name/address of your match no later than January 31st.

Please feel free to invite your friends and family to participate! Also if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at

動かしつづける。自分を。未来を。The Future Isn’t Waiting | Nike



English translation below the cut

Honestly, I cried when I saw this. I thought, “I wish this kind of message existed when I was a kid!” To all the multi-racial Japanese as well as the Zainichi Korean and Chinese people out there, there’s something we’d like to say. You are fine just the way you are.

As Nikkei people, we’ve had generations of experience with discrimination and bullying, but many of us are still doing our best as Japanese people, in whatever form that is. We won’t say something as naive as “It’ll be ok” or “People will accept you one day”, but if you ever want to talk to people who have a pretty good grasp on your experience, feel free to reach out to us any time.




Hey there, I’m working on a fantasy story where one of the girls who forms the starting cast is a Japanese-Canadian girl, and she’s a third-generation Canadian. I know it’s more common for second and third-generation immigrants to have Western first names, but I’d love to use the name Tomoko Sato for her as the meaning really suits. In terms of justification, her primary caretaker is her grandmother, who is a fashion designer that built a business off a fashion house that incorporates traditional Japanese fashion elements into their designs. I think it would make a lot of sense for her to push back against the pressure to assimilate.

As well, I’m worried about her falling into the Smart Asian trope, as she isn’t particularly great at school (her ADHD makes classroom learning hard), but she likes accruing knowledge and has a super broad knowledge base from cycling through hyper-fixations. She’s excellent at thinking at her feet and has a few moments throughout the story where she invents unique solutions or puts together things before the rest of the cast. She and her Nigerian-Canadian friend and love interest work together on a journal of their experiences throughout as well, with her providing the writing and him doing illustrations, though that plot line can easily be scrapped if the urge on her part to observe and document seems unnatural or forced. 

Lastly, she regularly colours her hair a platinum blonde colour. It doesn’t have a huge significance behind it besides her liking the aesthetic and enjoying it as a form of self-expression. Do you think it runs the risk of encroaching on the “Asian girl with coloured hair” trope? Thanks in advance!

WWC Commentary on Asians with Hair Streaks 

~ Mod Rina

The protagonist’s name is a little generic and old-fashioned (Think Jane Smith). There is nothing wrong with her name, but it might be nice to think about why she has the name that she does. I know my share of Nikkei acquaintances who are named for older relatives and thus have names that are more common in previous eras. 

I wouldn’t worry too much about the Smart Asian trope. You have concisely stated many characteristics of people with ADHD who manage to succeed in academic settings despite their limitations simply because coping skills and hyperfixation make up the difference (Also known as How Marika Got a 5 in AP US History Without Studying). Remember: tropes and stereotypes are tools. They aren’t meant to be avoided part and parcel, but rather used in moderation when they can result in more compelling narratives.

- Marika

I would also add, I don’t think you need to feel like you need to justify your character’s Japanese name @theoldgodsarealiveandbitching! I’m a second generation Japanese American, and my full name is extremely Japanese, and I don’t have a middle name either. I fully plan on naming my children if I ever have any with Japanese names as well — not because I’m pushing back against assimilation, or any other reason like that. Simply, my language and my culture are really important important part of me, and I want to pass that onto my future family. As far as I’m aware, my parents didn’t even consider giving me an English name because assimilation just never occurred to them despite immigrating to America.
I have several people in my community who have Western names, middle names, names that can be both Western and Japanese, people who have two names… So your mileage will definitely vary but it is definitely realistic for a third generation immigrant to have a Japanese name simply because their parents wanted to give them one.

Why we think naming matters

We brought up the issue of justification simply because the first name itself is rather old-fashioned. Like any other culture, Japanese names have trends, and while, say, Bertha is a perfectly fine name, it is not as common today as it may have been in previous decades. Thus, it seems logical for there to be a reason as to why the character has the name they do.

We also think it’s important to remember that there is a difference between how we, Shin-Nikkei, view our relationship with Japanese identity and culture versus more established Nikkei Americans and Canadians (Sansei and upward) have as the result of the historic trauma of internment and subsequent pressures to assimilate or, conversely, tendencies towards increased conservatism and Japanese nationalism, increased sensitivity to cultural appropriation, etc.

For many pre-war Nikkei families, giving a child a Japanese name is a conscious choice, and has the consequence of making the child stand out in comparison to their white counterparts. Shin-Issei parents are more likely unconcerned with extreme forms of discrimination, though there are exceptions (immigrants from the Toyota years in the 80s were particularly sensitive to hate crimes).

Both Rina and I have distinctly Japanese names (that is, Japanese names that work for both of our respective cultures) because our Japanese mothers, being more recent immigrants, thought “Yeah, what’s the harm?” We expect this would be doubly so for a child with parents who were both recent immigrants from Japan.

However, in more established Nikkei communities, the optics are often different. For example, in LA, lots of Nikkei folks camouflage Japanese identity by using the child’s Japanese name as their middle name. Names that “sound” Western are also pretty popular (E.g. Naomi because most people assume it’s Jewish; or Ken, which can be used as a nickname for a variety of Japanese names, but is assumed by most white people to mean Kenneth). This also applies to Nikkei children who are multiracial where name-blending may be less about intentional culture-blending as our names are. Thus, for a Sansei Japanese- Canadian, we think it is more likely for there to be a distinct reason her to have the name she does.

- Marika and Rina