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authors & contributors

Alex Wilensky

Born in Orange County and now living in LA, Alex is a policy director and community organizer. She loves cats, roller skating, and cooking with friends.

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Andie Kimura

Andie is a Japanese American, fourth generation Angelino who loves community, cookies, and television. She is constantly struggling to lower her carbon footprint and urges you to do the same (lower your carbon footprint, not the struggle part).

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Brooke Larsen

Born and raised in New Orleans, Brooke recently spent six years living in Osaka, Japan before relocating to Southern California. She spends her free time pining for okonomiyaki (Osaka-style, of course) and onsen. You can find her writing on CNBC Global Traveler, Culture Trip, GaijinPot, and in her secret diary.

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Craig Ishii

Origin story at Orange County Buddhist Church. Founder of Kizuna. Cultural enthusiast. Interested in exploring the ins and outs of our community so we can discover our past and pave our future.

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David Kenji Chang

David lives in New York and writes about design, art, and culture for magazines.

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Derek Hirano

Derek Hirano, owner and leader of the Hirano Homes Real Estate Team at Keller Williams Realty, is a fourth generation Japanese American, and third generation entrepreneur. Born and raised in the South Bay, he loves golfing, gaming, and backpacks.

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Dina Furumoto

A yonsei constantly trying to bridge their love of community, culture, history, and food together. On the ultimate quest to define what the perfect "Japanese-American" dessert is and an avid lover of carbs, bread, and anything comforting.

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Eric Komatsu

Just your average Laker-loving, ramen-eating, South Bay-based college student. Eric strives to celebrate tradition while exploring new possibilities.

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Hideki Fukusumi

With degrees in ethnic studies and counseling, much of Hideki's passion lies in bringing together community and providing a voice to the voiceless. When he's not fighting fascism, you can find him cooking yakitori or working on some music-related project.

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Hiro Edeza

Hiro Edeza studies history, Asian American studies, and museum studies at San Francisco State University. As he actively serves in JA non-profits, he hopes to continue his work in the historical preservation of under-represented communities after he receives his bachelor's degree.

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Kaelyn Maehara

Kaelyn Maehara is a filmmaker and ocean advocate originally from Los Angeles, California. You can now find her in Bristol, United Kingdom working on natural history documentaries and trying to diversify the environmental movement.

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Kerilyn Sato

Keri is a dog mama, semi-accomplished hula dancer, and three-time beer pong tournament champion who has never met a dog she didn't immediately love or a drink she wouldn’t finish.

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Kevin Onishi

Kevin Onishi was born and raised in San Jose, where he continues to be an active member in the Japanese American community. He currently works and lives in Los Angeles, where he is the Director of Programs for a nonprofit that advances the quality of life for older adults. In his free time, Kevin gets daily Victory Royals on solos in Fortnite.

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Mariko Rooks

Mariko (she/her) is a Fugetsudo lover and BA (c/o 2021) and MPH (c/o 2022) student at Yale University, which resides on Quinnipiac, Paugussett, and Wappinger land. She majors in the History of Science, Medicine, and Public Health & Ethnicity, Race, and Migration and interviews, writes, and conducts research with organizations including USA Water Polo, Changing Womxn Collective, JookSongs, and Discover Nikkei.

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Marisa Katsuda

Educator aspiring for middle school students to love math one day at a time. Interested in equitable education, technology, coffee, and TikTok dances.

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Megan Nagasaki

Has a soft spot for community and is fascinated by culture, connection, and authentic storytelling. Marketing professional and social media enthusiast based in Los Angeles.

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Michelle Hirano

Born and raised in Gardena, CA, Michelle has a passion for education, food, social deduction games, and dogs.

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Nate Gyotoku

Hilo built. Techy outdoorsman committed to leaving Hawaii better than I found it.

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Nicole Oshima

Recently graduated from UCLA with a major in Communications and minor in Asian American Studies, it goes without saying that Nicole is currently unemployed. After quarantine is over, however, she hopes to work in film or music and help create a more equitable and representative entertainment industry.

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Nicole Sato

Shin-Nisei born and raised in Torrance, trying to find the perfect medium of being Japanese and JA. Constantly on the quest for the best boba and french fries.

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Paul Matsushima

A family man, a community advocate, and an all around great guy.

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Philip Hirose

Born and raised Los Angeles. Dedicated to continuing a family legacy of community-based business, volunteerism, and activism.

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Stan Yogi

Stan Yogi is a co-chair of Okaeri. He is the co-author of the award-winning books Fred Korematsu Speaks Up (a biography for younger readers) and Wherever There’s a Fight: How Runaway Slaves, Suffragists, Immigrants, Strikers, and Poets Shaped Civil Liberties in California.

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Stephanie Nitahara

Chicago yonsei turned Los Angeles nonprofit executive with a passion for building the Nikkei community nationwide. Avid advocate for social justice and mental wellness to undo systems of oppression. Mother to a senior pomchi, sourdough starter, and the occasional succulent.

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Taylor Weik

An LA-based writer with essays and journalism in Teen Vogue, NBC Asian America, Catapult, and more, Taylor's work focuses on celebrating and exploring Asian American communities and identities.

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Timothy Chuman

Second-year Communication Studies major at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Former intern at the Rafu Shimpo, co-founder of Cal Poly’s Nikkei Student Union, and constantly seeking ways to further the Japanese American community. Avid okonomiyaki lover.

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