Culture & Community

A Sho-Time Capsule: Stories about the Dodgers, Street Art & The Japanese Renaissance

Every time I go down to Little Tokyo I can't help but smile at the larger-than-life portrait towering over the Yagura. Shohei has become a fixture of the street. Kevin asks community members for their reactions to the new Shohei Ohtani mural.

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Between Queens: Reflections on Court Experiences from LA to SF to HI

Reflections from this past year's three festival queens in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Honolulu!

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Love in a Grocery Store Aisle

I know that for many, Little Tokyo is more than just a tourist spot. It’s a safe space for Japanese people to gather and participate in community activities and building. If a Japantown is supposed to be a safe space for Japanese people, then Japanese markets are my Japantown.

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Okaeri 2023: A Beautiful and Transformative Conference

I was honored to be part of such a large gathering of queer and trans Nikkei. My feelings of shame were replaced with pride, as I heard Japanese Americans of different sexualities, genders, and generations share their stories.

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Nikkei Community Activities Directory

Looking for activities to do in Nikkei Communities? Check out our directory now!

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Dear Tatami

My love letter to the best flooring in the world. But it's also so much more.

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A visit to the archives (Learning from our AAPI Leaders)

Are you feeling reflective and wistful now that Autumn is here? Archiving your memories can empower you and your community.

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Three Reasons Why Queer Obon Just ~Makes Sense~

This past June, Okaeri LA hosted the first ever Queer Obon (we think), or a festival designed to bring LGBTQ+ people together in community for this important Buddhist holiday.

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A Lump of Play-Doh: Growing Up Mixed

If I really think about it I know there were many people who thought that my mix of backgrounds was cool throughout my childhood; however, I can’t help but focus on those in my life that made me feel like I didn’t belong.

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Hosting Day of Remembrance as a Shin-Nisei

I'm Shin-Nisei but I put on several Day of Remembrances. If you're in my shoes, my advice? Go for it.

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Being JA in Japan

A personal, genuine reflection of my experience living in Japan and working as an English Teacher through the JET program.

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Portrait of a Japanese American (for now)

These questions about identity, about the future, torment me. From the divide of being Japanese or American came the term “Japanese American,” but what happens when we outgrow that?

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Ireichō

To me personally, the importance of stamping the Ireichō has more to do with honoring my family and community.

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The Size of your Culture Night Doesn’t Matter - Just These Two Things

Move beyond the comparison game and discover the true purpose of Culture Nights. Learn how building community and educating audiences are the key ingredients to success.

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World Travel is the Most Worthwhile Activity a Human Being Can Do

You should travel as far and as wide as possible. It's the only way to taste the fullness of life.

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Visiting My Grandpa's Hometown in Hawaii

This trip was more than just another vacation to Hawaii, it was my family’s chance to walk through my grandpa’s memory lane alongside him.

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Home Sweet Japan

Japan's been a second home for me, a place of comfort and familiarity. But I know this won't last.

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We Love Love (and Valentine's Day)

Despite the mixed reputation of Valentine's Day, I'm here to offer a few reasons to help advocate for my personal favorite holiday. We really do love love, so why not love Valentine's Day too? :)

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Remember, Reflect, Renew: 5 Reasons to Attend a Day of Remembrance Program

What are you doing this February 19th? The Day of Remembrance is an important time for us as community members to reflect on our unique history and make connections to our endeavors in the present.

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Community-Building Comes First | An Interview with KC Mukai

Learn the story of how the JACL launched a youth-focused district board and the passionate leader who made it happen. An interview with KC Mukai of the JACL NCWNP District Youth Board.

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What Sounds Like Home: On Creating Black and Asian American Identity Through Music

As Asian Americans, we too can lose sight of music as a border-defying site of home-making. Too often, Asian American artists and musicians are embroiled in Black cultural appropriation just to shed these ornamentations later in favor of another aesthetic. So how do we make a better home for each other in our music?

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Capturing Our History - Zentoku

The Zentoku Foundation's mission is to be valued as an organization focused on strengthening the Japanese American culture for future generations.

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Our Roots Run Deep: Cultivating Grassroot Movements Across Generations

When we think about grassroots organizing, an essential guiding principle for this type of movement work is to focus on the roots. And when we touch the roots, I believe we are able to create something that is both natural and viral: a people’s movement. 

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What Would You Be Listening To If You Lived In Japan?

Find out what your doppelganger in Japan listening to with this short quiz!

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Big Dreams in Little Tokyo

Chazz Hannah reflects on his music journey and how his upbringing has influenced his style.

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5 Things I Learned at Yo! Camp (as an Adult)

When you think of an overnight summer camp, you think of all the benefits it will have for the campers. But instructors and staff like myself learned a lot, too.

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626 Assembly Center

My grandmother and her family stood on the same ground as Asian Americans do today while attending 626 Night Market—albeit under extremely different circumstances—but it bothers me to know that her history is being forgotten or ignored.

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Yo! Camp: Make Magic, Every Day

Our inaugural year of Yo! Camp was something magical. Let's explore where that magic comes from.

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My JA Community: A SoCal Transplant in NorCal's Summer

I moved to San Jose three years ago; this is my story of experiencing community in both NorCal and SoCal.

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Obon Will Always Be Obon

Obon, like many Japanese American cultural practices, exists in the intersections of race and religion. Although Obon is a more widely accepted cultural-religious practice, this was not always the case.

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Summer Camp - Parents, Your Questions Answered

When it comes to summer camps and programs, parents and kids often underestimate the importance and value of these opportunities. Let's explore the deep value of the summer camp experience.

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Japanese Fashion Through the Years (Infographic)

The full infographic to accompany the "Japanese Fashion Through the Years" article.

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Did Tom Cruise Teach Us How to Be “Japanese?”

There are three movies/TV shows I watch annually: The Last Samurai, Lost In Translation, and Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown (specifically season 8, episode 6 entitled “Japan with Masa”).

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Casual with a Purpose: My Experiences with Fashion in Japan

The color palettes, articles of clothing, and silhouettes that I've tried out here are trends that I would never have been willing to try out in America.

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Japanese Fashion Through the Years

There’s a lot more to Japanese fashion than you can imagine. Let’s take a look at some major points of fashion in Japan.

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Just Another Wednesday

What could gentrification taste like? How might erasure alter sight and sound? This story was originally written for the 2021 Little Tokyo Historical Society's annual short story contest.

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Creating Kokekreations: the Japanese Art of Moss Balls

Learn the story of a shared passion to spread a love for kokedama with the community, rooted in friendship, and belief in the importance of cultural appreciation.

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Grief That’s Worth Its Weight in Gold

I started my pre-loved fine gold jewelry business, Teruko Jewelry, on a whim—I knew nothing about solid gold, the value of gold jewelry or even how I would mail out orders. But when the scariest thing in the world has happened to you, things that might have seemed daunting feel manageable.

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3 to 1: Cultural Arts

How do generational differences affect opinions of cultural arts and their importance? You want to know, and so do we.

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Dear Ji-Chan

Thank you Ji-chan for teaching me and exposing me to Japanese art forms. Your efforts to teach me about my Japanese culture have not gone unnoticed.

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The Evolution of Collegiate Taiko

Collegiate taiko has had a prolific expansion over the last couple of decades. Let's explore how it's grown and where it still needs to go.

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This is the Way

It’s not the destination, it’s the journey. And if you guys can understand that, then what you’ll see happen is that you won’t accomplish your dreams, your dreams won’t come true; something greater will.

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Cultural Fusion: A Mother & Son Explore New Paths Through the Art of Taiko

It is our hope that the taiko community never loses sight of its roots as it works toward an inclusive and collaborative future that celebrates individual uniqueness and cultural diversity.

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Going Bananas During Quaran-bean: My 6-Day Enforced Quarantine in Japan

With the sudden surge of covid over winter break, Japan has completely shut down their borders to foreigners, and made it very difficult for Japan passport holders to enter Japan. Here's my story.

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Hello, from the Middle

A little reflection on the beginning of middle age and self love

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Nuances of the Chinese Zodiac

While most have a basic familiarity with the animals of the Lunar New Year, there are a number of nuances and stories associated with the zodiac that many don't know. Let's jump right in!

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Fierce Vulnerability with Gia Gunn

Gia Gunn chats about her journey from dancing Nihon-buyo as a child to RuPaul's Drag Race to self discovery and activism.

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Have You Been to a Traditional Mochitsuki?

Traditional mochitsuki is a long-time tradition of the Yasukochi Family. Here's a family members perspective of the annual event.

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8 Things You Remember If You Had AZN Pride

If you grew up in the early 00s, you know some, if not all, of these these that were uniquely Millennial AZN.

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The Non-Definitive List of How to Avoid Faux Pas at Asian American Functions

With the holidays coming up, there will be plenty of potlucks, parties, dinners, etc. that many will be attending, so here's a non-definitive list of how to avoid faux pas at Asian American gatherings.

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Meet Lindsay Arakawa | @blindsaay

Join me as I dive into an interview with Lindsay Arakawa, a yonsei/gosei creator born in Hawaii, living in Tokyo, Japan, doing some amazing work.

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Giving Voice to Asian American Seniors Through Film

I couldn't imagine retirement offering much more to my life, but a digital histories film class has proven to be a challenging, intellectually stimulating, and emotionally rewarding experience for me.

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For You/Me/Us Page: Identity Building Through TikTok

How is the Nikkei community represented on TikTok, and how will digital identity- and community-building affect our current generation?

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How Should Japanese American Parents Talk to Their Kids About Race and Racism?

Explore some of the conversations Japanese Americans have had with their kids about racism, what they wish they'd talked about earlier, and how the dialogue may have evolved over time.

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Has Marie Kondo Gone Too Far?

For the past decade, Marie Kondo has built a base of followers, guided by her principles in decluttering and streamlined material possession. But has capitalism steered her away from her original purpose?

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Delivering Community Care One Meal at a Time: Little Tokyo Eats

Worried about some of our more vulnerable community members, many non-profit groups came together to help deliver delicious foods to local Little Tokyo seniors. This project, Little Tokyo Eats, benefited not only the seniors, but also the family and legacy-owned small businesses in Little Tokyo. After more than a year later, the program is ending.

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Old Good Things

What are we going to do with all this old stuff?

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Quiet Support or Loud Disapproval: Thoughts on the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games

The 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games has been riddled with controversy since the start of the global pandemic, and yet in the eyes of a number of governing bodies, the show must go on. So now what?

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Speak Your Truth

Being Japanese American, I grew up with the expectations of not being a “burden” to other people, and living in the pandemic has sometimes felt like treading in deep waters without rest. 

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So What's The Deal With Japanese Americans & Fishing?

Fishing has always been popular in the Japanese American community and understanding our community's history, it makes sense.

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My Journey to Minidoka

Park Ranger Kurt Ikeda shares his love of national parks and the legacy he carries on at Minidoka as a Japanese American.

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Doing a Good Turn Daily: Japanese American Boy Scouts

Exploring the lasting legacy of youth development in the Boy Scout programs of the Japanese American community.

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Unwinding our Values: to Gaman and Grind

Is our nonprofit value of "suffer for the cause" really healthy for us at the end of the day?

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Changing the Tides on Mental Health

Learn more about the Changing Tides (CT) Crew, which consists of 6-8 AAPI young adults who strive to destigmatize mental health and create safe and accessible spaces for the community.

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Japanese Wellness Words That Will Make You Feel Good

The Japanese language includes numerous and varied wellness concepts, many of which no word in English can adequately convey.

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Japanese American Basketball - The Community Behind the Game

Where did JA ball come from? More importantly, where is it going?

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Escaping Camp Through Sports

Japanese Americans suffered greatly during WWII, but sports was one outlet that they relied on to escape their circumstances.

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Want to Understand the History of Anti-Asian Racism? Read These Books

The Atlanta area shootings come after a recent wave of anti-Asian attacks attributed to the pandemic, but violence against Asians and Asian Americans dates back centuries. We've curated a reading list to provide historical context.

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Anzen Hardware Celebrates its 75th Anniversary

This year will mark the 75th Anniversary of my grandparents' hardware store, and I don’t know what its future holds. 

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Revolutionary BTS

What might be even more revolutionary than seeing AAPI masculinity on screen is the idea that Asian men—like k-pop boyband BTS—can subvert gendered concepts of beauty and desire altogether.

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Nikkei Diaspora: Oshogatsu

Starting the new year with friends and family... around the world.

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New Years Traditions

Counting down to midnight is a worldwide tradition of New Years Eve. We asked our friends what else they do to ring in the new year, every year.

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Kentakki Fried Christmas

Kentucky Fried Chicken for Christmas. This is a thing in Japan.

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Hearing (And Sharing) Our Grandparents' Stories

Deep down, we know it's important to make an effort to hear our grandparents' stories, but starting those conversations can sometimes be challenging. Here's another reminder that it's definitely worth trying.

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The Language Barriers and Links in a MultiLingual Family

Growing up with multiple languages and cultures can mean barriers between family. But, there is beauty in finding common ground where there are gaps.

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Learn About Kinrōkanshahi 勤労感謝の日, or Labor Thanksgiving Day

Since 678, Japan celebrates a holiday around this time of the year by giving thanks to laborers and the fall harvest.

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Haunted Japantowns

The historic Japantowns have served our community for over 100 years, but there are many untold stories that reveal a spooky side of these neighborhoods.

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A Very Brief History of Halloween in Japan

Halloween in Japan is rather new. Like many western influences that jumped the Pacific, the Japanese are slowly making it their own.

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My Japanese Superstitions

Americans have likely heard the "don't step on a crack or you'll break your mother's back" superstition. But other countries have their own silly phrases, including Japan.

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Hidden Ecologists: The Rise and Fall of Sustainable Agriculture in Japanese American Farming

Land and micromanagement and precision agriculture techniques are perceived as innovations by environmentalists in the late 20th century. Actually, Japanese American farmers implemented these techniques in the 1900s with remarkable success...until racism intervened. 

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Mottainai: Culturally Embedded Sustainability

More than just a word, mottainai holds deep cultural and historical meaning. Let's explore how this word can be a critical rallying call for this generation.

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For the People! Sustainability and Face Masks

One person's journey toward utilizing their passion for sustainability and activism through making face masks.

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Caring for Our Island Earth

We are all islanders. Let's learn about the habitual adjustments that are small for us, but make a big impact on the environmental sustainability for this island we call Earth.

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Pruning the Bonsai: How the History of Japanese American Gardeners Lives on Through Their Descendants

Though gardening was a common profession for Japanese American immigrants pre and post-war, their era is now over. How do their descendants perceive and preserve their family's history today?

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Bonsai Tree Roundup

Pandemic babies, pandemic dogs...how about a pandemic bonsai? Take a look through our Bonsai roundup.

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Chasing the Japanese Whaling Fleet as a Japanese American

My experience chasing the Japanese whaling fleet as a Japanese American ocean activist led me to realize that we can't approach conservation issues without also considering the historical, racial, and geopolitical context that comes along with them.

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Japanese Gardens in the States and Around the World

Whether it be a space for cultural exchange or to find a moment of peace, Japanese gardens (and elements of it) can be enjoyed around the world.

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Card Games and Board Games Played in Camp

In an effort to provide a fun way to connect with family and even get a different glimpse of camp, we've gathered a list of common card games and board games played in Japanese American concentration camps.

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Japanese Cultural References You May Not Have Noticed in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

There are a lot of Japanese cultural Easter eggs in Animal Crossing — some obvious, some well-hidden — that are worth digging into.

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Finding Escape in Cards

Life in the Japanese American concentration camps was far from ideal, but as bad as the circumstances were, Japanese Americans tried to make the best of their situations. Having outlets like sports, dances, and especially card games helped children do exactly that.

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Infographic - Are the Kids (Going to Be) Alright?

Automated employment is looming, human education is in danger. This infographic explores how we can develop critical "human" competencies for the future success of our kids.

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5 Books by Asian/Asian American Authors to Read This Fall

Just because you’re not in school doesn’t mean you can’t learn new things! We’re turning to several books that were published this year by Asian American authors.

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Are the Kids (Going to Be) Alright?

Employment, socializing, and life itself is evolving at an exponential rate... education is not. What do our kids need to truly be prepared for this rapidly changing reality?

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Get Your Dance On – Olympic Style

Learn the background of the popular Olympic odori dance, Tokyo Gorin Ondo!

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Creating a Sense of Community in Idaho

When you don't fit in with the majority's culture, it is difficult to find your voice. Learn how one person is rooting themselves back to Idaho and creating a sense of community.

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Kotonks & Buddhaheads: How Japanese American Experiences Differ on the Mainland and in Hawai'i

As a Japanese American who grew up with family ties in Hawai'i but came of age in California, I've encountered some cultural differences based on experiences and history. Here, I attempt to unearth some of that history.

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Diaspora: An Infographic

Where exactly is the Japanese diaspora? Check out our visual depiction of where the Nikkei community has settled around the world.

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A Space for Ourselves: Thoughts from a Black Yonsei

What is it to be a Black Japanese American? What should I tell you? What should you know? 

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