by Yuko Kodama
Beth Takekawa came home one day to a newsletter from her grandmother’s church on her dining table. The priest had written about “this little immigrant lady” in his congregation, and Takekawa read on, wondering who this new person was. She got a jolt when she realized he was writing about her grandmother. To Takekawa, her grandmother was a giant in her household. She says this was the first time she realized how important perspective is in conveying a story.
Beth Takekawa, the executive director of the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, is retiring after nearly 25 years of leadership at this 54-year-old cultural pillar in Seattle’s Chinatown International District (CID). Wartime took the Takekawa family to the Minidoka internment camp in Idaho during WWII. Post-war, the family moved to Minnesota with the help of a Japanese American relocation committee. Minnesota was where Beth grew up, but she gravitated to Seattle, where her family has roots just a few blocks away from the museum.
Continue reading Executive Director Beth Takekawa Retires From Wing Luke Museum
by Mark Van Streefkerk
The upcoming graphic novel We Hereby Refuse: Japanese American Resistance to Wartime Incarceration offers a new take on the history of World War II — one told through the resistance of three people. Revolving around the experiences of Jim Akutsu, Hiroshi Kashiwagi, and Mitsuye Endo, We Hereby Refuse weaves their acts of refusal into one overarching plot. A result of a collaboration between co-authors Frank Abe and Tamiko Nimura, illustrated by artists Ross Ishikawa and Matt Sasaki, the 160-page graphic novel is co-published by the Wing Luke Museum and Chin Music Press. The book is slated for release on May 18.
In telling Akutsu, Kashiwagi, and Endo’s stories, “We decided not to do it as three different chapters but as one timeline, one story arc that would interweave these three characters. The focus is not ‘These are three heroes of camp resistance.’ No. There’s an overarching narrative of the incarceration experience,” said Abe. “We call it the ‘story of camp as you’ve never seen it before.’”
Continue reading New Graphic Novel Tells Three Stories of Nikkei Resistance to Wartime Incarceration
by Sharon Maeda
“Daydreaming isn’t allowed in the fast lane. So Bob Shimabukuro has mostly lived life on side streets, taking a detour now and again to help other people along the way.”
That’s how former Seattle Times columnist Jerry Large captured the essence of Bob in 1994. To that I would add: Renaissance Man. In addition to being a writer and a consummate family man, Bob was also an artist, chef, community activist/leader, feminist, furniture designer/woodworker, Hawai‘i-style philosopher, and so much more.
Continue reading Bob Shimabukuro: Side Street Renaissance Man (August 4, 1945-March 29, 2021)
by Kamna Shastri
When Satsuki Ina’s mother received her reparations check from the US government in apology for incarcerating over 120,000 Japanese Americans between 1942 and 1945, the check ended up somewhere in a stack of papers piled high on her desk. Instead, a framed apology letter leaning against the wall caught Ina’s eye.
“What does this mean for you?” Ina asked her mother.
“I feel like I finally got my face back,” her mother replied.
Continue reading Japanese American Redress and African American Reparations Intertwined
by Susan Kunimatsu
(This article previously appeared on the International Examiner and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
Like most of us, Roger Shimomura has spent the last 10 months in isolation; in his case, his home and studio in Lawrence, Kansas. For Shimomura, the pandemic has been an intellectually fertile, artistically prolific period. The result, 100 ”Little White Lies” is now on view at Greg Kucera Gallery. The 100 untitled paintings, each a 12 by 12-inch square, are numbered in the order in which they were created starting in late 2019. Hung in a single row that wraps around two galleries, they do not form a narrative. They are a stream of consciousness, a visual record of the ideas that occupied the artist during this strange year.
Continue reading Artist Roger Shimomura’s 100 ‘Little White Lies’
by Stanley N Shikuma
Executive orders have been in the news a lot lately. Did you know there have been over 15,000 executive orders signed by 46 presidents in the history of the United States? More than 3,700 were signed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) alone. Yet how many of those executive orders do you remember by number?
The only one I can think of is Executive Order (EO) 9066.
Continue reading Day of Remembrance 2021: Another Time, Another Place
by Anne Liu Kellor
Who cares about gardens and landscape design right now, in a time of widespread grief and despair?
Let me reframe that question.
Who cares about a story of resilience, racism, community, cross-cultural connection, place, and poetry?
Continue reading Book Review: Spirited Stone, Lessons from Kubota’s Garden
by Carolyn Bick
Under the warm, yellow lights of Kobo in the Chinatown-International District’s Japantown, Mako Willet readied her sanshin, an Okinawan instrument similar to a lute, to play another song, supposed to warn fishermen about stepping on sharp conch shells.
Continue reading PHOTOS: The Celebratory and Somber Performances of Hai! Japantown