Navigating our Hxstories: Celebrating Japanese American Makers & Storytellers
*video by Saúl López
Last month, I was lucky enough to be part of a panel and marketplace called “Navigating Our Hxistories: An Evening of Multi-Disiplinary Storytelling” in San Francisco’s Presidio.
So many of us know what it’s like to desperately want to fit in. Whether it’s through the lunch we bring to school, or the reverberations still felt today from the forced assimilation experienced by our parents and grandparents.
Until recently, there haven’t been many platforms or opportunities for Japanese Americans to both honor and truly celebrate our legacy. That’s why I was so excited when Then They Came for Me, an exhibit showcasing photographs from the WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans, asked if I’d be interested in hosting an event.
Little did they know, my dear friend Diana Emiko Tsuchida of Tessaku, and I had been dreaming of hosting an evening of storytelling, followed by a marketplace celebrating Japanese American makers. We wanted to create a space for people just like us, where for one of the first times, we could celebrate together and start to establish a sense of pride for who we are and how far we’ve come, thanks to the tireless work of all who came before us. Just like it’s important for our brains to have positive experiences around an area of trauma to heal, I believe it’s also important for an entire community to do the same.
I’m so grateful and humbled by everyone who attended and showed their support. I loved hearing the different stories our presenters had to share, seeing the marketplace filled with so many talented people, and getting the chance to talk with so many attendees. I am always so grateful to be witnessed and for any opportunities to share my own story of identity. One of my favorite things about doing events like this is getting to meet you all, and being able to connect with each of you in person. I hope you had a chance to listen to our presenters, see the “Then They Came for Me” exhibit, and find moments that encouraged you to tell your own story, too.
During my presentation, I mentioned a few different statistics regarding intermarriage, recipes, organizations, podcasts, places, and people that have influenced my own story or that I have drawn inspiration from over the years. If you didn’t have the chance to catch the name of the person or organization I would love to share them with you here.
Resources from my presentation:
The presenters, marketplace vendors, and organizations would love to connect with you through social media so please feel free to follow us on Instagram or check out our websites to stay in touch!
Nourish Co. Jewish-Japanese-Californian cookbook zines
Tessaku Tule Lake zine and enamel pin
Uprisers Community-driven fashion brand
6 Degrees of Hapa Illustrations and tees
Alyson Iwamoto Ceramic jewelry
Ganbun Painted wood bead jewelry and keychains
Roan Bontempo Photography, illustration, and print media
Andrew Kodama Photography
A Miyako M Painting and illustration
Maia Kamehiro-Stockwell Block printing
Then They Came For Me Exhibit has been extended to September 1, so if you weren’t able to make it to the event, I hope you will get to visit them sometime soon!
Events like this always makes me so appreciative for everyone in the Nourish Co. community. I hope our stories inspire and motivate you to connect with your own family history, heritage, or your own personal narrative and share it with those around you. You never know who with who it might resonate. Thank you again to everyone who attended and I hope to see you at future events!
To learn more about San Francisco’s rich Japanese American history, download my geo-tagged audio tour of Japantown here.
For my interview with Diana Emiko Tsuchida on oral history and preserving our hxstory as a community, check out our interview here.
To learn more about the Japanese American incarceration, head to my reflections from the Manzanar Pilgrimage last year here (this year is the 50th anniversary!)