2017 Haiku Contest winners for Arizona Matsuri

Once again Yukihiro Ibuki (now Interim Director of SAJCC) and active SAJCC volunteer Miki Pimienta have won Outstanding and Honorable Mentions in the 2017 Arizona Matsuri haiku contest, under the Japanese Language section.  Both Yuki and Miki are originally from Japan, living now in Tucson.   Read their submissions here (page 46 and thereafter):


Yuki received three Outstanding awards and Miki received one Outstanding and two Honorable Mentions.  Congratulations to both writers for their lovely submissions, two of which are reprinted below.

Miki’s Outstanding haiku:

“二百年生きた証の骨さぼてん Ni hyaku-nen ikita akashi no hone sabo ten

the cactus bones, evidence of its existence two hundred years ago”

Outstanding Haiku     Miki, Tucson

One of Yuki’s Outstanding haiku:

“春の雲旅人集うオアシスに Haru no kumo tabibito tsudou oashisu ni

springs clouds, an oasis provided for travellers to gather”

Outstanding Haiku     Yukihiro I , Tucson

Yukihiro Ibuki, from FB page

Miki Pimienta, from FB page

Excerpts from Poet Heather Nagami’s “Acts of Translation” reading at Day of Remembrance in Tucson

Tucson poet Heather Nagami is Yonsei (4th generation Japanese American), and her Sansei mother Toshiko Edna Togawa was born in Poston Relocation Center, near Parker, Arizona. Poston was one of the largest of the WWII Japanese American internment camps, housing 18,000 civilians.

These excerpts were read by Heather at the Feb. 17, 2017 Day of Remembrance (of E.O. 9066) at the Tucson Desert Art Museum.  Two are re-published here by permission of Heather and can be found in her book “Hostile” by Chax Press, 2005. More info about Heather at her website: www.heathernagami.com. Her mother Toshiko was present for this reading of nine poems of “Acts of Translation.”







III.  Figure 10.30. Classroom building at the Poston I elementary school.

Since no arrangements had been made, evacuees built their own classrooms.

“But mom didn’t know if there was going to be one where we were going.”

West of Blocks 19 and 30.

“So, she brought encyclopedias for us and for the other children.”

Sufficient lumber was not available, so they leveled the ground.

“Only one suitcase, you know?”

The others brought bedding, toilet articles, eating utensils and clothing.  Walls were created of adobe, a foreign material to most.

“You see how your grandma is?  Even back then.”

Mixed mud for bricks, lined hundreds to dry in 115-degree heat.  Figure 10.13.

Pouring foundation for school.  Which still stands today.”


IV.  Daughter

Figure ten point.  ten point.  and they couldn’t?

Intergenerational tension was also a major problem in the relocation centers, especially since Issei and Nisei were very distinct generations.

This book says, “Intergenerational tension was also a major…  since Issei and Nisei were very… The majority of Issei leadership had…  du da da dah… Pearl Harbor… Nisei gained power and… Once the…

However, use of the Japanese language was restricted: meetings… in English… publications… in English…”

Meetings.  Meetings.  And publications.  What were.  But then how did?  I don’t think this is…

But auntie spoke going in, didn’t speak going out.

And you, born there, never spoke.  Here it says, “meetings.”  What is “meetings”?

I don’t think they let grandma speak to

speak to you, when you were born

speak “gohan”



like you


to me

How did grandma


How did



how to distinguish shiokarai from karai?

What words, what, what, English?  Shiokarai.  Salty?  Strong, biting taste, like shoyu?  No, like, like, soy sauce, right?  And karai is, is “hot”, like, like, hot like wasab No, no, like, horseradish.  Don’t eat that.  Hot, like horseradish.”


3 exhibits with photography, art and artifacts on the WWII Japanese American internment camps are ongoing at the Tucson Desert Art Museum, 7000 E. Tanque Verde Rd. until April 30, 2017.

Arizona Matsuri in Phoenix on February 25 and 26, 2017

This is the biggest Japanese cultural festival in the State of Arizona, all free for 2 days in downtown Phoenix.  Event schedule is published at www.azmatsuri.org, with four stages of entertainment this year.  Odaiko Sonora taiko drummers and Suzuyuki Kai traditional dancers (both from Tucson) will be performing as usual.

Odaiko Sonora taiko drummers’ performance: Sat.2/25 at 10:45 am on ASU Stage at ASU Center Court.

Mari Kaneta’s Suzuyuki Kai traditional dance troupe performing Sat. 2/25, 2:30 pm at Plaza Stage (6th St. x Adams), also on Sun. 2/26, 1:30 p.m. same stage.

Day of Remembrance on Feb. 18, 2017 in Tucson

Poet Heather Nagami will read “Acts of Translation” at 12:30 p.m. Her family was interned at several camps during WWII, along with the other 120,000 innocent U.S. Citizens, half of whom were children.  ASU Prof. Kathryn Nakagawa‘s family was also interned, and Carolyn  Classen‘s father Francis Sueo Sugiyama  “voluntarily” fled to Chicago from LA before the camp round up in 1942. About 5000 other people voluntarily left that Western Defense Command area as well.

Join us in remembering Feb. 19, 1942 when E.O. 9066 was signed by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and applied only to intern Japanese Americans during WWII.

Post event:  Panelist (and blogger) Carolyn Classen posted her remarks in Blog for Arizona: http://blogforarizona.net/former-u-s-senate-aide-carolyn-sugiyama-classen-creation-of-national-commission-which-investigated-the-wrong-done-to-wwii-japanese-americans/

Japan by Night photo exhibit at Yume Japanese Gardens

Japan by Night photo exhibit by Louis Rivera at Yume Japanese Gardens, opening on Feb. 18 to March 28, 2017. Yume gardens is at 2130 N. Alvernon Way. Gallery opening reception  from 5 to 7 p.m. on Feb. 18. 

Louis Rivera is a freelance photographer from San Diego, has studied  the Japanese language and traveled in Japan. He was the MC at the recent Tucson Japanese Festival (sponsored by SAJCC) on Jan. 14, 2017.

“Louis  was born and raised in San Diego, California where he first got exposed to Japanese culture thanks to the thriving community and local supermarkets. Wanting to share this culture’s beauty, Louis began practicing photography. He also co-founded a blog called Chasing Japan, where he writes about the Japanese culture and his take on photography. As a self-taught Japanese speaker, he also took a Japanese language class for a semester. Last year, Louis took a trip to Japan, covering half the country while recording photographs for the gallery, “Japan By Night.” The gallery features pictures of Japan’s unique spirit at various places during the summer months.”

More info: www.yumegardens.org.

Day of Remembrance (of E.O. 9066) at Tucson Desert Art Museum

Executive Order 9066 Day of Remembrance at Tucson Desert Art Museum, 7000 E. Tanque Verde Rd. Tucson

February 18, 2017 11:00 am-2:00 pm
“Join us to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, which authorized the incarceration of over 100,000 Japanese Americans following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. War hysteria and racial prejudice allowed the government to institute a mass detention program based on “military justification.” Speakers include academic experts in history and politics from UA and ASU who have researched or have intimate knowledge of the camps.”

11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Academic Panel discussion on Japanese American Internment during WWII featuring:
Carolyn Sugiyama Classen, former Legislative Aide to U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye
Prof. Kathryn Nakagawa, ASU Associate Professor in Asian Pacific American Studies, School of Social Transformation, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Prof. Min Yanagihashi, UA (retired), East Asian Studies Dept.

“Acts of Translation” to be read by poet Heather Nagami at 12:30 p.m. whose work has been on display there since Nov.5, 2016. Heather’s family was interned at several of the camps.

1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Discussion on “Gambatte! Legacy of an Enduring Spirit: Triumphing over Adversity. Japanese American WWII Incarceration Reflections, Then and Now” featuring:
Paul Kitagaki, Jr., Photographer with Susie and Terry Matsunaga relating perspectives on incarceration from personal and family experiences.

More info about the 3 current exhibits on the WWII Japanese American camps, go to www.tucsondart.org.

Gambatte! Legacy of an Enduring Spirit: Triumphing over Adversity. Japanese American WWII Incarceration Reflections, Then and Now; 

Behind Barbed Wire: Japanese American Incarceration in Arizona

Art of Circumstance: Art and Artifacts Created by Japanese Americans Incarcerated During WWII

UPDATE: Carolyn Classen (panelist/blogger) posted her remarks in Blog for Arizona: http://blogforarizona.net/former-u-s-senate-aide-carolyn-sugiyama-classen-creation-of-national-commission-which-investigated-the-wrong-done-to-wwii-japanese-americans/

Gila River Internment Camp during WWII, courtesy of Dr. Karen Leong

Girls’ Day Display at Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures

February 1, 2017 through March 3, 2017 at at Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures, 4455 E. Camp Lowell Drive, Tucson

“Hinamatsuri or Girls’ Day is an annual holiday in Japan held on March 3rd, which honors the health and well-being of girls. The holiday celebration includes special foods and sweets and the exhibit of a plum tree, flowers and a Hina doll display. The doll display is set up by families in mid-February to rid the girls of bad spirits and to renew and strengthen their character. The custom of erecting a doll display is rooted in a traditional belief that dolls have the power to contain bad spirits. To rid their homes of evil spirits, ancient Japanese people had a ritual called Hinanagashi, in which straw Hina dolls were set afloat on a boat down a river out to sea. In some regions of Japan, people follow this tradition and float the dolls from the Hina display on Girls’ Day.

The Hina doll display includes ornamental dolls representing the Emperor, Empress and their court set on a seven-tiered stand covered with a red carpet or cloth. Since Hinamatsuri was first celebrated in the Heian period (10th and 11th centuries) the dolls are dressed in the court garb of that period. The Imperial dolls are placed at the top of the display followed by three tiers featuring particular attendants or musicians. The bottom two tiers are filled with palatial items such as furniture, tools and carriages. Traditionally the Hina doll display is set up in February and disassembled no later than March 4th because it is believed that setting up the display early and clearing it out promptly will bring an early marriage for the girls. Failure to do so could mean a late marriage or no marriage at all.

The Girls’ Day Display at The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures is a five-tiered display including 15 dolls and other symbolic accessories. The display dates to the 1950s and was donated to the museum in 2014 by Nancy Phillips. The display will be up from February 1 through March 3, 2017.”



  • GENERAL: $9.
  • YOUTH (AGE 4-17): $6

Madama Butterfly Opera at Tucson Music Hall on Jan. 28 & 29, 2017



“With tender duets and the most breathtaking arias of all-time, Madama Butterfly encompasses a lifetime of hope and anticipation, betrayal and despair. Set in the idyllic village of Nagasaki, Japan, an innocent geisha’s love for an American naval officer leads to the ultimate heartbreak and tragedy. Considered Puccini’s greatest masterpiece, Madama Butterfly takes audiences to the pinnacles and depths of human emotion, rightfully securing its place in the heavens.”

Sung in Italian with English Supertitles. Tucson Music Hall is at 260 S. Church  Avenue, in downtown Tucson.

Other related event for this opera on our calendar for January 27 (Student Night).


“Baseball Behind Barbed Wire” talk at Tucson Desert Art Museum

“Beyond Barbed Wire: Celebrating the Legacy of Japanese American Baseball” January 22, 2017 at 1:30 pm, free event in Tucson Desert Art Museum auditorium, 7000 E. Tanque Verde Rd.

“Baseball was immensely important to the Japanese Americans in concentration camps. Bill Staples, author of “Kenichi Zenimura: Japanese American Baseball Pioneer”, will share how baseball helped raise the spirits of those in the camps and also helped with outside prejudice as the camps invited outside teams to play in matches. This event is free in the auditorium. Museum admission rates apply for entrance to the exhibit.”


Bill Staples – author of “Kenichi Zenimura: Japanese American Baseball Pioneer”

Kerry Yo Nakagawa – author and baseball historian, expert in Japanese American baseball

Tets Furukawa – former player/pitcher with the 1945 Gila River Eagles

Kenso Zenimura –  followed in his father’s footsteps as a talented player, coach, and mentor, as well as an ambassador for international baseball”

Photo: “The 1944 league baseball season got under way at the Tule Lake center on April 19. Nearly half of the 17,000 residents of the center were present for the opening game.”

photo courtesy of the Tucson Desert Art Museum.

Info: http://www.tucsondart.org/

Gallery Chat on WWII Japanese American Internment at Tucson Jewish History Museum on January 20, 2017

As part of the WWII Japanese American internment of about 120,000 civilians, two of the larger camps were at Gila River and at Poston in Arizona. Several of the families of those who were interned still live in Arizona, some here in Tucson. Well known Tucson educator the late Dr. Hank Oyama and his mother were interned at Poston Relocaiton Center.

Text of Brandon’s gallery chat available here at: http://aaww.org/state-erasure-arizona/

Excerpts about his interned family members:

“My grandfather, Midori Shimoda, was born on an island off the coast of Hiroshima and immigrated to the United States when he was eight.

He was incarcerated in Salt Lake City under suspicion of blowing up a uranium mill in southern Utah. He was incarcerated in a Department of Justice prison at Fort Missoula, Montana, under suspicion of being a spy for Japan. Both suspicions were formed, in part, by the anxiety that was produced by even the specter of a Japanese man in the minds of his white accusers.

His brother, my great-uncle Makeo, was incarcerated in Heart Mountain, Wyoming. His sister-in-law, my great-aunt Joy was incarcerated in Poston, in western Arizona. She was four when the United States deemed her an enemy of the state and considered it a military necessity to remove her, with her family, from her home in California, and incarcerate her in the middle of the desert.

On behalf of my great-aunt Joy, my great-uncle Makeo, and my grandfather Midori, I want to share with you some things I have been learning about Arizona’s place, and the place of Arizona, in the mass incarceration of Japanese and Japanese Americans.”