New “Chasing Japan” blogsite

Chasing Japan is a blog about two guys and their dream of living and working in Japan.

“A lifestyle blog of sorts, we want to share our love of Japanese culture with the world, and how that love fuels our desire to build our very own business in Japan.

From a variety of Japanese pop culture topics, photography blurbs, and tips on how to balance work and life, we hope you find our posts entertaining and useful in some way.

So welcome to the adventure. We’d love for you to join us!”

Louis Rivera and Nick Burkhalter are the “two guys”.  Louis has studied the Japanese language, and was the MC for the Tucson Japanese Festival on Jan. 14, 2017 at PCC Downtown. Nick claims to have his “head in the clouds, heart in Japan”, as he is married to a Japanese woman, and has traveled to Japan three times.

Cherry Blossom Festival at Japanese Friendship Garden in San Diego, courtesy of Chasing Japan

Website:  Recent blog articles  posted on Chasing Japan have been about visits to the Japanese American National Museum (Los Angeles, CA), the 12th Annual Cherry Blossom Festival (San Diego, CA),  Inaugural Otaku Festival (Tucson, AZ) and the 2017 Annual Arizona Matsuri (Phoenix, AZ).  Stay tuned for more as Louis and Nick travel, take photographs, and enjoy Japanese culture.

Louis also has an ongoing photo exhibit “Japan by Night” with color photographs taken during a visit to Japan in 2016, at Yume Japanese Gardens of Tucson.  Exhibit ends on March 28, 2017. Read more at our front page article of Feb. 14, 2017.

L to R: Louis, plus Cosplay characters at Tucson Otaku Festival, courtesy of Chasing Japan. Cosplay characters are  Franken Stein, a Survey Corps member, & Hatsune Miku in back.

Ikebana for Everyone at Tucson Botanical Gardens in March and April, 2017

Ikebana For Everyone: 4-Part Series (Ohara School of Ikebana) at Tucson Botanical Gardens, 2150 N. Alvernon Way

Create beauty and reduce stress through Ikebana, the ancient Japanese art of arranging flowers in the style most pleasing to the eye.  Learn from the Ohara School of Ikebana whose instruction is the result of 600 years of evolving artistic development in Japan.   Develop your practice incrementally over four sessions. Price now includes a container and kenzan to take home and flowers for each session. Please bring a bucket, towel, and shears.

4-part series: Mar. 16, Mar. 23, Mar. 30 and Apr. 6

Date: 03/16/2017

Time: 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Price: $125

Class availability limitations: None

Register online:

Asian book panel discussion at Tucson Festival of Books on March 11

 At the Tucson Festival of Books on Saturday March 11, 4 to 5 p.m. – a panel discussion on Asian books, with Junko Sakoi and Yoo Kyung Sung.
“The Danger of Dragons: False Images in Asian Books”
“Dragons are often portrayed in children’s books as a common symbol across many Asian cultures.This portrayal is a misunderstanding with some Asian cultures have strong connections to dragons, but others having different types of relationships. Comparisons of Chinese, Japanese and Korean cultures will be made through children’s books and cultural information.”

WWII Japanese American internment camps to be discussed at Tucson Festival of Books, March 11 & 12

Pamela Rotner Sakamoto, author of “Midnight in Broad Daylight: A Japanese American Family Caught Between Two Worlds” will be attending Tucson Festival of  Books on the University of Arizona mall.  “The true story of a Japanese American family that found itself on opposite sides during World War II—an epic tale of family, separation, divided loyalties, love, reconciliation, loss, and redemption—this is a riveting chronicle of U.S.–Japan relations and the Japanese experience in America. After their father’s death, Harry, Frank, and Pierce Fukuhara—all born and raised in the Pacific Northwest—moved to Hiroshima, their mother’s ancestral home. Eager to go back to America, Harry returned in the late 1930s. Then came Pearl Harbor. Harry was sent to an internment camp until a call came for Japanese translators and he dutifully volunteered to serve his country. Back in Hiroshima, his brothers Frank and Pierce became soldiers in the Japanese Imperial Army.”

Pamela Rotner Sakamoto

She will be on panel discussions on the WWII Japanese American Internment on March 11, 10 a.m, (Gallagher Theater in the UA Student Union ) and on Race Relations on March 12, 10 a.m., and WWII Internment & the Holocaust on March 12, 2:30 p.m. (UA Library, Special Collections)
See our Calendar for more details.
“Fluent in Japanese, Pamela Rotner Sakamoto lived in Kyoto and Tokyo for seventeen years. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Amherst College, she holds a doctorate from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Sakamoto is an expert consultant on Japan-related projects for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. and has taught in the University of Hawaii System. Currently, she teaches history at Punahou School in Honolulu. “Midnight in Broad Daylight: A Japanese American Family Caught Between Two Worlds During World War II” is her first trade book.”
All Info at to reserve tickets for some of the events, and the full 2 day schedule of the festival. 
Also coming to Tucson Festival of Books are two authors writing specifically on the WWII Japanese American internment camps:

Richard Cahan, author of

Richard Cahan by Jason Marck

 “Un-American: The Incarceration of Japanese Americans During World War II”,





Cahan is “a journalist who writes about photography, art, and history. He worked for the Chicago Sun-Times from 1983 to 1999, primarily serving as the paper’s picture editor. He left to found and direct CITY 2000, a project that documented Chicago in the year 2000. Since then, he has authored and co-authored more than a dozen books, including “Vivian Maier: Out of the Shadows.”

and Richard Reeves, author of

Richard Reeves by Patricia Williams

Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese American Internment in World War II

Reeves is “Senior Lecturer at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California, is an author and syndicated columnist whose column has appeared in more than 100 newspapers since 1979. He has received dozens of awards for his work in print, television and film. Reeves has published more than twenty books, translated into more than a dozen languages.”

Both authors will be on the March 11 WWII internment panel with Pamela Sakamoto at 10:00 a.m.
Reeves joins Sakamoto again on the March 12 panel at 2:30 p.m. on “Asking Why: WWII Internment and Holocaust”. See our Calendar for details.

Otaku Festival of Modern Japan at Yume Japanese Gardens on March 4, 2017

“Tell a Westerner that Japanese youth are into costumed role playing, and what comes to mind may be an image of a teenage geisha in kimono.

Far from it, however. The hippest hobby in Japan today is “cosplay.” That’s a portmanteau word that describes making up and suiting up to adopt – and in the most extreme cases, even live out – the activities of characters in Japanese cartoons, anime movies, music videos, and manga comics. The most obsessed, full-time fans form a genuine subculture that Japanese social scientists call “otaku.”

Southern Arizona’s own lively cosplay community will turn out in flashy ensembles, elaborate headgear, and accessories in an Otaku Festival at Yume Japanese Gardens of Tucson on March 4, 2017, from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Yume is Tucson’s only authentic Japanese garden and the southernmost of more than 250 in the U.S. and Canada.

Festival goers can mingle with role players in outlandish outfits inspired by Japanese pop music stars, inspect others in fluffy skirts and petticoats in imitation of “Lolita” comic characters, and watch a screened showing of cosplay favorite Hatsune Miku, a “vocaloid,” or humanoid persona voiced by a singing synthesizer application.

Rounding out the day’s activities will be an origami (paper-folding) workshop, a display of action and musical Hatsune Miku figurines, a show of flamboyant Japanese street fashion, and an exhibition of another of Japan’s latest enthusiasms: BJDs, or poseable dolls with ball and joint sockets. They have a distinctly Asian aesthetic with often eerily lifelike features, and are customizable, collectible, and cost up to hundreds of dollars.”

Admission to the Otaku Festival is $10. Yume Japanese Gardens are located at 2130 N. Alvernon Way, one block south of the Tucson Botanical Gardens, and are open from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm Tuesday through Sunday, weather permitting.

For more information about the Gardens and the festival, visit or telephone (520) 272-3200.”  Photo below courtesy of Yume Japanese Gardens.


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: Her mother Toshiko was present for this reading of nine poems of “Acts of Translation.”

Heather Nagami







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. Some of Heather’s works are included in this exhibit.

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, 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.