By Dee Goto, For The North American Post
“Omoide” means memories and is a writing group I helped start in 1991. That was 30 years ago and it is still going strong. There are two main reasons why Omoide began:
1. There is a Japanese Special Collection in the UW Suzzallo Library basement. Fifty years ago, I was hired in 1970 to help start it by collecting documents on the Japanese experience in the Pacific Northwest.
2. Twenty years later, in 1991, I decided to help create our own documentation. Four of us met weekly in my kitchen and talked about our memories. At the end of 1993, I typed up some of the stories, went to Kinko’s, and made covers for them with construction paper. We stapled the stories together as Christmas presents. That was the first “Omoide” booklet.
Here are some things the early Omoide writers shared:
Margaret Yasuda: “Writing your life stories with Dee Goto: That was it! What a wonderful idea!”
Dell Uchida: “It seems a shame to travel through this life without leaving some trace of having been here.”
Chuck Kato: “I kept saying I should write and I guess it was Dee who made me do it.”
I said, “Studies show knowledge of our heritage builds self-esteem.”
The Japanese Cultural and Community Center (JCCCW) was incorporated in 2003 and Omoide was one of its first programs. Atsushi Kiuchi joined our group in 2004. He helped get a grant from the Washington State Civil Liberties Public Education Fund (now named the Kip Tokuda Memorial Fund) to publish Omoide IV for teachers, schools and the general public. Both Omoide IV and Omoide V carried principal themes of the Nikkei experience before, during and after World War II.
We are currently working on “Omoide VI” — another collection of stories documenting our Nikkei history, current issues, and our hopes for the future. Please join us. We will resume face-to-face writing workshops as described below. It’s fun!
Omoide Writing Workshop
Saturday, September 18, 1 pm
JCCCW, 1414 South Weller Street, Seattle (in person)