Ida Yoshinaga (Photo by Kenrick Yoshida
Ida Yoshinaga (Photo by Kenrick Yoshida

Jodie Chiemi Ching

It’s been a month and a half since the retired editor’s name, Karleen Chinen, appeared on the masthead of The Hawai‘i Herald. Fortunately for me, she stayed around to answer questions, share the editing load and write some of the columns. One of the challenges we faced together was finding a person to fill my former staff writer position. After months of reading resumés and writing samples, we finally found our writer, Ida Yoshinaga, Ph.D., and it is my pleasure to welcome her to the Herald ‘ohana.

Yoshinaga identifies as a sansei. She was born in Honolulu and raised in Wailuku on Maui where she graduated from Baldwin High School. Growing up, Yoshinaga attended Japanese-language school at Wailuku Hongwanji Mission, and every year on New Year’s Day, she visited the Maui Jinja Shinto shrine with her family.

Yoshinaga holds a bachelor’s degree in Asian studies, master’s degrees in sociology and creative writing and a doctorate degree in creative writing, all from the University of Hawai‘i at Mänoa. Yoshinaga is a lecturer at UHM teaching English and ethnic studies.

Her journalism experience includes reporting for The Hawai‘i Herald as a freelancer, and for Business Tokyo magazine and Bloomberg Business News, Tokyo Bureau, as a staff reporter.

Yoshinaga is also an award-winning creative writer and science fiction and fantasy scholar, a recipient of the Crown Prince (Emperor) Akihito Scholarship, the East-West Center Pre-Doctorate Fellowship and the Honolulu Women’s PEN chapter Honorable Mention award for poetry.

Knowledgeable of the various ethnic communities in Hawai‘i and the continental U.S., Yoshinaga has taught the “Japanese in Hawai‘i”  course for the Department of Ethnic Studies at UHM.

“When I meet local Japanese, people of certain generations gradually figure out that I am the late Hawaiʻi State Senator/former ILWU lawyer, Nadao Yoshinaga’s, niece by blood and celebrity cook Muriel Miura’s niece by marriage,”said Yoshinaga. “Perhaps inevitably, as a result of my family’s specializations in these fields, my own intellectual interests are labor politics and the politics of mass art in popular culture.

“As an undergraduate at UHM, where I had majored in Asian studies, my honors thesis was about anime and manga. So my hobbies are watching hours and hours of good (as well as awful) films and TV shows, and imbibing science fiction and fantasy genre stories including novels, short stories, and comics. Are these hobbies or lifelong obsessions? I think of them as a kind of joyful work.”

Well-equipped with journalistic, literary and media experience, Yoshinaga hit the ground running on her first day at the Herald. In this issue, her contributions included writing our Community Focus column, laying out part of the June TV Guide and assisting with copyediting. With all of us adjusting to Gov. David Ige’s stay-at-home order, the production of the paper has been an unpredictable adventure for all of us. This week, Yoshinaga interviewed Sen. Mazie Hirono about work she is doing in Congress to provide aid during the coronavirus pandemic for an upcoming article in June.

We are grateful and excited to have Yoshinaga on our team. Please say, “Hello” to her when you see her at community events when our state gradually starts to open up.


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