Musashi Mix Inq


Posted on September 3, 2016


I never used to put too much stock in wishing— Talking to god, or whoever else listens to quiet desperate voices in the dead of night. I remember being in grade-school, dreaming before sleep that life was different; that I had a another body to wake to. But the morning would come and so too the cold light of just another day.

Not that I wanted out of the game.

The world was still too beautiful and I was just too strange, stubborn, and loved to leave it behind.

Gamman: we endure.

But in April of 2015, I decided it was time. Time to embrace that small voice that I had carried with me on this strange journey and fulfill the dream that had eluded me all my life. So I took my grandmother's unused, blank staring daruma off the shelf and made a wish. I was thrilled to feel like a silly child again as I sketched in one of its eyes with sharpie. This past August, after nine months of HRT and over a year of methodically coming out to my family, friends, and community, I drew in the other eye.

Your wish is granted.

I don't know when the word transgender entered my vocabulary, but once it did, I learned that I wasn't alone. Just like other helpful labels like hapa or spoonie, this word had the power to affect change thru self-acceptance and acts of radical self-love.

I am the stubborn nail. I am a self-fulfilling prophecy. I'd like to think that my grandmother would be proud of that.

Obachan and me



Posted on August 21, 2016

So it's time for a reintroduction of sorts:


My name is Danielle Musashi Tanimura (she, her)

I've been here all along and can't say how much I love you, for all of the support that I've gotten from you who have been here with me thru this strange journey called life.


Art. Chronic pain. Redemption. Identity. Miscarriage.
And now for another type of Transition.

Luckily, the show is just getting started, and there are many more worlds to create.

I hope you'll join me on this next adventure.


Indian Giver

Posted on June 13, 2016

Indian Giver

During WWII, my family spent 4 years in the re-reclaimed desert of the Gila River Reservation.

Something about the US Government taking back the land they forced the Native Americans onto after annihilating their entire civilization and stuffing it with "Enemy Aliens" always made me laugh through the tears.

I rarely dig into this directly with my art, but a history of displacement and denial of identity is a huge part of who I am.

So when you ask me where I come from, I have to take a moment and remember that each of us are more than merely what we can carry on our backs or the stories in our faces. You can strip me down and define me, but you still won't see me. You can force me into the wasteland, but I will not break.

And when I see the Stars and Stripes, I salute because there is barbed wire in my blood.

Gaman— We endure.


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Posted on May 8, 2014


"I can't believe that Godzilla was the only surviving member of its species.

But if we continue conducting nuclear tests, it's possible that

another monster might appear somewhere in the world again."

Godzilla, 1954 —

Learn the real story of the survivors of American Pacific nuclear testing 60 years later ]


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Ghost Story

Posted on October 15, 2012

Ghost Story, ©MMXII

An unexpected return to Occupied.

At times the art has a mind of its own; the finished piece calls out for me to find it in the mist.

A friendly ghost longing to be be remembered…


Palliativity 166: writing on the wall – part two

Posted on October 11, 2012

Continued from part one:

« • »

December - 2006

I sat out on my front porch waiting for her arrival. You can't always anticipate the new chapter in your life.

She double parked her car out front, got out and handed me the keys. Parallel wasn't her parking preference.

For two people who had shared so many experiences and words, suddenly we were hesitant.

We didn't share our first kiss til we got upstairs. When we opened our eyes, we found ourselves on some strange unknown beautiful world.

A love supreme.

Thankfully our friendship remained unchanged. On the downside, neither did the distance.

She returned to school.

« • »

February - 2007

I still wasn't making art yet. A community project changed that.

The Japanese American Service Committee was organizing a mural to be made by community members
under the guidance of professional artists from Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education.

The dozen of us, ages 2-80, met every Saturday for brainstorming sessions as we planned out the mural.

Love, Palliatives and Purpose made me an artist:

Chaos unleashed.

I started out doodling. When I hit the edge of the page, I grabbed yellow aged masking tape.

More colors. More paper. I dug into the details and the symbology exploded.

June - 2007

We didn't start painting til summer. My love returned from school and our cohabitation began.

She had taken part in the mural project on her breaks in Chicago. She was one of the group's driving forces.
At the same time, the Japanese American community began to accept her as one of them.

The mural project became a huge part of our lives together.

July - 2007

My mother and I road-tripped to Cleveland to visit my Grandma. She was in the late stages of hospice care for lung cancer. When we arrived at her home that evening, she was awake but could no longer speak; too many tubes and life-giving machines. Grandma had stayed up waiting just for us to arrive, but quickly needed to go to bed. My grandfather's passing six months prior had set her health on a resolute trajectory. She died at 4am that very night.

Dejavu: I call my girlfriend back in Chicago in the pre-dawn hours. I have too much practice at making this phone call.

After shiva, we leave my grandparents' home for the last time.

« • »

We return to Chicago as a family lost in tragedy.

Timing is everything and this was my moment to take it back.

I ask my girl to marry me with my grandmother's ring.