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Nikkei Chronicles #4—Nikkei Family: Memories, Traditions, and Values

A Letter to My Parents

Photo courtesy of the Letter to My Parents Organizing Committee.

Dear Teresa, Victor, and Maria Hito,

While anyone would agree you are far from traditional, I find myself now embracing our strange tendencies. Living among Japanese Peruvian immigrants with amusing accents may not seem difficult; however, I assure you it carries its burdens.

Growing up with a mom that isolated herself from socializing with other prosperous thriving parents, leaning on an uncle who replaced the supposed much needed father in my life, and explaining to my sweet grandmother the foreign English words she fought hard to understand. These people made up my childhood which I recall fondly upon.

However, I will not deny the times I occasionally wished to be born in this world with a typical American family. One who did not dress me up in strange patterned vests and sweaters that received ridicule. One who packed ordinary lunches instead of leaving me with onigiri or norimaki that, when my fellow classmates walked by, they criticized with their noses scrunched up in disgust. One who could help me on the cryptic homework assignments my first grade teacher assigned every week.

I regret the time when I finally snapped, oblivious to what you were doing to me. Growing up I was too young to understand why there were times when I was ashamed to embrace my culture. The majority of Caucasians started suffocating me, forcing me to adapt to who they were, not to who I was. These experiences tried to change me into the rest of society in Massachusetts. It is a relief that it was unsuccessful.

The majority of my childhood you were clueless to my internal conflicts, but that does not mean that you were negligent. I could not have wished for more capable human beings to provide me love and affection that I have failed to witness as a child.

No matter how perplexed you became over my odd habits, you provided me with your best effort to truly understand what I desired. Although I was unaware of our financial situation compared to others surrounding us, that did not stop you from working with what we had to keep our family thriving.

There is realistically nothing I can give back to express what you have done for me. How do you say thank you to the people who have taken care of you since you were born? While every family bickers and deteriorates at times, I could not bring an ounce of my being to hate you. None of the other social relations I had could compare to the relationship I had with my family.

To say I was genuinely surprised by who I turned out to be is an understatement. From the boisterous outgoing little girl to the matured reserved teenager, I never believed I would have such a strong similarity to my mom. The chemistry between us when we idly chat or sit down for discussion of solemn topics is unfathomably comfortable. I can be confident when approaching you for any subject. There is no secrecy or stress in our relationship which only makes our bond inseparable.

While you were strict at times, you never resorted to pressuring me into what I had to be. You let me grow and mature on my own while offering guidance on crucial decisions.

However, I would be lying if I said you were the only one. No one could provide more direct truthful perspectives than my Grandmother. You were the one who got passionate and furious over the things that needed to be brought to attention. I became someone who does not procrastinate over petty assignments or sizeable ones, but only because you taught me that procrastination is no better than laziness.

Even my uncle, the jokester in my family, gave me a male perspective that only he could contribute. A hefty amount of my hobbies originated from your encouraging exposure of electronic games, athletics, and television shows that I could not help but be allured to. All of these factors molded me into the individual that I am still currently becoming.

However, along with those factors everyone contains their personal flaws, which more often than not are noted by their closest associates. In particular, I become nitpicky and paranoid when it comes to various expenses.

There are not vast amounts of job opportunities for somebody my age, yet I am determined to try and dedicate myself to a minor profession. Parents and guardians dedicate a significant portion of their lives working to satisfy necessities for their family. What you have been doing all your lives, I want to be able to do as well. To become someone a classmate can count on, while genuinely caring for them and their situation. It is an immense honor to have someone in your family, or anyone in general, that trusts you enough to open up to you. More than anything I would want to be the person you can lean on in terms of support and advice. You have given me everything. I would want to attempt to give back twice as much.

There are times when tensions rise between not only us, but between each other. These can lead to quarrels that range from scarce to at intervals; however, they need to be tamed. The problem lies within the short temper that flares fiercely when something does not appeal to another. While most of the time these meager fits last for brief periods of time, it can cause uneasiness and stiffness. Better communication skills would not hurt to grasp, especially for dealing with significant arguments for when they break out. Of course I would willingly take the first step in agreeing to tame my anger and acquire patience to set a relevant precedent.

I hope you know that I would endure severe to petty complications, because there is no one else in the world that I love more.


Maia Hito


* This Letter was originally presented at the 2015 Letter to My Parents Contest in Los Angeles organized by Rotary Club of Historic Filipinotown and Reiyukai America, where her letter won the 2nd prize. For more details, visit at


© 2015 Maia Hito

20 Stars

Nima-kai Favorites

Each article submitted to this series was eligible for selection as favorites of our readers and the Editorial Committees. Thank you to everyone who voted!

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About this series

Nikkei family roles and traditions are unique because they have evolved over many generations, based on various social, political, and cultural experiences in the country they migrated to.

Discover Nikkei collected stories from around the world related to the topic of Nikkei Family, including the stories that tell how your family has influenced who you are, and allow us to understand your perspectives on what family is. This series introduces these stories.

For this series, we asked our Nima-kai to vote for their favorite stories and our editorial committee to pick their favorites.

Here are the selected favorite stories.

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  Nima-kai selection:

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