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Gil Asakawa

@gilasakawa

Gil Asakawa is a journalist, editor, author, and blogger who covers Japan, Japanese American and Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) culture and social justice issues in blogs, articles, and social media. He is a nationally-known speaker, panelist, and expert on Japanese American and Asian American history and identity. He’s the author of Being Japanese American (Stone Bridge Press) and his next book, Tabemasho! Let’s Eat! (Stone Bridge Press), a history of Japanese food in America which will be published in 2022. His blog: nikkeiview.com

Updated January 2022


Stories from This Author

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Interpreting Lost in Translation 20 years later

Nov. 30, 2023 • Gil Asakawa

I get it. I understand. Traveling to someplace you’ve never been, where the culture and language is foreign to you, can be challenging. I know lots of Americans–including some Japanese Americans–who’ve either been hesitant to go to Japan, or who’ve gone and struggled to adjust to the oddly familiar, yet unfamiliar, sights, sounds, tastes and culture. It can be discombobulating. That’s the opening premise of a movie that was released 20 years ago: Lost in Translation. The film was written …

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A New Take on Madama Butterfly Updates Puccini’s Opera for Modern Times

Sept. 8, 2023 • Gil Asakawa

Even if you haven’t seen the opera, most people know the title Madama Butterfly, Giacomo Puccini’s famous work which debuted in 1904. More people today are probably familiar with Miss Saigon, the gaudy but popular Broadway musical based on Butterfly that takes the same plotline as Butterfly—American soldier stationed in Asia falls in love with a local woman, and returns to the States, not realizing she’s pregnant—and places the story during the end of the Vietnam War in the 1970s. Butterfly …

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On “Authenticity” in Japanese food

May 7, 2023 • Gil Asakawa

Maybe not surprisingly, I’ve been a stickler for “authenticity” in food—especially Japanese food. I was born in Japan, and I’ve loved Japanese food all my life. I even wrote a book about the history of Japanese food in America, Tabemasho! Let’s Eat! I’m a foodie who takes #foodporn shots of many of my meals. I love all cuisines and seek out new dishes to try. And I try to make sure that the food I like reflects traditional culture, accurately …

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Eating Together Again for the Holidays

Jan. 3, 2023 • Gil Asakawa

It’s been a long, sometimes lonely three years since COVID-19 arrived in the world and changed all our lives. For many of us, this holiday season may be the first since the pandemic shutdowns when we’ll be traveling to visit family once again, and dining with them. (Of course, we didn’t know a historic deep freeze would disrupt nationwide travel over the Christmas weekend….) If we’re lucky, we live not far from our parents and grandparents, and have been able …

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Learning about Asian Americans through Pop Culture

Oct. 28, 2022 • Gil Asakawa

Pop culture can be a mirror that reflects the issues and values of its time—for good and bad. For instance, Hollywood initially embraced Asians, and two of the early film era’s biggest stars were Los Angeles-born Chinese American Anna May Wong and Japanese-born Sessue Hayakawa. Anna May Wong is now featured on a quarter; Sessue Hayakawa is probably best remembered today for The Bridge over the River Kwai. But as the 20th century progressed, Hollywood began casting white actors with eyes taped …

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Sake to me, baby

June 30, 2022 • Gil Asakawa

Nancy Matsumoto readily admits she’s a lightweight when drinking alcohol. “It’s ironic, that I wrote this,” she says. Matsumoto co-wrote Exploring the World of Japanese Craft Sake: Rice, Water, Earth with Michael Tremblay (Tuttle). It’s the latest in a number of book collaborations, including Displaced: Manzanar 1942–1945—The Incarceration of Japanese Americans and an upcoming book, By the Shore of Lake Michigan, in which she served as editor for a translation of a collection of her grandparents’ Japanese tanka poetry. Matsumoto is …

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I’m so disappointed to see stereotyped snack packaging in my supermarket

May 25, 2022 • Gil Asakawa

Racial stereotypes used to be part of the American consumer landscape – everywhere you turned there was a depiction, playful caricature or a ghastly exaggerated image of a person of color on commercials and ads on television or publications, or on packaging on store shelves. But if nothing else, the recent years of anti-racism protests in the wake of the murders of George Floyd and the many Black men and women before him and since, has awakened mainstream Americans and …

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This Year’s Pilgrimage to Amache Will Be Very, Very Special

April 8, 2022 • Gil Asakawa

Every year on the Saturday before Labor Day Weekend, people converge in southeast Colorado to visit Amache, the camp where 9,000 people of Japanese descent were incarcerated during World War II. This annual pilgrimage started in 1975, organized by Denver activists Marge Taniwaki and Russell Endo. It’s always an inspiring journey, which starts at the site of the concentration camp and ends at nearby Granada School, where community leaders and the amazing students of the Amache Preservation Society at the …

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Asian representation: It’s getting better, but still has ages-old challenges

Dec. 22, 2021 • Gil Asakawa

Japanese Americans and the wider Asian Americans and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities are seeing more of ourselves reflected in pop culture these days, but the high arts has a ways to go. It’s important to recognize the ongoing challenges of representation, because they affect our view of ourselves and our community. The past year-and-a-half has seen a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes across the United States, thanks to fanning of the racism sparked the covid-19 pandemic. And yet, Asians have become more …

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Finally, a salute to WWII Nisei soldiers

Nov. 25, 2021 • Gil Asakawa

It took 15 years, but the US Postal Service (USPS) this past June released a Forever stamp that memorializes the “Go For Broke” 100th Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the Nisei soldiers of World War II who served in Europe and became the most highly decorated unit in the history of the US military for their size and length of service. The Pacific Citizen newspaper reported last year on the approval for the stamp, which was the result of a decade-and-a-half of …

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