Gil Asakawa

Gil Asakawa writes about pop culture and politics from a Asian American and Japanese American perspective on his blog, www.nikkeiview.com. He and his partner also co-founded www.visualizAsian.com, where they conduct live interviews with notable Asian American Pacific Islanders. He is the author of Being Japanese American (Stone Bridge Press, 2004) and served as the Pacific Citizen's editorial board chair for seven years as a JACL national board member.

Updated November 2009

culture en

Nikkei View

A visit to Nan Desu Kan: Cosplay takes the spotlight at anime convention

As an outsider to the anime and manga community Erin and I are drawn to Nan Desu Kan, Denver’s anime convention that celebrates its 16th year this weekend at the Marriott in the Tech Center, in large part for its attendees’ passion for cosplay. We’re not that familiar with the plethora of contemporary anime titles (though I did grow up as a kid in Japan watching the likes of Astro Boy).

[inline:joieha-amyng-ndk2012.jpg]

But you don’t need to be an anime expert to appreciate the crazy freakshow (in the good way) of cosplay.

Cosplay is a word coined …

Read more

food en

Nikkei Chronicles #1—ITADAKIMASU! A Taste of Nikkei Culture

Food for Life: Nice Rice

It’s been 20 years since I graduated from college (!), and I realized I don’t have much to show from those days.

Old, laughably out-of-date clothes were turned into rags years ago; I’ve upgraded my cheap stereo with better equipment and newer CD technology; and I’ve driven several cars since my beloved Mazda Mizer. What I do have still with me are some books, a few pieces of artwork (I went to art school), jade plant (it’s huge), and my rice cooker.

It’s a small, three-cup cooker made by Matsushita, with an old “National” logo on its switch. My parents …

Read more

community en

Kizuna: Nikkei Stories from the 2011 Japan Earthquake & Tsunami

As anniversary of Tohoku Earthquake nears, Japan thanks the world, shows recovery efforts

It’s almost a year since the 9.0-level Great East Japan Earthquake, as the disaster is now officially called, and the subsequent tsunami devastated a huge swath of the Tohoku region along the country’s northeast coast. With the anniversary looming, many communities in the U.S are planning commemorative events, and many people are remembering how they learned of the disaster.

The initial news of the earthquake, which struck at 2:46 PM local time on March 11, 2011, were horrific: I got an email alert and tuned in CNN late at night Denver time on March 10, and saw the tsunami …

Read more

food en

Nikkei View

Cooking Japanese food with my mom: Okara and Tempura

My mom doesn’t cook as much as she used to. She used to cook everything—mostly Japanese food of course. She even used to make her own tofu. After my dad passed away in the early ’90s she cooked for herself for years, making large portions of dishes to freeze and re-heat as meals for days. But lately she finds cooking “mendokusai,” which translates to “bothersome" but I like “pain in the butt.”

She was always a great cook and of the three boys in the family, I was the one who absorbed a lot of her cooking by watching and …

Read more

culture en

Nikkei View

Karaoke on Steriods

This article was written in 2003. I haven’t judged the Kohaku Utagassen contest since then, but I’ve attended the event most years. It’s still a tradition for Denver’s Japanese-speaking community, and a showcase for the older generation’s treasured “enka” style of pop song.

This weekend I discovered that karaoke can be incredibly elegant, and a legitimate form of entertainment—not just bar fodder.

[inline:utagassen1.jpg]

I was a judge for the 28th annual Red vs. White Singing Competition, Denver’s professionally-staged version of Japan’s Kohaku Utagassen contest. In Japan, Kohaku Utagassen is an institution. It’s an annual contest between women (red team) and …

Read more