Gil Asakawa

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:

Updated January 2022

war en

Nikkei View

The World Still Needs Min Yasui

It’s easy to lose sight of someone’s national reputation if that person is a part of the local fabric.


I'm reminded of this fact about the late Minoru Yasui, who died in 1986 after a long career as an attorney and community activist. In Denver, he’s best known as the executive director of the Denver Commission on Community Relations from 1967 to 1983. He’s often credited as the man who was so respected within Denver’s ethnic enclaves that he prevented the city from going up in flames of riot during the summer of 1967, when racial tensions ripped apart …

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Nikkei View

Japanese American identity – How do I feel when someone says “Gil-san”?

I had an interesting thread of conversation the other day on Facebook, after someone sent me a friend request that ended with the person (he’s Caucasian) calling me “Gil-san.”

He wrote this in good cheer and good faith, and as a sign of collegial respect. I know that. But it struck me odd somehow, that non-Japanese people (usually Caucasians) throughout my life have assumed that it’s perfectly normal to call me “Gil-san,” or to say “konnichiwa” (“hello”) or “sayonara,” as if I speak Japanese, or better yet, that I appreciate someone else assuming that I speak Japanese.

I do—a little. …

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Nikkei View

Happy New Year, Japanese-style

Unlike other Asian cultures, the Japanese don’t celebrate Lunar New Year. Instead, they celebrate the Western calendar New Year, January 1, and some of the special holiday traditions have been handed down to Japanese Americans over the past century.

Japanese New Year’s traditions are different from Western (or at least, American) ones: First of all, New Year’s Eve isn’t the big holiday, and the focus isn’t on partying and waiting until midnight on Dec. 31 to watch the Times Square ball slide down, or to see fireworks or make hearty toasts. A lot of us do, because we go to …

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Nikkei View

Memorial for Colo. Gov. Ralph Carr dedicated

Ralph Carr, the man who served as governor of Colorado at the start of World War II, had been largely forgotten for decades. But thanks to an effort by the Asian Pacific Bar Association (APABA) and a biography by journalist Adam Schrager, Carr’s making a comeback in Colorado, and his legacy is finally getting its due, with a fine biography, a stretch of Highway 285 named in his honor, and now, a memorial to Carr’s legacy at Kenosha Pass.


On December 12, representatives of Denver’s Japanese American community, APABA, and CDOT assembled at a scenic overlook just a …

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Nikkei View

History in the Northwest

11:00 a.m.

Here I sit in my rental car, mere yards from the water. I’m waiting for the Bainbridge Island Ferry in Seattle—I missed the last one by just seconds and the next one leaves in an hour.


Bainbridge Island is the place captured poetically in the book and movie, “Snow Falling on Cedars” (which means, come to think of it, that it snows in Seattle, at least sometimes).

A generation of Japanese Americans settled there in the early part of the 20th century. And, those Japanese Americans and their families were rounded up and railroaded to Manzanar, one …

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