Naomi Hirahara

Naomi Hirahara is the author of the Edgar Award-winning Mas Arai mystery series, which features a Kibei Nisei gardener and atomic-bomb survivor who solves crimes, Officer Ellie Rush series, and now the new Leilani Santiago mysteries. A former editor of The Rafu Shimpo, she has written a number of nonfiction books on the Japanese American experience and several 12-part serials for Discover Nikkei.

Updated October 2019

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The Nihongo Papers

Chapter 1

“There’s another one,” said Bob Shishido, almost in whisper.

“No.” Greg went to the desk on the other side of the bungalow and looked over his father’s shoulder at the computer screen.

It was a link to a Los Angeles Times story. Another death due to strawberries. This was the third case. All in Ontario, Canada.

The Shishido Farm strawberries weren’t shipped to Canada. But that didn’t matter. Strawberries weren’t like packaged cookies or aspirin. People couldn’t tell the difference between brands and varieties. Consumers didn’t know the difference between strawberries grown in Watsonville, California, and Oxnard, California, where the …

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The Making of Mamo's Weeds: Mystery of an L.A. Gardener's Life

As I’ve stated before in interviews, it took me 15 years to get my first novel published. I rewrote it numerous times (maybe the first chapter 33 times!), eliminated major characters, revamped the plot, and changed the title about four times. The one thing that stayed the same was the lead character, Mas Arai, a Japanese American gardener and atomic bomb survivor.


Only when the story transformed into a mystery did literary agents finally take notice. The title, Summer of the Big Bachi, also reflected the story’s mysterious plot line. Since then I’ve come to realize that the …

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