Mari L'Esperance

Mari L’Esperance was born in Kobe, Japan to a Japanese mother and a French Canadian-New Englander father and raised in Southern California, Guam, and Japan. Her full-length poetry collection The Darkened Temple was awarded a Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry and published by the University of Nebraska Press. An earlier collection Begin Here was awarded a Sarasota Poetry Theatre Press Chapbook Prize. With Tomás Q. Morín, she has co-edited Coming Close: Forty Essays on Philip Levine, published by Prairie Lights Books and distributed by the University of Iowa Press. You can find Mari online at

Updated September 2017

food en

Nikkei Chronicles #6—Itadakimasu 2!: Another Taste of Nikkei Culture

Calpis, Torikawa, and Yūrei: An Osaka Summer

Memories that inextricably tie together food, family, and childhood can be some of our most lasting and profound. Such memories and related sensations can surface from the depths at the slightest provocation, and via seemingly random sources. Which brings me to the notion that everything truly is connected, and perhaps increasingly so as we age, memories steep and deepen, and the long ago and faraway take on an otherworldly quality. One of my favorite films is Whisper of the Heart (Mimi wo Sumaseba 耳をすませば) and I never tire of watching it over and over. A 1995 Japanese anime directed by Kondo…

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culture en

Nikkei Uncovered: a poetry column


Happy 2017, everyone! With quite the gripping year behind us, I find myself needing to look ahead from a grounded place and in order to do so, I look to all kinds of conversations and all forms of art. To fill up on inspiration, in the way we filled up on delicious food at my mother’s home on New Years Day, is how I’ve chosen to begin this January. As we celebrated the beginning of Nikkei Uncovered with Nisei poet Hiroshi Kashiwagi and Sansei poet Amy Uyematsu as our inaugural poets to the column, I am happy to highlight a younger voice with a piece by Sean Miura, a Yonsei artist …

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identity en ja es pt

Betwixt and Between: Embracing the Borderlands of My Mixed Heritage

For weeks I resisted beginning work on this essay. Then, synchronistically, I encountered two pieces at Discover Nikkei that helped me get started. The first was Nancy Matsumoto’s excellent review (December 26, 2012) of Nikkei/Hapa psychologist Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu’s latest book When Half is Whole: Multiethnic Asian American Identities, and the second was a first-person essay (January 3, 2013) by Los Angeles-based food writer, soba maker/purveyor, and Common Grains founder Sonoko Sakai. In her review, Matsumoto writes that Murphy-Shigematsu’s lifework explores “t…

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