Mia Nakaji Monnier

Mia Nakaji Monnier is a writer in Los Angeles. Her journalism and essays have appeared in BuzzFeed News, Shondaland, The Washington Post, and more. She started her career in Little Tokyo at Discover Nikkei and The Rafu Shimpo. You can find her on Twitter @miagabb and read more of her work at mianakajimonnier.com.

Updated May 2021

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The Pond - Part 2

>> Part 1After a train ride, another bus ride, and a five-minute walk, I was in front of Auntie Junko’s house. She lived in a one-story stucco house separated by a short flight of stairs from the sidewalk. Her front yard was divided, a miniature grove of five or six citrus trees in the grass near the street hiding a rock garden closer to the house. In the rocks by the door sat a ceramic sculpture of a chubby raccoon-looking creature with a toothy smile and huge balls. Some kind of Japanese luck thing, though I didn’t remember what it was called. I rang the doorbell and waite…

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The Pond - Part 1

It was just before Christmas when I went to Auntie Junko and Uncle Bill’s house on my own for the first time. I got to the bus stop around nine to wait for the 9:15 bus to Downtown. Because it’s L.A., people always assume the buses will be late. It’s when they aren’t that they surprise you, and I didn’t really feel like waiting an hour in the rain for the next one. As I sat on the bench counting my change, I watched BMWs and Mercedes turn out of the Chevron station and head down the hill, probably toward offices downtown. An older Hispanic woman carrying a plasti…

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Eric Nakamura Reflects on "Giant Robot Biennale 2: 15 Years"

In 1994, Eric Nakamura and co-founder Martin Wong put together the first issue of Giant Robot Magazine, then a photocopied publication, filled with Asian-inspired pop culture finds. Fifteen years later, Giant Robot has become a success story with shops in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York—and an additional gallery and restaurant in L.A. Giant Robot has evolved to be more than a magazine or even a shop, but rather a culture, a lifestyle. On October 24, 2009, following the successful 2007 exhibition Giant Robot Biennale: 50 Issues, the second Giant Robot Biennale opened at the…

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A Great American Life

In the spring of 1945, a young man showed up at Walt Disney Studios hoping to find a job in their animation department. He brought with him no experience to speak of, but a “portfolio” consisting of two notepads bought at the five-and-dime store, filled with drawings. The other men in the Disney waiting room with him were older, and carried large, impressive, black leather portfolios, but in the end, it was the inexperienced, young man who was taken in and given a job. This man, the 20-year-old Iwao Takamoto, began at Disney as an “in-betweener,” filling in the gaps be…

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