Jeri Okamoto Tanaka

Jeri Okamoto Tanaka is a third-generation Japanese American whose parents were born and raised in rural Wyoming.  Her writing is inspired by family history, her childhood in Colorado, Nevada, Montana, Oregon, and California, and her experiences as an adoptive mother and community volunteer.  She serves on the Little Tokyo Service Center board and is the Advisor & Parent Coordinator for the China Care Bruins Youth Mentorship Program at UCLA.  She resides in Los Angeles.  Her writing has appeared in Adoptive Families magazine, Guidepost's Joys of Christmas, The Sun, Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review, Journal of Families with Children from China, OCA Image, UCLA Chinese Cultural Dance Dragonfly Quarterly, China Care Foundation's Care Package, and the book Kicking in the Wall:  A Year of Writing Exercises, Prompts & Quotes to Help You Break Through Your Blocks and Reach Your Writing Goals.

Updated September 2015 

identity en ja es pt

Nikkei Chronicles #4—Nikkei Family: Memories, Traditions, and Values

Walk It Off: True Grit & Gaman

“Walk it off.” When I was growing up, that was my father’s solution for almost every problem: A fight with my younger brother? Go outside. Walk it off. Got a headache or a stomach ache? Walk it off. Nervous about starting a new school? Can’t figure out your homework? Walk it off. Although I didn’t understand it then, this mantra had propelled my father through life and would one day save him and become a life lesson for me.

My Japanese American father, who once stood tall at a stocky 5'8" with broad shoulders and thick black wavy hair, embodies …

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Nikkei Chronicles #2—Nikkei+: Stories of Mixed Language, Traditions, Generations & Race

Gohan & Good Fortune -- Adopting a New Year and New Traditions

Akemashita Omedetou. 
Xin Nian Kuai Le. 
Happy New Year & Auld Lang Syne. 

This is how we welcome the new year in our Japanese, Chinese, and Irish American family. I am a third-generation Japanese American Sansei with roots in the Rocky Mountains. My husband’s Irish American forebears journeyed to the Pacific Northwest across the Oregon Trail and he grew up in the Los Angeles San Fernando Valley. Our two daughters are first generation Chinese Americans, who joined our family through international adoption, traveling from China to Southern California cradled in our arms. Over the years, we’ve personalized our Nikkei-plus …

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

Grandpa Tanaka's Pilgrim Stuffing

Thanksgiving is the quintessential American holiday, but, as a young Sansei, I didn’t believe there was any connection between my Japanese family and the Mayflower pilgrims who colonized New England.

I grew up in the West in the 1960s and ’70s, often in towns without much diversity, where I didn’t feel very pilgrim-like or “American,” that is, Caucasian. I secretly longed to wear the pilgrim’s black dress and white apron with ringlets under my bonnet. Instead, looking more like Squanto and Pocahontas, I was cast as the noble “Indian” in school pageants—wearing my long hair in two braids, with …

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