David Toyoshima

David Kiyoshi Toyoshima is a 4th generation Japanese American. He is a veteran award-winning advertising creative director, writer, art director and illustrator. He was written and published short essays for KPCC National Public Radio and Discover Nikkei.

Updated November 2014

food en

Far East Memories

Few places truly define the Japanese American experience in Southern California than “Chinameshi” and the Far East Cafe on First Street in Little Tokyo. “Chinameshi,” chop suey, old style Cantonese—a style of cuisine that is truly American. Like pizza, it was “ethnic food” that was tailored to American tastes. Stuff that didn’t exist in the old country. The Far East “flavor” was in many ways uniquely Japanese American. Chinese American immigrants came together with Japanese American immigrants to create dishes that became the stu…

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identity en

Nikkei Chronicles #3—Nikkei Names: Taro, John, Juan, João?

What’s In a Name? For Me, Someone Liked Ike

All parents ruminate on what to name their child. They go through baby-naming books. Suggestions from family and friends. Fads of the day. Boy, girl, the process is nearly ceaseless. Sleepless nights. And even after the baby is born, there are still days, perhaps weeks that go by with nary a name but the sex of the child. I have the extra benefit of being Japanese American. Traditionally, many third and fourth generation JAs had a Japanese middle name. It was optional. A number of my cousins did not. My mom wanted a girl. She professed to me as an adult that she always wanted a girl (yeah,…

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community en

Three Letter Word

I’m not one to pry into a Facebook friend of a friend post, but the other day I felt compelled to. A longtime female friend had posted a photograph of a street scene in Tokyo. She was there on business. In it, there was a Krispy Kreme shop. In the comment section, a male “friend” of hers posted, “Where you at? That ain’t no Japan. Them Japs don’t eat no Krispy Kremes.” Or something to that effect. “Japs?” I had to file a complaint. This Caucasian “friend” (and I use that loosely. My female friend sent me a text apologizin…

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migration en


“I like to be in America!O.K. by me in America!Ev’rything free in America!For a small fee in America!” Immigration. There’s so much debate. For and against. Passion. Compassion. Fear and anger. Some calling for the inscription on the Statue of Liberty erased. Immigrants are what made this country great. I am a grandson of immigrants. My generation is the first in my family to ever attend and finish college. My grandfather on my father’s side came from Hiroshima. So did my grandmother on my mother’s side. (My grandmother on my dad’s side was born…

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identity en

The Pencil Box

I think most people have a collection of odds and ends they keep as old keepsakes from their parents or grandparents. Heirlooms of long forgotten nostalgia gathering dust in a drawer or in an old shoebox. Blurry reminders of things past, whether they are happy or sad moments. When I was only six years old, my mother gave me her old pencil box from when she was a child. Perhaps paralleling my age. Her grandmother gave it to her as a birthday gift. Like me, my mother liked to draw, and was in fact a fairly good artist. She always wanted to be a commercial artist when she was younger, but he…

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