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

For many Nikkei around the world, food is often the strongest and most lasting connection they have with their culture. Across generations, language and traditions are often lost, but their connections to food remain.

Discover Nikkei collected stories from around the world related to the topic of Nikkei food culture and its impact on Nikkei identity and communities. This series introduces these stories. 

 Our Editorial Committee selected their favorite stories in each language. Here are their favorites:

To learn more about this writing project >>

Check out these other Nikkei Chronicles series >>

food en

Loose Sushi

Standing in the kitchen grinding on bright yellow takuan straight out of the container takes me right back to my grandparents’ house in Palolo Valley, an older, predominantly Japanese-American neighborhood on the island of Oahu. Palolo was one of the few sections of Honolulu I knew of where there were “projects.” When the song “Electric Avenue” became a hit, we kids changed the lyrics to: “We gonna walk down to Palolo Avenue, and then we’ll take your tires.” It wasn’t unusual to see a car parked on the side of the road almost completely stripped.

Growing up in Honolulu, I …

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food en

Spam: It’s What’s For Dinner. No, Really.

Today I’m going to talk about Spam. I’m not talking about the kind in your online mailbox, I’m talking about the canned meat.

Hey, where’d everybody go?

Now that everyone, save for a few adventurous souls and the Asians, have left the room let me tell you about one of my favorite family traditions, Spam musubi, (pronounced moo-soo-bee), a kind of sushi concoction made out of Spam, rice, and seaweed.

Hey look—now only the Asians are still here.

Sure, being Japanese-American, everyone expects that my family tradition would be along the lines of a complex fish recipe handed down to …

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food en

Gohan o Kudasai – Immersed in Japanese Food

In the Northern woods of Minnesota the call of a loon echoes on the lake. The wind rustles through a forest of birch trees. And at a summer camp in the dining hall, an enthusiastic group of kids call out “itadakimasu,” before digging into dinner. The sign on the building says shokudo in English, hiragana, and kanji.

Mori no Ike is the Japanese language and culture immersion summer program of the Concordia Language Villages. From the moment that the campers arrive at Mori no Ike they are spoken to in Japanese. They select a Japanese name …

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food en

Homemade Miso Soup

If you have been to a Japanese restaurant in the United States, you probably have been served a warm, salty, light brown miso soup. Sometimes it will have thinly sliced scallions floating in the broth. Sometimes there will be miniature cubes of tofu hidden in the depths below the particles of miso suspended in the broth. It is offered more as an afterthought, usually before a meal of overly large portions of protein or sushi.

My daughter, Elizabeth, came back from Japan this spring with a revelation—Japanese miso soup is nothing like the miso soup you get in a Japanese …

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food en ja es pt

Grandma’s Pickles Story: Sharing Grandma’s Rakkyo with the World

1) The Homemade flavor of grandma’s tsukemono

Currently, a wide variety of Japanese food items can be found at Japanese super markets in America. Amongst them are tsukemono (Japanese pickled vegetables) which can be found in multiple styles, from asazuke (lightly pickled vegetables) to nukazuke (vegetables pickled in brine and fermented rice bran), using various vegetables such as ginger, cucumber, Chinese cabbage, and Japanese leeks.

In addition to the goods exported from Japan, nowadays we are starting to see local Japanese food manufacturers producing tsukemono and selling them under a private brand. The flavor of the tsukemono, although slightly …

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asian market california food hapa hawaii honolulu identity Itadakimasu japanese language language me minnesota miso misoshiru Mori no Ike Musubi nikkei Nikkei Chronicles rakkyo recipe rice sacramento Spam summer camp sushi