Discover Nikkei

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

1 Jun 2017 - 10 Oct 2017

How does the food you eat express your identity? How does food help to connect your community and bring people together? What kinds of recipes have been passed down from generation to generation in your family? Itadakimasu 2! Another Taste of Nikkei Culture revisited the role of food in Nikkei culture.

For this series, we asked our Nima-kai community to vote for their favorite stories and an editorial committee to pick their favorites. In total, four favorite stories were selected.

Here are the selected favorite stories.

  Editorial Committee’s Selections:

  Nima-kai selection:

To learn more about this writing project >>

Check out these other Nikkei Chronicles series >> 

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Stories from this series

Natto: A Love Story

Oct. 10, 2017 • Marsha Takeda-Morrison

I love natto. But it wasn’t always that way. My mom gave me my first taste when I was around seven or eight years old and it didn’t go well. I gagged and begged her for a cup of water to wash the bitter taste out of my mouth. “It’s good for you,” she said, but I swore right then that not a single, slimy, smelly bean would ever touch my lips again. Growing up, I put it on the …

Cabbage soup

Oct. 9, 2017 • Heriete Setsuko Shimabukuro Takeda

When Geró was hired to cook for my family, I had no idea of ​​the revolution it would cause in our lives. A native of Minas Gerais, a “hands-on” cook (as she introduced herself), she arrived with plans to please everyone with her wonderful recipes. He came across my mother, who was almost shameless when it came to determining menus. The situation deserves a brief history. There were nine of us then. Father, mother, six daughters and a very strong …

Yes, It Matters: Nisei Cuisine and Japanese American Identity

Oct. 6, 2017 • Tamio Spiegel

I have, for years, advocated the celebration and codification of a uniquely Japanese American culture of eating that I have come to refer to as “Nisei cuisine.” Nisei cuisine is the uniquely American food that developed as the “second generation” (first to be born in the USA) of Japanese Americans, generally considered to be those born between 1915 and 1940, came of age and, post-internment, moved throughout the United States, taking part in the development of the great post-war American …

Hello Again Feijoada

Oct. 4, 2017 • Masayuki Fukasawa

“I enjoyed it for the first time in three years.” In June, 2005, Makoto Oka, (age 66 at the time) chairperson of Brazil Okayama Kenjinkai (prefectural association) commented on the feijoada, a major Brazilian dish, with a face that showed his getting over some past woe. As a matter of fact, Oka almost died from a burn on his body when he turned over a giant pot of feijoada at the kenjinkai hall in the past. Feijoada, a local cuisine …


Oct. 2, 2017 • Hudson Okada

Even though I was still a child, I easily came to this conclusion: my maternal grandparents' house was so different from the others I knew – until then – that, when I was in it, it was as if I were on another plane. And there were several reasons for this impression: The adults – my grandparents, my parents and my uncles – only spoke to each other in Japanese. My ditchan 's newspapers and books were all written in …

Fried Chicken and Futomaki

Sept. 28, 2017 • Linda Cooper

In the documentary film Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight: The Japanese War Brides, Hiroko Tolbert says, “I’m completely American.” Her daughter Kathryn counters, “You know, it’s funny to say how American you are, yet every morning you make miso soup.” Hiroko giggles, “Well, the food is a different story,” she says, and she and her daughter both laugh…and it is. As we grow older, it seems, my best friend Brenda and I talk about food often. We are …

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Authors in This Series

Linda Cooper is a communications consultant and freelance writer with more than 30 years of experience as a public relations practitioner, U.S. Senate press aide and journalist. She holds a BA in journalism and political science from Mississippi University for Women. Cooper lives in Tennessee. Her best friend Brenda is a registered nurse at a medical research facility and lives nearby with her family.

Updated September 2019

Born on November 22, 1965, in Numazu City, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. In 1992, he went to Brazil for the first time and worked as an intern at Paulista Shimbun (Japanese newspaper in Brazil). In 1995, he went back to Japan and worked with Brazilians at a factory in Oizumi-machi, Gunma Prefecture. He wrote a book, Parallel World (Ushio Publishing) about his experiences there and received Ushio Nonfiction Award in 1999. He returned to Brazil in 1999. Beginning in 2001, he worked at Nikkey Shimbun and became the editor-in-chief in 2004. He has been an editor-in-chief of Diário Brasil Nippou since 2022. 

Updated January 2022

A Nisei native of Tupã, São Paulo State, he holds a Law degree, specializing in Labor Relations. Over the course of 50 years, he worked as an executive and entrepreneur​​ in the Human Resources field. A Business Consultant, he’s also a columnist for the newspaper Nippo Brasil.

Updated June 2017

A native of Paraná, with a History degree from the State University at Londrina (UEL) and an Education degree from the Center for Higher Studies of Londrina (CESULON), she’s a retired teacher from the city and state school system. Thanks to a grant from the Japanese government and the Brazilian Ministry of Education and Culture, she attended Hiroshima University from 1987–1989. She belongs to the staff of the Hikari Group of Londrina, whose mission is to keep Japanese culture alive; she works as the photo editor on their website.

Updated September 2016

Edna Horiuchi is a retired Los Angeles teacher. She volunteers at Florence Nishida’s teaching garden in South LA and is active at Senshin Buddhist Temple. She enjoys reading, tai chi, and going to opera.

Updated June 2023

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

Iraci Megumi Nagoshi was born in São Paulo in 1952. She is the youngest daughter of Masaru and Miyoko Fujisaka. Although her father died while she was still a baby—1 year and 8 months old—she had a very happy childhood and adolescence. In addition to her brother Luiz, she has two sisters, Amália and Noemia, and many Oni-chans and One-chans—i.e., Dona Miyoko’s boarders.

Updated September 2017

Kohei Ohsawa was born on May 3, 1990, in Toshima Ward, Tokyo. In 2013, he graduated from the Sophia University with a degree from the department of Portuguese Studies in the Faculty of Foreign Studies. In 2016, he went to Brazil for the first time and is currently on training at Nikkey Shimbun.

Updated December 2017

Udê, a.k.a. Hudson Okada, was born in the city of Matão, São Paulo, on Aug. 2, 1979. Since 2005, he lives in the city of São Paulo’s Liberdade district. He is part of the Jornal Nippak team of collaborators. As a writer, he has won several literary contests – including an honorable second place in Brazil’s Sesc-DF Prize for Literature, in the short stories category.

Updated July 2016

A native of Arapongas, Paraná, she has a Business Administration degree from the State University of Londrina (UEL). She is responsible for the administration of the website and fanpage of a wholesale jewelry and costume jewelry company in Londrina, taking photographs and producing videos to be posted on these sites. She participates in coordination of the Ishindaiko Group of Londrina (taiko). She is a staff member at the Hikari Group of Londrina, whose aim is to keep Japanese culture alive. She is responsible for the filming, production, and video editing on their site.

Updated June 2018

Roberto Oshiro Teruya is a 53-year-old Peruvian of the third generation (Sansei); his parents, Seijo Oshiro and Shizue Teruya, both came from Okinawa (Tomigusuku and Yonabaru, respectively). He lives in Lima, the capital of Peru, where he works in the retail clothing business in the city's downtown. He is married to Jenny Nakasone and they have two children Mayumi (23) and Akio (14). He has a deep interest in continuing to preserve the customs inculcated by his grandparents, including cuisine and the butsudan, and hopes his children will do the same.

Updated June 2017

Chico Pascoal is from the town of Cratéus, in the Northeastern state of Ceará. He was a finalist chronicler in the 1st Bunkyo Story Contest and in the 1st Script Road Literary Contest in Macau, China. In 2015, he was one of the qualified contestants in the SESC-DF Monteiro Lobato Story Contest. He also contributed to the short story collection Two Scenes, a Wall? and other stories.

Updated September 2017

Tamio Spiegel is a bi-racial Japanese American native New Yorker. He is an independent consultant who has advised businesses in Asia and the US on manufacturing, product development, and cross-Pacific trading. He is a past Executive Director of The Gohan Society, a New York City-based non-profit organization that promotes Japanese food and food culture. He has written on arts and current affairs for NY NichibeiAsianWeek, and Nikkei Heritage.

Updated October 2017

Heriete Setsuko Shimabukuro Takeda, 61, a descendant of Okinawans, was born and lives in the city of São Paulo. She is married and is the mother of two children. Now retired, she uses her writing to rescue memories and reach horizons.

Updated October 2018

Marsha Takeda-Morrison is a writer and art director living in Los Angeles who drinks way too much coffee. Her writing has been published in the Los Angeles Times, Parents, Genlux, Niche,, and other lifestyle, education, and parenting publications. She also covers pop culture and has interviewed the likes of Paris Hilton, Jessica Alba, and Kim Kardashian. While she spends a lot of time in Hollywood she has never had plastic surgery, given birth to an actor’s child, or been on a reality show. Yet.

Updated May 2023

Don Tanaka is a retired air-conditioning service tech of 38 years, during which he distinguished himself as a union officer and the Director of Air Conditioning and Refrigeration for Southern Calif., with 2000 service members in Southern Calif. He became a member of APALA (Asian Pacific American labor Alliance) protecting immigrant workers rights. He volunteers at the Japanese American National Museum and Keiro. He also volunteers on a committee called WHPA, (Western HVAC Performance Alliance). They are the eyes and ears for the CPUC and CEC to help provide input on energy efficiency air conditioning equipment. 

Updated August 2017

Chuck Tasaka is the grandson of Isaburo and Yorie Tasaka. Chuck’s father was 4th in a family of 19. Chuck was born in Midway, B.C., and grew up in Greenwood, B.C. until he graduated from high school. Chuck attended University of B.C. and graduated in 1968. After retirement in 2002, he became interested in Nikkei history. (Profile photo courtesy of Nelson photographer)

Updated October 2015

Sansei whose paternal and maternal grandparents were from the town of Yonabaru, Okinawa. She now works as a freelance translator (English/Spanish) and blogger at Jiritsu, where she shares personal stories and research on Japanese immigration to Peru and related topics.

Updated December 2017

Born in Bebedouro, in São Paulo, Brazil, she has a Nursing degree from the University of São Paulo (USP). She worked as a professor at the State University of Londrina (UEL) until her retirement in 2010. She currently belongs to the staff of UEL’s FM Radio program “Tecer Idades” for this age group. She works as a volunteer in projects related to the field of aging, and she is a member of the board of directors of the "House of Support to the Family of Elderly Bedridden" in Londrina. She is a staff member at the Hikari Group of Londrina, whose aim is to keep Japanese culture alive. She is responsible for both the production and the written content of their site.

Updated June 2018

Susan Yamamura was born in Seattle, WA in 1940. She and her family were sent to Camp Harmony, WA and Camp Minidoka, ID. She graduated from the University of Washington, Seattle, in 1962. She first worked as a computer programmer at Space Technology Labs in Redondo Beach, CA and later at the Boeing Co in Seattle. Susan retired from managing a computer and graphics lab in the Chemistry Department at the University of Arizona in 1997.

She had a son with Hank Yamamura; Hank passed away in 2008. She currently lives in Tucson, Arizona.

Updated April 2020

Danielle Yuki Yang is an LA native currently living in the Bay Area studying English at UC Berkeley. She enjoys reading, writing, painting, hiking, baking, and travelling, and of course participating in Japanese American programs and working with Asian American organizations. In the past she has taken part in the Yonsei Basketball Association, Japanese American Optimist Club, and the Rising Stars Program, and has worked with the Go For Broke National Education Center, as well as the Japanese American National Museum. She hopes to continue her writing recreationally or as a contributor to Discover Nikkei as she pursues a possible career in healthcare.

Updated July 2017