Discover Nikkei

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

May 28, 2013 - Dec. 6, 2013

Being Nikkei is inherently a state of mixed traditions and cultures. For many Nikkei communities and families around the world, it is common to use both chopsticks and forks; mix Japanese words with Spanish; or celebrate the New Year’s Eve countdown with champagne and Oshogatsu with ozoni and other Japanese traditions.

This series introduces stories explore how Nikkei around the world perceive and experience being multiracial, multinational, multilingual, and multigenerational.

Each piece submitted to the Nikkei+ anthology was eligible for selection as our readers’ favorites. 

Here are their favorite stories in each language.

To learn more about this writing project >>

Check out these other Nikkei Chronicles series >>

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Stories from this series

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

Nov. 26, 2013 • Jeri Okamoto Tanaka

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 …

Thumbnail for A Japanese Chief
A Japanese Chief

Nov. 19, 2013 • Seitoku Shimabukuro , Luis Takanobu Shimabukuro

Yamato Taba arrived to Peru in 1921 from Okinawa, Japan, to harvest cotton in the Cañete area, 150 km south from Lima, the capital of Peru. At the end of his contract which he completed with great sacrifices, Yamato and his wife rented a little parcel of land where they grew vegetables and had sold their products in the town of Cañete and other locations. In a few years, they had saved enough money to be able to purchase the …

Thumbnail for Diary of a Mad Hapa Judo Girl
Diary of a Mad Hapa Judo Girl

Nov. 13, 2013 • Chanda Ishisaka

Being a martial artist was not supposed to be a part of my life. The plan for me was to focus on school and get good grades. But my dad asked my younger brother to learn judo when he was five years old and I became jealous. I asked my father if I could join. He said that I could but with the condition that I had to stay in judo until I received a black belt. At this time, …

Thumbnail for Two Scenes, One Wall?
Two Scenes, One Wall?

Nov. 11, 2013 • Célia Sakurai

That was too much, thought Mrs. K. Not even Bira gave any warning! She didn’t reply, saying only: “I’ll go check it out.” Confusing the smell of boiled daikon with that of a gas leak made her heart twist in her chest, in embarrassment, perhaps. As if all those times hadn’t been enough, when, from the kitchen door, she would say: “What a weird smell!” It was on Wednesdays that Mrs. K left a whole pile of daikon-flavored tsukemono ready …

Thumbnail for Sammy's Shitkickers
Sammy's Shitkickers

Nov. 8, 2013 • Sakae Manning

I began to beat Sammy with his own leg braces, polished by mama to a new money shine, around the time people stopped looking at me, their eyes resting on Sammy, listening to his hospital stories, admiring his scars, a mountain range, crawling, stitch by stitch calf to heel. I would knock him in the head with his own hard, thick-soled boots. “Siblings do that sort of thing,” daddy once said as he puffed on a well-chewed pipe, smoke connecting …

Thumbnail for What Tribe You From, Brother?
What Tribe You From, Brother?

Nov. 6, 2013 • Lily Yuriko Nakai Havey

When my son Michael was in high school he was approached by a group of young Navajo men who asked him, “What tribe you from, brother?” “Tribe?” he replied, puzzled. “You look like a Dine from Shiprock.” “Shiprock?” “Yeh, you know, you guys from Shit Rock.” When they slowly started toward him he backed away. “I’m not from Shiprock. I don’t even know where that is,” he said. “Don’t know your own nation, brother?” “You’ve made a mistake. I’m not …

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Authors in This Series

Gil Asakawa is a journalist, editor, author, and blogger who covers Japan, Japanese American and Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) culture and social justice issues in blogs, articles, and social media. He is a nationally-known speaker, panelist, and expert on Japanese American and Asian American history and identity. He’s the author of Being Japanese American (Stone Bridge Press) and his next book, Tabemasho! Let’s Eat! (Stone Bridge Press), a history of Japanese food in America which will be published in 2022. His blog:

Updated January 2022

Francesca Biller is an award winning investigative journalist, political satirist, author, and social commentator for print, radio, and television. With a background of Japanese and Jewish, she writes about her interesting background in both an introspective and humorous way and her work has been been published for The Huffington Post, CNN, The Los Angeles Times, The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, and many other publications. Awards include The Edward R. Murrow award, two Golden Mike awards, and four Society of Professional Journalists awards for Excellence in Journalism. Biller is currently writing three books, the first a novel about the 442nd Infantry set in Hawaii, the second a compilation of humorous essays about growing up as a Japanese Jew in Los Angeles during the 1970s, and the third a Lifestyle book about how a diet of Hawaiian, Japanese, and Jewish food keeps her family healthy and happy. She is also currently on a national radio tour discussing her humorous take on politics, pop culture, and families.

Updated June 2012

Jackson Bliss is the winner of the 2020 Noemi Press Award in Prose and the mixed-race/hapa author of Counterfactual Love Stories & Other Experiments (Noemi Press, 2021), Amnesia of June Bugs (7.13 Books, 2022), Dream Pop Origami (Unsolicited Press, 2022), and the speculative fiction hypertext, Dukkha, My Love (2017).  His short stories and essays have appeared in the New York Times, Tin House, Ploughshares, Guernica, Antioch Review, ZYZZYVA, Longreads, TriQuarterly, Columbia Journal, Kenyon Review, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Witness, Fiction, Santa Monica Review, Boston Review, Juked, Quarterly West, Arts & Letters, Joyland, Huffington Post UK, and Multiethnic Literature in the US, among others.  He is the Distinguished Visiting Writing at Bowling Green State University and lives in Los Angeles with his wife and their two fashionably dressed dogs.  Follow him on Twitter: @jacksonbliss

Updated September 2021

Nicholas Braun is a Nikkei Sansei Ainoko from Chicago, IL. He is a Man of Little Means. Yet He longs to be welcome into the bosom of His Brother and Sister Nipponjin and Nikkeijin.

Updated October 2013 

Tani Mitsui Brown is a Fulbright Fellow currently carrying out her Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Vietnam during the 2013-2014 academic year. She is a 2010 graduate of Princeton University where she studied Religion and African-American Studies and captained the Women's Varsity Basketball Team. Tani is also a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post College section. Tani's family resides in Southern California, where she first learned how to play basketball with the Venice Rockets.

Updated October 2013 

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

Dorothy Yumi Garcia, an artist, cultural worker, and educator, has taught and supervised in public and private schools and universities for forty years. Garcia has documented hundreds of stories through the use of persona dolls, a multimedia storytelling vehicle, in diverse settings including AIDS hospices, juvenile detention centers, Japanese universities, and South African townships. In 2003 Garcia co-founded Art Aids Art, a nonprofit organization promoting education and sustainable economic development through the arts. Based in South Africa, the organization has established a multipurpose community center in Khayelitsha, near Cape Town, to serve as an oasis for women coping with the trauma of poverty, domestic violence and the HIV/AIDS crisis. To date, her daughter Chloe is her most satisfying work-in-progress. 

Updated September 2013 

Obtained her MBA from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Shailder College of Business. Her field of research was municipal administration. Researched community development of Moiliili district in Honolulu. Her master’s dissertation was based on the formation of organizations and cultural succession at the Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji, Hawaii Honpa Hongwanji Mission. She was enthusiastically involved with the activities of the Buddhist Women’s Association and other Nikkei community events during her time as a student. Hobbies include postage stamp collection and custom-making rubber stamps/seals.

Updated January 2022 

As the 2013 Nikkei Community Intern, I will be working for the Japanese American Bar Association (JABA) and the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) this summer. My work at JANM consists primarily of contributing articles, events, and albums to the Discover Nikkei website; my work with JABA involves the JABA Legacy project which serves to preserve and promote the fabled legends of prominent Nikkei jurists.

Updated July 2013 

Born in Los Angeles, incarcerated at Amache, educated in Boston and Utah, Lily currently lives in Salt Lake City with husband John. She taught school for 13 years and had a stained glass business for more than three decades from which she is semi-retired. She is a watercolor artist and has written a creative autobiography “Gasa Gasa Girl Goes to Camp: A Nisei Youth Behind a World War II Fence,” which will be published by the University of Utah Press in the spring of 2014.

Updated August 2012

Born in São Paulo, Brazil in 1947. Worked in the field of education until 2009. Since then, she has dedicated herself exclusively to literature, writing essays, short stories and novels, all from a Nikkei point of view.

She grew up listening to Japanese children's stories told by her mother. As a teenager, she read the monthly issue of Shojo Kurabu, a youth magazine for girls imported from Japan. She watched almost all of Ozu's films, developing a great admiration for Japanese culture all her life.

Updated May 2023

Chanda Ishisaka was born and raised in Monterey Park, California located in Los Angeles County. She is a mixed race Yonsei, fourth generation Japanese and Mexican American. She lived in Seattle, Washington for six years where she happily was involved in the Japanese community and served on the Minidoka Pilgrimage Planning Committee to organize the annual pilgrimage to the former WWII incarceration camp Minidoka in Idaho. She currently resides in Orange County, California.

Updated November 2014

Sakae Manning has published poetry in anthologies including Making Waves: An Anthology of Writings by and about Asian American Women (Asian Women United), as well as short stories including Sammy's Shitkickers, which was previously published by The Salt River Review. She is an alumnus of Mills College and the U.S.C. Annenberg School of Communications and resides in Southern California with her family.

Updated November 2013 

Originally from the UK, Meher McArthur is a freelance Asian art historian, author and educator based in Los Angeles. Her current exhibition Folding Paper: The Infinite Possibilities of Origami is touring the US until the end of 2016. She worked for many years as Curator of East Asian Art at Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena, and has collaborated with several Southern California museums and advised for the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Her books include Reading Buddhist Art: An Illustrated Guide to Buddhist Signs and Symbols (Thames & Hudson, 2002), The Arts of Asia: Materials, Techniques, Styles (Thames & Hudson, 2005),Confucius: A Throneless King (Pegasus Books, 2011), and An ABC of What Art Can Be (The Getty Museum, 2010) for kids. She has also written for The V&A Magazine, The Royal Academy Magazine and Fabrik.

Updated December 2012 

Okinawan American Susan Miyagi McCormac is a New York-based writer who started the website JapanCulture•NYC in May 2011 as a resource for all things Japanese in New York City. She also blogs about her Okinawan heritage and her fascination with Japanese culture at

Updated March 2012

Born on January 1, 1944 in Paraguay Paulista as the eldest son of Miyamura Tokimitsu and Toshiko. He studied Japanese in his childhood in Apucarana, North Paraná. In 1967, he graduated from the Faculty of Engineering at the National University of Paraná. In 1968, he joined NEC Brazil, and retired in 2001. That same year, he became independent and developed a new recycling industry. He and his wife, Alice Kayoko, have one son (Douglas Hidehiro) and one daughter (Erika Hiromi). In 2005, he published a collection of essays titled "An Encounter That Was So Far Away," which he submitted to the São Paulo Newspaper and other publications. His hobby is reading historical books.

(Updated January 2013)

At 94, Ed Moreno has accumulated nearly seventy years of service in media- broadcast, newsprint, and magazines. Ed has received a number of accolades for his work, as writer, editor and translator. His torrid love affair with Japanese culture began in 1951 and it seems it will never cool off. He is currently writing a column on Japanese-Nikkei cultural and historical topics for the “Newsette,” the monthly organ of the East San Gabriel Valley Japanese Community Center, in West Covina, CA. Before its demise, The East magazine (Tokyo) published some of his original works.  He also writes for “Transactions, the Journal of the prestigious Asiatic Society of Japan”

Updated May 2015

Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu is a Japanese/American multicultural psychologist and author specializing in understanding and illuminating issues of diversity and identity in nations, organizations, families, and individuals. He is Consulting Professor in the Stanford School of Medicine, and on the faculties of Stanford's Center for Comparative Studies of Race and Ethnicity and Fielding Graduate University. He is the author of When Half is Whole: Multiethnic Asian American Identities (Stanford University Press, 2012) and Synergy, Healing, and Empowerment: Insights from Cultural Diversity (with Richard Katz) (Brush Education, 2012).

Updated January 2013 

Lora Nakamura is a fourth generation Japanese American and Los Angeles native, with a background in education and social work.  She received her B.A. in Spanish Literature from the University of California, San Diego, her teaching credential from Cal State L.A., and her Masters in Social Work from Cal State Long Beach. She is the author and illustrator of The Bonsai Babes: A Love Story, which depicts the unique overlaps seen in love relationships. The book tells the tale of a Mexican American girl and a Japanese American girl who come to co-exist on a Los Angeles playground. Their space of intersection, although unique to them, is universal to those who have ever felt an unlikely connection or who have simply experienced love in their lives.

TWITTER: @thebonsaibabes 
FACEBOOK:  The Bonsai Babes
Website is 

Updated October 2013

Fifty-three-year-old Brazilian Nisei from Mogi das Cruzes, holding a degree in architecture from the University of São Paulo, and Masters in Architectural History from the University of Hiroshima. He has worked at the Japanese businesses YKK, Toyota Tsusho, and Asahi Bank, and since 2003 has held the post of Bunkyo’s Administrative Secretary General.

Updated September 2013 

Tamiko Nimura is an Asian American writer living in Tacoma, Washington. Her training in literature and American ethnic studies (MA, PhD, University of Washington) prepared her to research, document, and tell the stories of people of color. She has been writing for Discover Nikkei since 2008.

Tamiko just published her first book, Rosa Franklin: A Life in Health Care, Public Service, and Social Justice (Washington State Legislature Oral History Program, 2020). Her second book is a co-written graphic novel, titled We Hereby Refuse: Japanese American Resistance to Wartime Incarceration (Chin Music Press/Wing Luke Asian Museum). She is working on a memoir called PILGRIMAGE.

Updated November 2020

James Ong is currently a second year MA student in the Asian American Studies Program at UCLA. His research project and focus in this program is on multiethnicity in Asian American communities, specifically the Japanese American experience. The goal of this project is to illuminate what he calls a “double process of racialization”; using both micro and macro narratives, he will demonstrate how multiethnics are “othered” by inconsistent parameters of “ethnic normativity” which inconsistently shift between hereditary and cultural notions of acceptability. While the positionality of “other” is not inherently negative, based on many past and present framings of “ethnic identity,” they are consistently seen “different,” as prepetually “a-part” and “apart” from ethnic communities. Thus, the potential for prejudice and a level of ostracism is inherently present. This is indicative of how ingrained and institutionalized social and political systems of racism are in our daily lives. The persistence of 'monoethnic' paradigms in scholarly discourse, legal policies, educational systems, and daily vernacular perpetuates tropes of “racial purity” that occlude the agency of multiethnic individuals, resulting in varying levels of physical and psychological violence.

Updated October 2013 

Mina Otsuka is a Japanese translator and writer. She earned a BA in Literary Journalism from the University of California, Irvine. Besides work and occasional translation projects, she enjoys listening to music (of any kind) and playing the guitar.

Updated November 2014 

Célia Sakurai is a researcher on the history of Japanese immigration in Brazil. She is the author of Romanceiro da Imigração Japonesa (Collection of Stories About Japanese Immigration) (1993), Imigração e Política (Immigration and Politics) (1995), “Imigração Tutelada. Os japoneses no Brasil (Overseen Immigration. The Japanese in Brazil)” (2000 – doctoral thesis at Unicamp [University of Campinas, São Paulo State]), Os Japoneses (The Japanese) (2007), in addition to several articles, and “Two Scenes, One Wall?” – winning story in the 2013 Bunkyo Story Contest, which was published on Discover Nikkei on November 11, 2013.

Updated June 2017

Luis Takanobu Shimabukuro was born in Peru in 1946; he is the youngest son of Seitoku Shimabukuro. He has a degree in Agricultural Engineering and earned a Master's degree in Business Administration in Lima, Peru. Between 2008-2012, he lived in the Amazon region, where, based on his father's autobiography found inAmazon Sanka (1974), stories of his parents and his brothers. He is currently editing the text so as to have it published in Spanish. The title of he book will be "Descubriendo Amazonia (Discovering the Amazon)."

Updated November 2013

Seitoku Shimabukuro was a businessman and a Japanese language teacher. He was condecorated by the government of Japan in 1977. He was born in Okinawa and went to Peru in 1920. In 1956, he moved to the Amazon. He wrote several books in Japanese, including Amazon Sanka published in 1974. He passed away in 1982.  

Updated November 2013 

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

Roxzana Sudo is an English teacher currently living in San Diego, California. She lived in Hamamatsu, Japan from 1995 until 2000, where she met her “Gaucho” Nikkei Brazilian husband, Regis Sudo. In 2001 the pair moved back to his home state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, where they lived for eight years and where their now eight year-old son was born. She has a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology and an M.A. in English and American Literature. Roxzana enjoys writing about her multi-cultural family and her varied experiences in education and abroad. 

Updated October 2013 

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 

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

Discover Nikkei Updates

Nikkei Names 2: Grace, Graça, Graciela, Megumi?
What’s in a name? Share the story of your name with our community. Submissions now open!
Episode 16
June 25 (US) | June 26 (Japan)
Featured Nima:
Stan Kirk
Guest Host:
Yoko Murakawa
See exciting new changes to Discover Nikkei. Find out what’s new and what’s coming soon!