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

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 >>

identity en

What Tribe You From, Brother?

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.”


“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 Indian.”

“Indian? We’re not either. Those guys live in India. We’re not from India.”

“I mean Indian American.”

“Native American, …

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community en ja es pt


I’ve loved reading since I was little and would find myself drawn to characters in each story. The powerful “Momotaro” and peculiar White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, to name a few. They were all adorable characters.

Once I entered middle school and high school, I was surprised by the complex personality of Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights. I also encountered a lot of interesting protagonists in Brazilian and Portuguese literature which I majored in college.

But the person I’ve been most impressed by has been Kokichi-san. While other characters have been written in the imagination of authors, Kokichi-san …

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identity en

Memory Says

Nearly every year my husband remembers that we got married on October the 24, 1998. We did not. Stereotypes aside, I, as the woman, and hence the one with the better memory, know for a fact that it was October the 17th, 1998, as I did nearly everything for the wedding. This is not something to be proud of; it is my biggest indictment. And it was my biggest mistake on all cultural fronts—I will get to that.

I remember the date clearly because I used beautiful Japanese purple silk kimono material around sage, clove, nutmeg, citrus, and cinnamon potpourri …

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identity en ja es pt

Snapshots from a Nikkei/Filipina Album

“Your mother is Filipina?” my friend’s mom asks me. She’s Filipina, too. She shakes her head, and smiles, not unkindly. “You look more Japanese.”

* * * * *

My first and last name are Japanese. None of my names are Filipina. But then there’s the color of my skin, which in the Pacific Northwest is “a nice tan.” I know how to make turón, lumpia, and adobo. I can make chicken teriyaki “from scratch,” with a closely guarded family recipe. I could order my way through a Goldilocks’ lunch counter or a teriyaki lunch menu. I went …

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identity en

A Hapa Girl In Vietnam

I’m currently carrying out a Fulbright English Teaching Fellowship in Northern Vietnam. When I sit down to meals with my students, they are always surprised at my skill with chopsticks. I try to explain to them in broken Vietnamese: cha tôi là người Mỹ gốc Phi, mẹ tôi là Mỹ gốc Nhật. My father is African-American. My mother is Japanese-American. I’ve been using chopsticks since the day I was born. This always draws a wide-eyed smile of exhilaration across my student’s faces, as if I’ve shared some great secret with them.

In some ways I have. I self identify …

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Brazil buddhism california Chronicles colonia community crenshaw culture family filipina filipino food hafu hapa identity Japan manzanar marriage memory Mixed nikkei Nikkei Chronicles nikkei-plus photographs prewar