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

Living in the Overlap

Two years ago, I met a Mexican American man and this meeting would change my life forever. We were from two different worlds, yet we still found the intersection where those two worlds overlapped, a special place created just for us. And in that place, we were not labels. He was not a Mexican American and I was not a Japanese American. We were greater than that. We were simply limitless potential.

One week ago, I met a Korean American man, and I feel my life changing yet again. He has his own world of experience, both exhilarating and painful, …

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identity en

Japanese or American? Let me decide who I am!

You’re bilingual! Hey I wanna hear you speak English! Can you say something in English?

Here in Japan, my English stands out as a skill that’s still “rare” enough to get people’s attention, both among my close Japanese friends and total strangers whenever I throw out random English words on the street.

I moved to the US when I was 16 years old and never identified myself with any of the existing Japanese and/or American groups whether it be a Japanese-American community, a group of Japanese international students on campus, or a community of so-called “expatriate families”—until a few years …

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identity en ja es pt

The Space Between

My best friend Brenda noted recently that we and our parents are a dying generation. We are the daughters of U.S. soldier dads and Japanese moms. These soldiers fell in love with Japan, and our moms during their tours of duty in the aftermath of World War II, and brought their brides home to the U.S. My parents have both passed away, as well as Brenda’s dad. Her mom is now 80.

Brenda and I are only children and are more like sisters than friends. We say we are half-Japanese and half-Southern, as our dads were true sons of the …

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identity en

“I’m not half, I’m whole!”

“I hate the word ‘half,’ which is used to designate people like me. I always wanted to be someone who is ‘whole.’” The young man raised his eyes to the evening sky and gazed upon the rising moon. It suddenly struck me that Byron and I were like the moon. As we are called “half,” the moon we were looking at is called a “half moon.” But like the moon, “half” is an illusion; there is much more to the moon than what meets the eye and there is much more to us than what people see. Like the moon, …

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identity en

アメリカ人のお宅 (American Otaku)

When I was a boy, I felt disconnected from the kids in Northern Michigan. I played with Star Wars action figures and Japanese robots, creating intricate storylines inside my head about galactic invasion. Sometimes, I flipped through manga my parents brought back from Japan, even though I couldn’t read kanji yet.

I showed up to school dressed in a Miami Vice outfit (my classmates taunted me, a few threatened to beat me up for “being a pussy”). I also played soccer and pretended I was a spy. On Saturdays, I went to my Obāsan’s trailer and played Mozart and Sakura …

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American South Bonsai Babes bullying Byron Fija Chronicles comics Cosplay culture discrimination diversity education food gamers geeks half hapa holidays identity internet language Lora Nakamura manga masculinity Michigan Mixed