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 ja es pt

Sushi & Salsa, Cactus & Bamboo

During the war my father, Daniel Garcia (born Dec. 7, 1925 in Pasadena, CA), assembled shells onboard his ship to slam away at the Japanese installations. In Japan my mother, Yoshiko Fuchigami (born Feb. 2, 1930 in Atsugi), was assembling munitions to throw at the American invaders. Indirectly they were doing their damndest to kill each other. Having failed, the war over, they met, fell in love, and were married.

Their meeting came about via my grandfather. As a member of the Military Police, my father transported my grandfather, who was acting as a liaison between the local police and …

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identity en ja es pt

The Mabuyá or the Earthquake that Brings Good Luck: Some Traditions of my Oba that are now memories of my childhood

“Don’t sweep the house at night or you’ll become poor” or “if you cut your nails at night, the devil will come for you.” Even more prophetic, “you are going to cry…” which my oba always said when she saw the cat washing herself. I heard these and other sayings while growing up. When my oba left us, we didn’t hear such things as often, but there are a few (in addition to many other traditions and beliefs) that are part of our memory; if nothing else, they are reminders of my oba. As they say, old traditions hang around for a long …

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food en

Japanese and Jewish Food Come Home to Brooklyn

Sawako Okochi has always had a sense of adventure. When she finished high school in Hiroshima and her classmates were deciding which Japanese universities to apply to, her sights were set farther away.

“Instead of going to a Japanese university, I wanted to go to an American university,” says Okochi, who had a goal of becoming a translator. “I decided to go to Texas because it was one of the cheapest places to live, and also I wanted something more in the countryside. I don’t know…the sound of ‘Texas.’ It just fascinated me.”

Eventually disillusioned with her original course of …

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culture en

Ted Tokio Tanaka: Meeting Architectural Challenges with a Global Vision

One of the first sights a visitor to Los Angeles will see are the giant glowing pillars arranged around the city’s international airport. Eleven glass columns approach the airport along Century Blvd, ascending in height from 25 to 100 feet to mimic an airplane lifting into the sky. Fifteen more 100-foot shimmering colored pillars encircle the airport—an “electronic Stonehenge” that hints at the glitz and glamour to be found within the city.

With Project Gateway LAX, Japanese-born architect Ted Tokio Tanaka, aware that Los Angeles had very few architectural landmarks other than the Hollywood sign, sought to create a structure …

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media en

Documentary Explores Being “Hafu” in Japan

Daddy: Check the box that says “Caucasian.”
Me:      Really? I didn’t know because I’m not completely Caucasian.
           What about mom?
Daddy: The child’s race is determined by the father’s side.

That conversation between my father and me took place when I was around eight or nine years old. It was the first time I filled out official school paperwork on my own. It was also the first time I gave any thought to my race—both of my races.

The paperwork was easy at first. Name, address, phone number, date of birth—no issues. Then …

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architect architecture california chef Chronicles documentary ethnicity family film food hafu hapa Hirokazu Kosaka identity immigration iwate JAJA Japan japanese food Jewish JPquake2011 Lara Perez Takagi LAX little tokyo Los Angeles