Nikkei View

This series presents selections from Gil Asakawa’s “Nikkei View: The Asian American Blog,” which presents a Japanese American perspective on pop culture, media, and politics.

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Tokyo’s Second Olympics Will Be Forever Remembered for Its Unique Circumstances

As I write this, the “2020” Tokyo Olympic Games are just two weeks away. It’s the second time the summer games have been held in Japan. I was a kid living in Japan when Tokyo hosted its first Olympics, from October 10-24, 1964.

It was a big deal for all Japanese, and for me and my family—a Hawaii-born Nisei dad working for the US Army, my Issei mom from Hokkaido and my older brother and me (a younger brother would be born Oct. 29, less than a week after the games’ closing). I was six years old, and aware that …

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We Are Not Free tells the JA incarceration story through a different perspective

During the Coronavirus pandemic, we’ve all gotten used to staying home every evening – no parties, dinners at restaurants, movie nights, concerts. Just a lot of plopping down on the couch to see what’s available on demand via cable, Netflix, Amazon Prime, or other streaming source that brings entertainment to your living room. A lot of people have been reading too. Book clubs seem to have been embraced by a whole new crop of eager readers.

I was honored this spring to be asked to create an educator’s guide for a novel so that teachers could use the book help …

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I've heard "Go back where you came from" too often

I was driving on the highway one night some years back between Denver and Boulder, when I got harassed by a couple of young white guys who were tailgating me, probably in their teens or early 20s at the most. When I pulled off at an exit they followed me so I pulled into a parking lot and got out of my car. They did the same, and started yelling at me.

“Go back to China, you dirty Jap! Remember Pearl Harbor!!”

I shot back some pleasantries myself, educating them on the fact that I’m Japanese American, and that China …

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Traveling to Japan With a Loved One Who Has Dementia

My mom has suffered from worsening dementia for years, and when my brothers and I saw increasing signs that she would no longer be able to live by herself, we moved her into a Memory Care Center nearby.

Two years ago, my wife, Erin, and I took the last of several trips to Japan with my mom. She has a brother in Sapporo, and another brother lived in Nemuro, her hometown in eastern Hokkaido, until he passed away in January 2016. His widow, my aunt, still lives in the small fishing town. And in Tokyo, my mom has a …

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When Family Caregiving Isn’t Enough for Your Parent

My brother Glenn and I moved my mom from her house in Lafayette, Colorado, last month to live in a memory care facility nearby. She’s had dementia for a long time, and it’s gotten noticeably worse for the past couple of years. I’m still sorting through how it felt to take her out of her house, and how it feels now.

Junko Asakawa was born and raised in Nemuro, a small fishing town in the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. She grew up in the pre-war years, and was even crowned “Miss Nemuro” when she was a teenager.

My mom …

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1964 Olympics 2020 Olympics aging asian americans Caregiving dementia Donald Trump family fiction identity incarceration Japan mother Olympics racism Tokyo Traci Chee travel We Are Not Free