Gwen Muranaka

Gwen Muranaka, Senior Editor, has been with The Rafu Shimpo since 2001. Prior to that, she worked in Tokyo at the Japan Times where she still contributes the weekly cartoon “Noodles.” She attended UCLA where she received a BA in English literature and also studied one year at Waseda University. Muranaka started in community newspapers as assistant editor at the Pacific Citizen.

Updated March 2021

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Family Quest - Part 2: Searching for Kimiko

Read Part 1 >> Joy and sorrow as a son reunites with his biological mother after more than six decades. To my family both new and old … Last summer, Terry Weber sat down at the computer in his North Torrance home to write a letter to the family of Kimiko, his birth mother, who gave him up for adoption in Japan when he was two months old. He writes: “Now that I know the circumstances of my being adopted, I have no bad feelings for my mother, Kimiko. I only wonder if she is okay. I would also like her to know that I am okay and I have a beautiful family. I would lik...

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Family Quest - Part 1: Searching For Tetsu

From Kashiwa, Japan to North Torrance, a remarkable 30-year quest to reconnect and find lost family. Naoko Shimamura and Terry Weber were meant to find each other. It just took more than 30 years. How the cousins were reunited is a tale of luck and good fortune, but also a story of remarkable tenacity. Of how family is lost and then found. A journey that spans from Kashiwa, Japan to a typical Japanese American home in North Torrance. Ultimately it is how the heart can expand and welcome new family members, and how at long last, a mother and son find one another after a lifetime spent apar...

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Treasure Hunters: Takachizu on Los Angeles Street seeks to record community memories and mementos.

Walking into the Vida Group Building on South Los Angeles Street, I couldn’t help but sense the ghosts of the past. In the grey building next door,  paperboys rolled up copies of the day’s newspaper and hopped on bikes, Mrs. Hotta welcomed visitors into the lobby while reporters took smoke breaks on the street. Rafu has moved twice since that time, but the memories remain powerful. The neighboring Vida building is now home to Takachizu (translation: treasure map), a gathering space for Little Tokyo community members to share memories and mementos. As you enter, w...

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Noodles: Obon Time

Gwen Muranaka’s weekly cartoon “Noodles” appears in The Japan Times, and occasionally in The Rafu Shimpo. The cartoons feature a Japanese American woman and her dog, presenting a Nikkei view of life in Japan. In this cartoon, they enjoy their local Obon.   [inline:noodles-obon-550x207.jpg]   *This article was originally published on The Rafu Shimpo on July 16 2014.  

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OCHAZUKE: New Year, Same Old Name

A little belated, but shinnen akemashite omedeto! Of course, here in the JA community, January 1 is only the beginning of the New Year’s season, with many community organizations hosting shinnenkai parties that will keep folks busy well into next month and beyond. For New Year’s Day we went to Eric’s cousins’ home in San Gabriel and enjoyed a feast of nishime, accompanied by toasts of warm sake. This unseasonably warm winter we’ve been experiencing didn’t change my yearning for the traditional Japanese New Year’s foods like ozoni, soba, and kazunok...

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