Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

Frances Kai-Hwa Wang is a second-generation Chinese American from California who now divides her time between Michigan and the Big Island of Hawaii. She is a contributor for New America Media’s Ethnoblog,,, and She team-teaches Asian Pacific American History and the Law at the University of Michigan and University of Michigan Dearborn. She also teaches writing and is a popular speaker on Asian Pacific American and multicultural issues.

Check out her Web site at, her blogs at and, and she can be reached at

*Photo by Mark Bialek

Updated October 2012

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Mochitsuki: Taking the (Rice) Cake

As I walk with my four kids into the U-M Center for Japanese Studies, we are heartened by the thump thump thump of the kine hitting the rice in the usu. It reminds us of the burly farmhands with whom we used to celebrate Mochitsuki many years ago. The girls start giggling, though, when they see who’s grasping the wooden mallets: skinny little professors who seem unable to capture the rhythm of pounding in a large wooden mortar. Mochi is a pounded rice cake, and Mochitsuki is the traditional rice cake making that happens at the end of every year to preserve just-harvested rice for th…

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Crónicas Nikkei #1 — ¡ITADAKIMASU! Sabores de La Cultura Nikkei

The Aunties at Temple

I see in the Hawaii Tribune-Herald newspaper that novelist Lois-Ann Yamanaka is reading at the Kinoole Farmer’s Market. “Jean Yamanaka” is the contact name, so she must be in town visiting her mom or other relatives. I love her work and plan to go, excitedly gathering up all her novels to ask her to sign. But instead, the books bake in my car as I let myself get caught up with the older Japanese American ladies at the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist temple. I thought I could go to services 9-10 and then cut out quickly to go to the reading from 10-11:30, but there is no escaping t…

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Oh! Oshogatsu! Missing Japanese New Year’s Day–Adventures in Multicultural Living

The doorbell rings. The dog barks. I turn on the porch light, open the front door, and… No one is there. Then I look down. A package! Ooh, I was not expecting any more Christmas presents. I bend down to pick it up, and I hear the unmistakable sound of … Rice. A box of rice. A very big box of rice. Who would ship me a very big box of rice? I stagger into the house, the sound of trickling and flowing rice filling my ears, and I put the very big box down on the kitchen table. I look at the label to see who in the world would FedEx me a very big box of rice and smile when I r…

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