THE HEART OF KANJI: We survive through our breathing

人 (Hito) means ”a person.” This character represents two people supporting each other. 息 (Iki) means “breath.” The top lines indicate a human nose and the lines below indicate a human heart. Air passes through our nose to our lungs and heart. 生 (Ikiru) means “a life.” The bottom lines represent soil and the top […]

THE GREAT UNKNOWN AND THE UNKNOWN GREAT: Recounting ‘Sushi and Sourdough’ author and WWII vet Tooru Kanazawa’s life

Tooru Kanazawa, an early Nisei writer and journalist, distinguished himself as a community activist and soldier during World War II. At the end of his long life, he achieved widespread attention in literary circles with the publication of his autobiographical novel “Sushi and Sourdough.” Tooru Joe Kanazawa was born Nov. 12, 1906 in Spokane, Wash., […]

THE HEART OF KANJI: We tend to believe we are always right

私 (Watakushi) means “I or me.” The left side of this represents a rice plant and the right side represents arms. The rice plant is held in a person’s arms. 正 (Tadashii) means “right.” The top line indicates the goal and the lines below indicate a foot, showing you walking toward the goal. 思 (Omoi) […]


Just the word barbecue takes on different meanings, depending on where in the country you reside. In the South, barbecue usually means low and slow cooking at somewhere between 225 to 275 degrees over charcoal. In the Carolinas, it primarily means hog, whereas it’s only beef in Texas. And even in the hog centric regions, […]

THE GREAT UNKNOWN AND THE UNKNOWN GREAT: Prewar attitudes toward queer sexuality in Japanese-language press

This is the 16th year that I have had the pleasure of presenting my annual queer history column. I want to start today’s installment by acknowledging the 2020 online J-Sei exhibit “Seen & Unseen: Queering Japanese American History Before 1945,” co-curated by Nichi Bei Weekly columnist Amy Sueyoshi and Stan Yogi. It was a landmark […]

THE GOCHISO GOURMET: Me so in love with everything soy

As we’re approaching that time of year when the Nichi Bei Foundation hosts the annual Northern California Soy & Tofu Festival — this year it’s an in-person event at the San Francisco Japantown Peace Plaza, July 2 from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. — it’s time to discuss all things soy. Well, over the past […]

THE HEART OF KANJI: Love is like rain from a cloud in the sky

愛 (Ai) means “love.” The top of this character is a person rowing a boat, the middle portion is a heart and the bottom portion is a footstep. All together, this symbolizes the feeling that a boat cannot go fast enough when someone is looking forward to meeting with their loved one. 空 (Sora) means […]

THE HEART OF KANJI: Practice seeing the good side

良 (Yoi) means “good.” The top lines indicates a box and the lines below indicate measuring something correctly. 方 (Ho) means “direction.” This word indicates a small boat heading in a certain direction. 見 (Miru) means “look or see.” This word represents the human eye. 練習 (Renshu) means “learn or practice.” The left side of […]


Since my cocktail videos are appearing in the monthly “Nichi Bei Café” segments on YouTube, I thought this might be a good opportunity to rehash things I may have discussed in the past, as these cocktail videos typically run no more than five minutes, not nearly enough time to discuss individual liquors on their own. […]

THE GREAT UNKNOWN AND THE UNKNOWN GREAT: ‘The Great Unknown’s’ 100th edition

A random perusal of my list of titles has led me to a stunning discovery: This week’s column represents the 100th installment of “The Great Unknown and the Unknown Great” that I have published in the Nichi Bei Weekly in the dozen years since the newspaper’s founding in 2009 (I have also done some 40 […]

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