Olympics carry a question: What does it mean to be Japanese?

TOKYO — Two multiracial athletes, two high-profile roles: Rising NBA star Rui Hachimura carried the Japanese flag at the Olympics’ opening ceremony. Tennis superstar Naomi Osaka lit the Olympic cauldron. For Japan, it was a remarkable showcase of racial diversity — but one that also highlighted how much remains missing in a nation that values […]

S.F.: New crosswalk at Buchanan Street to ‘calm the Geary Expressway’

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency introduced a new crosswalk at Buchanan and Geary streets in late July in an effort to make the roadway between Japantown and the Fillmore neighborhood more pedestrian-friendly. The three-mile stretch is considered to be one of the city’s most dangerous crossing areas, as pedestrians are eight times more likely to […]

Japanese Americans win multiple silver medals at Tokyo games

Nyjah Huston finished in seventh place for the U.S. men’s skateboarding team July 25 at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. This was the first time the men’s street skateboarding event was offered at the Olympics. Jay Litherland of Team United States won the silver medal in the men’s 400-meter individual medley, with a time of 4:10.28, […]

A ‘consequential’ collection of JA history

THE UNSUNG GREAT: STORIES OF EXTRAORDINARY JAPANESE AMERICANS By Greg Robinson (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2020, 294 pp., $29.95, paperback) This is the second of two outstanding books by eminent historian and journalist Greg Robinson consisting primarily of his “The Great Unknown and the Unknown Great” columns in the San Francisco-based Nichi Bei Weekly. In reviewing for the NBW the first book, “The Great Unknown: Japanese American Sketches,” published by the University Press […]

FINDING YOUR NIKKEI ROOTS: On the Road Again: Planning a genealogy research trip

Any trip requires planning. If you want to go to Japan, you would consider when to go, for how long, which airline to take, which cities to visit and more. Even the most relaxed traveler would have some plans in place.  A genealogy research trip requires the same sort of planning. The more you plan, […]

Remembering a Tacoma, Wash. JA community hub

BECOMING NISEI: JAPANESE AMERICAN URBAN LIVES IN PREWAR TACOMA By Lisa M. Hoffman and Mary L. Hanneman; Co-published with University of Washington Libraries  (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2020, 312 pp., $29.95, paperback) “(Becoming Nisei) is about a place, now gone, but returned to you through the voices of people who lived there.”  — Gregory Masao Tanbara, Foreword, “Becoming Nisei” Written by two professors from the University of Washington Tacoma, “Becoming Nisei” is the result of close to two decades of work, bilingual archival research, […]

Minding and mining the gaps of one family’s trauma

FORCED OUT: A NIKKEI WOMAN’S SEARCH FOR A HOME IN AMERICA By Judy Y. Kawamoto (Louisville, Colo.: University Press of Colorado, 2020, 202 pp., $29.95, hardcover) I immensely enjoyed and was greatly enlightened by Sansei psychotherapist Judy Kawamoto’s singular book. I would classify its genre as a meditative memoir. As she succinctly notes, “psychotherapy is […]

A wonderful introduction to Japanese cuisine and more

JAPAN EATS! AN EXPLORER’S GUIDE TO JAPANESE FOOD By Betty Reynolds (North Clarendon, Vt.: Tuttle Publishing, 2020, 72 pp., $12.99, hard cover) As travelers to Japan know, eating out can be an adventure. You need to know what you’re ordering, how to order it, and how to eat it properly. “Japan Eats! An Explorer’s Guide to Japanese Food” is the guide to help you navigate your way through the pleasures and pitfalls of dining in […]

A glimpse into Japan’s past

TONO MONOGATARI By Shigeru Mizuki, translated by Zack Davisson (Montreal: Drawn and Quarterly, 2021, 256 pp., $24.95, paperback) Known for his ghost stories, Shigeru Mizuki is in his element with “Tono Monogatari.” Focusing solely on a collection of short stories collected from the Tono region of Iwate Prefecture, Drawn & Quarterly’s latest translated work by the late manga artist is a master’s homage to his roots. Mizuki amassed an eclectic oeuvre […]

Myles Matsuno’s feature debut ‘Christmas in July’ premieres in theaters, streaming

To understand Nikkei filmmaker Myles Matsuno and his debut feature-length film, “Christmas in July,” one needs only to look to Matsuno’s personal motto, passed on to him by his Issei great-grandfather, Ichiro Kataoka. “Honesty and kindness are best in business.” Long before the war, Kataoka ran the Aki Hotel in San Francisco’s Nihonmachi. In order […]

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