Ben Arikawa

Ben Arikawa is a Northern California Sansei. He lives not far from where his paternal grandparents settled to work on a fruit orchard about hundred years ago. Ben recently attended the Tule Lake Pilgrimage, where he met Brad and George Takei. Late in life, he realized that he has a need to tell stories and has been exploring his literary side. Ben has contributed an article to Pacific Citizen, the award winning newspaper of the JACL, and several articles to Discover Nikkei. His stories reflect his experiences as a Japanese American, son, husband, and father. He is also exploring his artistic side as a director of photography on Ikeibi Films web series, Gold Mountain (2016), and as an actor in Infinity and Chashu Ramen (2013). 

Updtaed August 2016

war en

A Journey to Jerome

Otousan, Obasan, Ojisan, how was the train ride?

My father, aunt, uncle, and their family traveled about 2,000 miles by train from the Fresno Assembly Center in California, where they were first incarcerated, to the Jerome War Relocation Camp, which was open from 1942 to 1944.

More than 70 years later, my wife and I traveled nearly that distance from our Northern California home to Little Rock, Arkansas, where we had been invited to an event at the Clinton Presidential Library.

Our trip by air and rental car undoubtedly took much less time and was more pleasant than my ...

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All My Friends, They Went to Tule

There are many untold and, possibly, forgotten stories in one’s family history. In an earlier article in the 2011 Holiday Issue of Pacific Citizen, the official newspaper of the Japanese American Citizens League, I wrote about what little I knew and what I didn’t know about my father’s incarceration in Jerome during World War II.

Even before that article was published, I began to research the files of persons incarcerated in War Relocation Authority (WRA) camps that were available through the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). I requested and obtained over 200 pages of documents related ...

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food en

Nikkei Chronicles #1: ITADAKIMASU! A Taste of Nikkei Culture

Homemade Miso Soup

If you have been to a Japanese restaurant in the United States, you probably have been served a warm, salty, light brown miso soup. Sometimes it will have thinly sliced scallions floating in the broth. Sometimes there will be miniature cubes of tofu hidden in the depths below the particles of miso suspended in the broth. It is offered more as an afterthought, usually before a meal of overly large portions of protein or sushi.

My daughter, Elizabeth, came back from Japan this spring with a revelation—Japanese miso soup is nothing like the miso soup you get in a ...

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food en

Nikkei Chronicles #1: ITADAKIMASU! A Taste of Nikkei Culture

Mochi and Me

Mochi is a quintessential Nikkei food. Mochi is a symbol of our ties to our ancestral homeland, the land of small, terraced rice fields tended by family farmers.

Mochi is made from rice. Not the typical rice you cook at home, but a glutinous rice that is very sticky when cooked. In the traditional method, the rice is steamed, ground and pounded by people wielding wooden mallets into a sticky dough. I have a very vague memory of my extended family coming together to make mochi this way on a very cold winter’s day when I was very young ...

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identity en

Two Weddings and a Funeral

I’m not yet at the age where I scan the obituaries for people I knew, like I remember my father doing. In his later years, he would open the paper to the obituaries most days, looking for the names of acquaintances. I remember my father saying: “I was talking to Don the other day. Frank is gone. Don and I are the only ones left from camp now.” (Don and my father were roommates for a time in the Jerome War Relocation Authority incarceration camp in Arkansas during WWII.)

But one August evening a few years ago, on the ...

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