Susan Hamaker

Okinawan American Susan Hamaker is a New York-based writer who started the website JapanCulture•NYC in May 2011 as a resource for all things Japanese in New York City. She also blogs about her Okinawan heritage and her fascination with Japanese culture at shrinecastle.com.

Updated March 2012

food en

Have Your Bento Your Way with Bento On Demand

“Have it your way” was a slogan that fast-food chain Burger King used for forty years to encourage customers to create the burger they want rather than adhering to a strict menu. This is a concept that is generally not embraced in Japanese cuisine.

Do you ever purchase pre-packaged bento from a Japanese grocery store in New York City? Did you ever think, “Wow, I really like this, but I wish I could have hijiki instead of gobo kinpira”? Do you even know the difference between hijiki and gobo kinpira?

With pre-packaged bento, you don’t have a choice with ...

Read more

media en

Nikkei Chronicles #2 — Nikkei+ ~ Stories of Mixed Language, Traditions, Generations & Race ~

Documentary Explores Being “Hafu” in Japan

Daddy: Check the box that says “Caucasian.”
Me:      Really? I didn’t know because I’m not completely Caucasian.
           What about mom?
Daddy: The child’s race is determined by the father’s side.

That conversation between my father and me took place when I was around eight or nine years old. It was the first time I filled out official school paperwork on my own. It was also the first time I gave any thought to my race—both of my races.

The paperwork was easy at first. Name, address, phone number, date of birth—no issues. Then came ...

Read more

media en

Enka Singer Jero Delights Diverse Japan Society Audience

A diverse crowed filled Japan Society’s auditorium Saturday night. They were young, middle-aged, and not so young. They were Japanese, half Japanese, part Japanese, and non-Japanese. They were wearing jeans, dresses, and kimono. And they were all there for the New York debut of Jero, a Pittsburgh native who has achieved success in Japan in the unlikeliest of professions: He’s an enka singer.

Enka, a Japanese ballad that became popular during the postwar era, generally has a fan base that is considerably older than Jero, who, at age thirty, prefers the hip-hop style of clothing to suits or ...

Read more

community en

Kizuna: Nikkei Stories from the 2011 Japan Earthquake & Tsunami

Japanese Pop Singer AK is Saving Japan with Your Love

Akemi Kakihara is a Japanese pop star who has released 14 albums with EMI Music Japan, one of Japan’s major record labels. Her latest album, Say That You Love Me, came out in August 2010, and her two most recent US singles appear on compilation albums.

But she’d rather talk about the children.

The children are preschoolers in Miyagi and Fukushima, where AK (as she prefers to be called) visited six months after a massive earthquake triggered a tsunami in Northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011. When she arrived at the school in Soma, a small town near ...

Read more

community en

Kizuna: Nikkei Stories from the 2011 Japan Earthquake & Tsunami

Fukushima City: Six Months Later - Part 2

Read Part 1 >>

Professor Takahashi is an intelligent man whose face shows no signs of stress despite the hardships that have befallen his country. When discussing the nuclear crisis and radiation levels in Fukushima Prefecture, he speaks matter-of-factly and explains the science in layman’s terms. Armed with Fukushima University’s state-of-the-art sievert meter and a scientific background, he admits he has a base knowledge of radiation, which helps him understand the nuclear situation better than the average citizen.

Although he feels that the government’s information about the goings on at the disabled nuclear power plant is enough for ...

Read more