Naomi Hirahara

Naomi Hirahara is the author of the Edgar Award-winning Mas Arai mystery series, which features a Kibei Nisei gardener and atomic-bomb survivor who solves crimes, Officer Ellie Rush series, and now the new Leilani Santiago mysteries. A former editor of The Rafu Shimpo, she has written a number of nonfiction books on the Japanese American experience and several 12-part serials for Discover Nikkei.

Updated October 2019

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Silk

Chapter One—Jou Schnell: Keeping House

Jou Schnell looked out her window of her small four-room, wood-framed house on Gold Hill. Through the walnut trees, dappled light streamed onto the dew-covered grass, a common sight during the last days of summer in California.

Her nursemaid, Okei, was late. She was just a child herself. Only about seventeen. Jou remembered when she herself was seventeen, seven years ago, when the Tokugawa shogunate still held power over her childhood home in Japan. The magnificent Tsuruga Castle in Wakamatsu was still standing in its full magnificence at the time, a beacon for all samurai still loyal to the shogunate ...

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Nikkei Uncovered: a poetry column

What spirits whisper...

This month we are treated to two highly-lauded, accomplished writers and community heroes – Naomi Hirahara and Stan Yogi. Their pieces step out of each writer’s usual practice and into the poetry featured here (and we will surely feature more of their poetry in the future!). When I read through each of the poems we feature for this October issue of Nikkei Uncovered, I swear I can hear whispers of ghosts...a swirl of voices yearning to break free and be present in the place of visibility and homage.  If nothing else, the writer is witness – and the poetry here ...

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Killer Roll

Chapter Twelve — Family Ties

“Just give it to me, Maki.” I hear Carrie’s voice behind me. I’m so relieved that she, Som, and Crowe have arrived. She walks and stands in front of me, her blue eyes laser focused on my face and I know that she means business. I have a government-issued gun in my trembling hands and I almost drop it. Luckily she has good reflexes and catches it.

Agent Neela Bronstein is still yelling obscenities related to her palm wound. Blood is dripping onto the linoleum floor of the Bhalla family kitchen. Som throws her a roll of gauze ...

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Killer Roll

Chapter Eleven — How to Sharpen a Knife

One of the first things Yudai, my boss at the sushi bar, taught me was how to properly sharpen my knife.

He uses the traditional Japanese method of mizunoushi, or literally water stones. They are rectangular stones that look like the Japanese confection yokan. After soaking them in water for 12 hours, you remove the stones and sharpen your blade with them, scraping the blade against the stone’s surface at a 15 degree angle.

Here in Carrie’s car, we don’t have the luxury of using water stones, and rely on the next best thing—Crowe’s sharpening ...

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Killer Roll

Chapter Ten — Double Crosser

“What do you mean Yudai was behind this?” I can hardly get the words out of my mouth. Yudai is like my Japanese brother—only many times more because while my own blood relatives have stomped on my dream, Yudai made it possible for me to be a sushi chef. And Som, my coworker, is saying that our beloved boss may be trying to destroy us.

“You’re out of your mind, Som,” Carrie says as she steers her car onto El Camino. Gridlock as usual. Welcome to Silicon Valley.

Som peels off the duct tape from his wrists, wincing ...

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