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

media en

Baishakunin, Inc.

Chapter Four—Finding Mrs. Butterworth

>> Chapter three

It’s been a week and I’ve gone to at least ten garage sales, two 99-cents outlets, and five thrift stores to make the headquarters of my new matchmaking service, Baishakunin, Inc., halfway presentable. My best friend Ginne Lee did her part by lending me all this Japanese stuff she had in storage—shoji screens and Japanese bowls—to make everything look authentic.

The only thing missing is a face—the face of my company. I need a Japanese Mrs. Butterworth, a soft, comforting maternal image that I’ll be first to admit I don’t have ...

Read more

media en

Baishakunin, Inc.

Chapter Three—Let’s Make a Deal

>> Chapter two

Ever since I turned 35 (two years ago), everyone has treated me differently. During every holiday dinner, my parents and my younger brother with his wife and two kids look at me pitifully, as if my expiration date has long passed. I’m no longer part of the cool 21-34 crowd on surveys and marathon categories, I’m now part of the 35-44-year-old crowd. Even bag boys call me ma’am and offer to carry my groceries to my car—what are they thinking—that maybe I drive a Super Stock Dodge, the classic Little Ole Lady from ...

Read more

media en

Baishakunin, Inc.

Chapter Two—Eat Your Brussel Sprouts

>> Chapter one

“You actually don’t look too bad, considering,” says Ginnie as we are seated at La Grande Orange Café, the new restaurant on the bottom floor of the Pasadena condo unit I live in.

Now remember—Ginnie Lee is my best friend and about the nicest person I know in the planet, so for her to say not “too bad” actually meant I was wretched-looking. I finally took a shower this afternoon, after not taking one for three days. I had heard on Oprah or some other kind of TV show that Preparation H did wonders on the ...

Read more

media en

Baishakunin, Inc.

Chapter One—The Games People Play

Jamie Kaneko carefully counts out fifteen sheets of toilet paper on her roll, tears on the perforated line, and hands the loose end to me with a smile. “Here you go—now don’t start until I tell you to.”

A couple of young teenagers, holding their toilet paper tails with the tips of their fingers, giggle, while the grandmothers on the couch look a bit confused. The rest of us—veteranos—sit politely, but inside I feel like screaming—like, for once, can’t someone think of anything different—

Jamie raises her arms and then dramatically swishes them down ...

Read more

culture en

1001 Cranes: Excerpt from a new novel for young readers

The following is an excerpt from Naomi Hirahara’s middle-grade novel, 1001 Cranes, which tells the story of Angela Michiko Kato, a 12-year-old girl who has to spend a summer with her grandparents in Gardena, CA while her parents are going through marital problems.

Chapter Ten The Great Gambaru

That night I go to bed early. Early, early at eight o’clock.

I am sticky and my eyes are swollen, but I don’t bother to take a bath, wash my face, or even brush my teeth. And no one tells me I have to. Either they feel sorry for ...

Read more