Nancy Matsumoto

Nancy Matsumoto is a freelance writer and editor who covers agroecology, food and drink, the arts, and Japanese and Japanese American culture. She has been a contributor toThe Wall Street Journal, Time, People, The Toronto Globe and Mail, Civil Eats, NPR’s The Salt, TheAtlantic.com and the online Densho Encyclopedia of the Japanese American Incarceration, among other publications. Her two forthcoming books are: Rice, Water, Earth, about artisanal Japanese sake from Tuttle, and By the Shore of Lake Michigan, an English-language translation of Japanese tanka poetry written by her grandparents, from UCLA’s Asian American Studies Press. You can follow her blog “Rice, Water, Earth: Notes on Sake” here

Twitter/Instagram: @nancymatsumoto


Updated April 2021

food en

Music at Work

A feel-good, nostalgic genre of Japanese dance tunes called City Pop has become the kitchen soundtrack for a community of Toronto chefs—one that sets the tone for a kinder, brighter, kitchen culture. When Shori Imanishi opened Imanishi Japanese Kitchen, his izakaya at Dundas West and Lisgar in 2015, his goal was to create the perfect amalgam of Japanese food, music, and Tokyo street culture. “I wanted to give it that Tokyo vibe,” the chef-owner says. “It wasn’t just about the food, but that entire experience you get when you’re in Japan.” So he ou…

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food en

Challenging Times at British Columbia's YK3 Brewery

In February of 2018, I visited YK3, a small sake brewery in Victoria, British Columbia headed by veteran toji (master brewer) Yoshiaki Kasugai. He is the creator of a line of sake called Yu (悠), a dreamy name that can mean “quiet” or “calm,” but also “far off,” or “boundless.” The brewery is in fact far off the beaten path, due south of downtown Vancouver, close to where the Fraser River empties into the Strait of Georgia. Housed in a non-descript industrial mini-mall, it seemed to take a long time to get there in traffic from my Vancouver hot…

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culture en

Nikkei Chronicles #7—Nikkei Roots: Digging into Our Cultural Heritage

Pictures and Poetry: Deepening the Connection to my Japanese Roots

Growing up Sansei in my part of California’s San Gabriel Valley meant you didn’t have to work very hard to stay connected to your Nikkei roots—they were all around you. Every family that lived on our South San Gabriel street was Japanese American. We shared Japanese food, holidays, and a mania for gift giving. Our most exotic neighbors were from Okinawa, which as a child I took to be a country separate from Japan. Our local Issei “fish man” would come by weekly his truck to sell the neighborhood moms sashimi-grade tuna and fresh tofu, and our favorite Botan ricec…

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community en

Kizuna: Nikkei Stories from the 2011 Japan Earthquake & Tsunami

In Minamisanriku, Surveying the Aftermath of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake

On my last day in Minamisanriku, a small group of us from World in Tohoku signed up for a tour of the town’s downtown coastal area, which was decimated by the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011. Until then we had been immersed in brainstorming ways to grow the organizations of a group of dedicated and inspiring social entrepreneurs. They were so positive, and so alive that it was hard to viscerally grasp the scope of the natural disaster that had spawned some of their ventures. I wanted to learn more about the effects of the disaster that left nearly 22,000 dead or missing and se…

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community en

Kizuna: Nikkei Stories from the 2011 Japan Earthquake & Tsunami

Growing Social Impact Ventures in Tohoku, Japan

I’ve just returned from an eye-opening odyssey to the Tohoku region of Japan with the non-profit social entrepreneurship organization World in Tohoku (WIT). Through WIT I was able to meet some of the people behind the dynamic social ventures formed in the wake of the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster and learn how they are trying to improve social, environmental, and living conditions in the region. Located in the northeastern part of Japan, Tohoku is a beautiful region filled with awe-inspiring bays and coastal coves, forests, deep-green mountains and fields, amazin…

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