Barbara Nishimoto

Barbara Nishimoto was born in Chicago. She is a Sansei who now lives in Nashville, TN.

Updated July 2015 

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Nikkei Chronicles #4: Nikkei Family: Memories, Traditions, and Values

Lighthearted

In my family we told stories; we reminisced. During and after meals. Sitting in the living room all together for no particular reason. Because we were all so tightly bound together there was no need for a beginning, middle, and end. One of us would utter a single sentence, a phrase. That was enough. It was a cue. “Oh, I remember.” We would smile and nod, and like a chorus replay together the memory. The stories were always about one of us or all of us. Sometimes there was a lesson. Sometimes a character flaw revealed. But the endings were ...

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Waking slowly

Waking slowly. I can still remember the exquisitely warm feeling of waking up at home in my bed upstairs. The sounds floated up from the kitchen and gradually I began to distinguish the voices of my mother and father and older sister, Connie. It was a murmur accompanied by the clatter of pots, the hiss of water, the dull thud of the thick wooden cutting board being set upon the counter. New Year’s.

The preparation for New Year’s started days in advance. In fact our tradition for Christmas was to order Chinese food from a Cantonese restaurant 30 ...

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

Authentic

Where are you from? Where did you learn to speak English? Do you eat regular food? American?

For most of my life I have lived in communities where there are few Asians, let alone any Sanseis. Years ago classmates, strangers, would ask the inevitable questions. To them being Japanese-American meant being Japanese.

Later, with the rise in popularity of Japanese culture and cuisine, the interactions changed a bit. Instead of being interviewed, I became an audience for my coworkers’ reviews of the latest restaurant or cultural trend or historical event. Anything Japanese.

Sometimes they didn’t look directly at me ...

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