Milagros Tsukayama Shinzato

Sansei whose paternal and maternal grandparents were from the town of Yonabaru, Okinawa. She now works as a freelance translator (English/Spanish) and blogger at Jiritsu, where she shares personal stories and research on Japanese immigration to Peru and related topics.

Updated December 2017

community en ja es pt

Nikkei Chronicles #8 — Nikkei Heroes: Trailblazers, Role Models, and Inspirations

"My oba, the greatest inspiration!"

Who inspires me to be better? I think my oba does. Although I still don’t know how she overcame so many challenges, became successful, and helped others. And just like a heroine, she never expected anything in return.

My oba was 92 when she died and I was 9. The difference in our ages was more than 80 years! I think that gave my oba a certain “halo” of mystery. She never told me the story of her life. She rarely spoke spontaneously; just four or five words at a time and I’ve been storing them in my ...

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food en ja es pt

Nikkei Chronicles #6 — Itadakimasu 2!: Another Taste of Nikkei Culture

Hard times for Mother, good memories for me

“Eat it all, mottainai to throw it away.” Although two years have passed, I still miss my mother. “If you run out of ajinomoto, use shoyu (soy sauce) with sugar.” I still remember so many pieces of advice she gave me! “If you cook with tanchi, the food tastes bad.” My mom was always right. Food is prepared with love, without tanchi (being upset).

My mother wasn't openly affectionate and neither was my grandmother (oba). Both were widowed with small children in difficult times: my oba during the war (1944) and my mother during Peru's economic crisis (1985 ...

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community en ja es pt

Nikkei New Year: A History of Oshogatsu Since the Time of the Issei

I spent almost all of my childhood with my grandmother. Her customs, which were of course very Japanese, were reflected in her daily life. She didn't celebrate Christmas, but she did celebrate Oshogatsu (New Year in Japanese).

In those days, I remember that preparations for Oshogatsu began on December 31. Starting at dawn, we cleaned the house, while my mother cooked. She spent the entire morning cooking tofu, a pork dish with turnips and carrots, kombu knots, plenty of sushi and even sweet potato and vegetable tempura. All of this food was prepared as an offering for the butsudan ...

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war en es

Crystallizing Dreams: Testimony of Chieko Kamisato, former Crystal City resident

Chieko Kamisato is a Peruvian-American Nisei who spent time at the Crystal City concentration camp in the United States between 1944 and 1946. Recently, she visited Peru to reconnect with some friends as well as with the past. Her memories, reflecting a lifetime of difficulties and overcoming obstacles, deserve to be shared.

The story begins with her father Junken. Originally from Okinawa, he arrived in Peru in 1915. Awaiting him were his older brothers, with whom he worked in various trades. Seven years later, he brought over his wife, Kami—Chieko’s mother.

Junken and his brothers walked the streets ...

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identity en ja es pt

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

The Mabuyá or the Earthquake that Brings Good Luck: Some Traditions of my Oba that are now memories of my childhood

“Don’t sweep the house at night or you’ll become poor” or “if you cut your nails at night, the devil will come for you.” Even more prophetic, “you are going to cry…” which my oba always said when she saw the cat washing herself. I heard these and other sayings while growing up. When my oba left us, we didn’t hear such things as often, but there are a few (in addition to many other traditions and beliefs) that are part of our memory; if nothing else, they are reminders of my oba. As they say ...

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