Leah Nanako Winkler

Leah Nanako Winkler is a first generation hapa living in Brooklyn, New York. She is a writer of plays, essays and television pilots.  You can learn more about Leah and her work at www.leahwinkler.org.

Updated February 2013

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Nature vs. Nurture - Everything is going to be okay

As a bewildered immigrant child imported to the hills of central Kentucky from metropolitan Japan, I often found solace in torturing small animals.

Although my peers seemed to migrate to me during those first few years of living in the south due to my inadvertent ‘foreign’ allure, I was often distant towards their offers of friendship. When asked about my after-school playtime activities, I hid underneath a façade of a benevolent tomboy who enjoyed solitude and basketball. In reality though, I had surrendered myself to life as an introspective strange person who manipulated and tormented those who were less ...

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On Isolation

I saw her picture on my computer screen after I pseudo-accidentally hacked into my boyfriend’s Facebook account. When you’re sharing a disintegrating relationship and a tiny bedroom with a partner, social networking sites left unattended morph into mere temptations of privacy invasion. By frequently using my laptop and forgetting to log off, he had unintentionally left me the option to find his guilt-ridden messages of infatuation to Amalia Sajaro—a gnomish yet striking violist he met at music camp that summer. Although the pure-hearted Leah inside of me frantically scolded that reading another person’s mail, no matter ...

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The Hapa Advantage

“Hybrids are better”—Shayne Kao

For as long as I’ve lived here, New York City winters have put me into voluntary solitary confinement. December through March is a particularly bleak period when everyone in the city seems to be wearing only black, and I want to do nothing but crawl under my covers to avoid the oppressive buildings and empty expressions of those who pass me by on the dark and heinous streets at night. Even the purse Chihuahuas know that after the Holiday festivities are over, everything pretty much sucks. Any hint of an increase in temperature is ...

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Am I Unstable? Or am I just a Hapa?

I have an early memory of a “bowing war” that occurred between my Japanese grandmother and a visiting neighbor who had come to her home bearing gifts of mochi and tangerines in Shimabara. In my mind, the conversation went like this:

GRANDMA (bowing down to NEIGHBOR)
Thank you so much for coming over to my pathetic excuse of a home!

NEIGHBOR (bowing down to GRANDMA)
Don’t be silly! Thank YOU so much for letting my pathetic self come over to your glorious home that I worship! I certainly hope that my horrible mochi and sad excuse for tangerines are ...

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Suupaa Gaijin Justin Baldwin

Justin Baldwin hands me a business card. He is endearingly tense as he begrudgingly mingles at a benefit honoring his mentor Roger Shimomura—the infamous yet acclaimed artist known for his controversial social political art on Asian America. I immediately notice that Justin and I have two things in common.

(1) He is trying hard not to be uncomfortable at this elite social gathering.
(2) He is a Hapa.

Justin is seemingly a timid artistic type. Sporting black and grey-framed glasses, he totes around a digital camera that seems to serve as a security blanket. I observe him while I ...

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