Gil Asakawa

Gil Asakawa writes about pop culture and politics from a Asian American and Japanese American perspective on his blog, www.nikkeiview.com. He and his partner also co-founded www.visualizAsian.com, where they conduct live interviews with notable Asian American Pacific Islanders. He is the author of Being Japanese American (Stone Bridge Press, 2004) and served as the Pacific Citizen's editorial board chair for seven years as a JACL national board member.

Updated November 2009

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Kizuna: Nikkei Stories from the 2011 Japan Earthquake & Tsunami

Nikkei View: Thoughts on the Great Tohoku Kanto Earthquake and tsunami from a Japanese American in Denver

Unless you live in California, most Americans can’t imagine what it’s like to be in a minor earthquake, never mind a major one. As a kid in Japan, I lived through lots of little quakes. They were no big deal. If the quake seemed serious or went on too long, we’d simply go outside and wait. But there was never a major quake when I lived in Japan.

In the 1990s, on a trip to Japan with my mother, an earthquake hit just after I checked into a hotel in Sapporo. I was hanging up shirts and ...

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Nikkei View

A semi-Japan Town in Manhattan

The ebb and flow of New York neighborhoods is a great example of how cities evolve.

When I attended Pratt Institute in the late 1970s, the East Village neighborhood in Manhattan along St. Marks Place (8th Street becomes St. Marks Place east of 3rd Ave.) was a haven for punk rockers and hipsters, with used record stores (this was pre-CD) and tattoo shops. Drugs were a currency on the street, and leather the couture of choice.

I can recall walking the block of St. Mark’s between and 3rd and 2nd Ave. shopping for rare British import albums and marveling ...

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Nikkei View

The World Still Needs Min Yasui

It’s easy to lose sight of someone’s national reputation if that person is a part of the local fabric.

I'm reminded of this fact about the late Minoru Yasui, who died in 1986 after a long career as an attorney and community activist. In Denver, he’s best known as the executive director of the Denver Commission on Community Relations from 1967 to 1983. He’s often credited as the man who was so respected within Denver’s ethnic enclaves that he prevented the city from going up in flames of riot during the summer of 1967 ...

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Nikkei View

Japanese American identity – How do I feel when someone says “Gil-san”?

I had an interesting thread of conversation the other day on Facebook, after someone sent me a friend request that ended with the person (he’s Caucasian) calling me “Gil-san.”

He wrote this in good cheer and good faith, and as a sign of collegial respect. I know that. But it struck me odd somehow, that non-Japanese people (usually Caucasians) throughout my life have assumed that it’s perfectly normal to call me “Gil-san,” or to say “konnichiwa” (“hello”) or “sayonara,” as if I speak Japanese, or better yet, that I appreciate someone else assuming that I speak Japanese.

I ...

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Nikkei View

Happy New Year, Japanese-style

Unlike other Asian cultures, the Japanese don’t celebrate Lunar New Year. Instead, they celebrate the Western calendar New Year, January 1, and some of the special holiday traditions have been handed down to Japanese Americans over the past century.

Japanese New Year’s traditions are different from Western (or at least, American) ones: First of all, New Year’s Eve isn’t the big holiday, and the focus isn’t on partying and waiting until midnight on Dec. 31 to watch the Times Square ball slide down, or to see fireworks or make hearty toasts. A lot of us ...

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