Naomi Hirahara

Hirahara is the author of the Edgar Award-winning Mas Arai mystery series, which features a Kibei Nisei gardener and atomic-bomb survivor who solves crimes. Her new mystery series with a female hapa bicycle cop was launched in April 2014 with the publication of Murder on Bamboo Lane. The second in the series, Grave on Grand Avenue, is available now. She authored a 12-part serial for Discover Nikkei titled “The Nihongo Papers” and “Baishakunin, Inc.”

Updated June 2015

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The Nihongo Papers

Chapter 10

>> Chapter 9

Jorge Yamashita was in a state of shock. His sweaty hands almost slipped from the steering wheel. Beside him in the passenger seat was his ten-year-old son, Carlos. Behind them sat his late wife’s grandfather, Bisabuelo, and Greg Shishido, the son of Jorge’s boss, gagged and bound with gray duct tape. Pressed against Greg’s stomach was a gun held by Bisabuelo.

“Abuelito, do you have to have that thing in the truck?” Jorge said in Spanish, nervously checking his rearview mirror. He was careful to drive the speed limit. The only thing they needed was ...

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The Nihongo Papers

Chapter 9

>> Chapter 8

“Where is my husband?” Sayuri Shishido repeated, pressing the broken china underneath the woman’s chin. The Asian woman actually must have been a little older than she looked, based on the lines around her neck. She was toned and sinewy, an athlete. Sayuri was more of an academic couch potato, but she had a wife’s anger on her side.

“I don’t—” The woman began to choke, and Sayuri pulled the china back a little but kept a firm grip on the woman’s wrist. The stranger coughed—it sounded real, not fake. She was sitting ...

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The Nihongo Papers

Chapter 8

>> Chapter 7

Greg Shishido slowly awoke. His head first felt like it was filled with cotton balls, and then bang—searing pain, lightning bolts shooting through his brain. He cursed in the darkness, perhaps too loudly because a cool, bony hand quickly covered his mouth. His eyes adjusted to the low light. Peering into his face was an old Nikkei man, his head completely bald. He was so gaunt that his cheeks were sunken in, a skeleton man. Where was he? He struggled to remember. He had gone to that motel to see where Jorge Yamashita lived. He had opened ...

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The Nihongo Papers

Chapter 7

>> Chapter 6

The door opened, allowing a sliver of sunrise to temporarily blind the boy holding a gun in the corner of the Oxnard hotel room. The boy, Carlos Yamashita, squinted and aimed at the silhouette of a thin man in the doorway. Carlos was ready to shoot when the man tumbled forward and collapsed onto the frayed rug. He stayed down and a few seconds later, Carlos could hear the squeak of Bisabuelo’s wheelchair.

“Boy, put that down,” hissed Bisabuelo, quickly wheeling himself into the hotel room and closing the door. In his lap was a long bamboo ...

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The Nihongo Papers

Chapter 6

>> Chapter 5

For weeks after Haru’s baby brother Kei was born, the Shishido household was both loud and quiet at the same time. Loud from the baby’s crying but quiet as if secrets were being muffled in the corners of their dirt floors. Haru herself tried to stay out of her parents’ way. She thought that they would be happy, joyous that there was finally a new member in their family after waiting for so many years. But Mama would often break down as she nursed Kei, and Papa, instead of doting on his new son, spent most ...

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