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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Baishakunin, Inc.

Chapter Five—Full House

>> Chapter four

“Cool. This going to be a soft-porn gig?”

I look incredulously at Kyle Honda. If it weren’t for the tattoos and the two hoop earrings in his ear, he would look like a fresh-faced baby boy. Kyle is getting his bachelor’s degree in filmmaking in USC and is desperate to work for close to nothing to get any kind of credits on his resume. So, in other words, a perfect fit for my new company, Baishakunin, Incorporated.

“What made you think that this job would involve pornography? This is a legitimate high-class match-making company.”

“Oh, over ...

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Baishakunin, Inc.

Chapter Four—Finding Mrs. Butterworth

>> Chapter three

It’s been a week and I’ve gone to at least ten garage sales, two 99-cents outlets, and five thrift stores to make the headquarters of my new matchmaking service, Baishakunin, Inc., halfway presentable. My best friend Ginne Lee did her part by lending me all this Japanese stuff she had in storage—shoji screens and Japanese bowls—to make everything look authentic.

The only thing missing is a face—the face of my company. I need a Japanese Mrs. Butterworth, a soft, comforting maternal image that I’ll be first to admit I don’t have ...

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Baishakunin, Inc.

Chapter Three—Let’s Make a Deal

>> Chapter two

Ever since I turned 35 (two years ago), everyone has treated me differently. During every holiday dinner, my parents and my younger brother with his wife and two kids look at me pitifully, as if my expiration date has long passed. I’m no longer part of the cool 21-34 crowd on surveys and marathon categories, I’m now part of the 35-44-year-old crowd. Even bag boys call me ma’am and offer to carry my groceries to my car—what are they thinking—that maybe I drive a Super Stock Dodge, the classic Little Ole Lady from ...

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Baishakunin, Inc.

Chapter Two—Eat Your Brussel Sprouts

>> Chapter one

“You actually don’t look too bad, considering,” says Ginnie as we are seated at La Grande Orange Café, the new restaurant on the bottom floor of the Pasadena condo unit I live in.

Now remember—Ginnie Lee is my best friend and about the nicest person I know in the planet, so for her to say not “too bad” actually meant I was wretched-looking. I finally took a shower this afternoon, after not taking one for three days. I had heard on Oprah or some other kind of TV show that Preparation H did wonders on the ...

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Baishakunin, Inc.

Chapter One—The Games People Play

Jamie Kaneko carefully counts out fifteen sheets of toilet paper on her roll, tears on the perforated line, and hands the loose end to me with a smile. “Here you go—now don’t start until I tell you to.”

A couple of young teenagers, holding their toilet paper tails with the tips of their fingers, giggle, while the grandmothers on the couch look a bit confused. The rest of us—veteranos—sit politely, but inside I feel like screaming—like, for once, can’t someone think of anything different—

Jamie raises her arms and then dramatically swishes them down ...

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