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 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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The Nihongo Papers

Chapter 5

>> Chapter 4

Carlos Yamashita knew that the old man was practically blind to begin with, but since the three of them had arrived in California, Bisabuelo’s sight had worsened. He still stayed alone in the neighboring hotel room, which was more than fine with Carlos. As soon as Bisabuelo awakened in the morning, however, he would call Carlos and his father’s room. Usually Father had left for work already, so it would be up to Carlos to answer the phone by the first ring. If he waited until the second, or ay dios mio, the third ring, Carlos ...

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The Nihongo Papers

Chapter 4

>> Chapter 3

Phyllis Hamakawa felt the scent of the incense wash over her as the Buddhist priests chanted, groaning almost like summer cicada. The whole sanctuary in the new church seemed to pulse as the line of black-suited people, friends and strangers, either embraced her or bowed in front of her. A few feet away was Baa-chan in her oak casket, her hands, speckled with age spots, carefully arranged as if she were clasping them together. She was in her favorite gray dress. A woman my age should never wear bright colors, Baa-chan would say to Phyllis whenever she brought ...

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The Nihongo Papers

Chapter 3

>> Chapter 2

Haru Shishido reached out for the dashboard as their Model T truck hit some potholes in the dirt road. Papa was going much faster than usual. If Mama was in the car, she would be saying, “Papa, abunai.” Papa, danger. But Mama was at home resting with the baby. Auntie Himeko was with her. Auntie, who was visiting from Sacramento, was a stern woman who lost her patience with Haru. So when Papa rushed to the car to do some errand, Haru chased after him, eager to get away from her crying younger brother and her cranky auntie ...

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