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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As You Like It

Chapter Ten—Kappa Power

I saw my first homeless person in Japan when I was visiting Tokyo. Actually there were a whole group of them on the lower level of a train station. It was winter and snow was on the ground outside.

Hiroshima, though, not so much.

I am, however, on my way to be the first homeless Hiroshima person outside the country. And my best friend and present roommate, Risa, is going to be the second.

I’ve had a place to live in Manhattan due to Risa’s kindness, or should I say the generosity of her European benefactor, Frederick. That ...

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As You Like It

Chapter Nine—Clipped

In Japanese folktales, old women are sometimes cast as the “bad guys.” You see it in “Tongue-Cut Sparrow,” in which an elderly lady clips the tongue of a sparrow who snacks on some rice starch for clothes hanging to dry outside. This mean, greedy woman then pushes her way into the Sparrow World and is offered two gifts—one heavy and the other small. Of course, she selects the big one and is terrorized by some demons who are hidden inside.

Well, in my life, I am terrorized by a demon. One named Norio and he’s not an old ...

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As You Like It

Chapter Eight—Turning Japanese

It takes Gen some time to calm Tom down. After all, I, his enemy, have taken over his grill. It doesn’t matter whether you are from Hiroshima, Japan, or Harlem, New York City. No chef should invade another chef’s cooking space, even if it’s outdoors in the middle of a food festival.

“Maybe I should stop,” I say to Risa, as I flip over another okonomiyaki.

“Are you kidding me? Look at the line. If you don’t give these people what they want, we’ll really be in trouble.” Risa returns to chopping another head of ...

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As You Like It

Chapter Seven—Food Fight

After I was used by Morgan Taketa, I stay in my bed of Amazon packaging and bubble wrap for almost two weeks straight. Unfortunately for my roommate Risa, whose Manhattan apartment I’m staying in, my bed is in the middle of her studio. Risa is the most kind-hearted person I know, but even she is getting tired of it. Her cat, Tamago, less kind-hearted, just hisses at me from the other side of the room.

“Kao-chan, this cannot continue,” she says to me one Saturday. “You need to get up. Take a proper shower—I mean with soap ...

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Nikkei Oshogatsu Stories 2017 - Part 1

In our January e-newsletter, Discover Nikkei put out a call for Oshogatsu stories. We asked our Nikkei readers from around the world to show us, through photos and words, how they welcomed the New Year. We received several stories written in English, Japanese, and Portuguese. One story, by Justin Inahara, was so long that we had to publish it separately. The rest are gathered below for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!

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Desperate Measures of Un-Chanto Woman
By Naomi Hirahara

I made my Hiroshima-born mother cry sometimes because I’ve been so un-chanto since childhood. If I didn’t lose ...

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