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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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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As You Like It

Chapter Six—“We Believe in America”

We are sitting in a restaurant in Battery Park, which is on the south side of the island of Manhattan.

Morgan tells me that it is a new restaurant that opened a few months ago. Apparently restaurants open and close in America all the time. I don’t know if he’s telling me this as a cautionary tale. But I won’t be discouraged. Red Okonomiyaki and I will make it in New York City.

I try to order modestly. Yes, I’m holding back. Since this was Morgan’s invitation, I’m assuming that he will be paying ...

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Chapter Five—Death by Yelp

“This was just amazing.” Morgan Taketa says after wiping his lips with a cloth napkin that was hand-sewn by my best friend, Risa. He still has a bit of brown okonomiyaki sauce in the corner of his mouth, but I am not going to say anything. Morgan the banker can make my restaurant dreams come true in New York City. He could have come dressed to dinner as the Kentucky Fried Chicken ojiisan and I would have treated him like an emperor.

“So this is your first time to have okonomiyaki?” Risa asks. She has also sewn a prototype apron ...

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Chapter Four—Deep Like the Rivers

Deep’s Butcher Shop in East Harlem is nothing like the ones I’ve seen in other parts of New York City. Yes, there’s a large refrigerated case of meats, but the walls, for the most part, have cases of books. And not cookbooks, but books of poetry and classics, ones that I attempted to read in translation in high school in Japan. I never was good in literature.

Through two small speakers mounted on the ceiling sounds Bob Marley. I know Bob Marley through my ex-boyfriend, Makoto, who took me to various reggae bars throughout Hiroshima. In between ...

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As You Like It

Chapter Three—The Perfect Cut

My feet are swollen and sore, and it’s all because of pork belly. In Japan we had a special distributor which brought our okonomiyaki restaurant fresh cuts two times a week. They were sliced thin like American bacon with just the right amount of marbling. The slices cooked perfectly on our grill—not too crisp, not too limp.

Risa, my best friend and roommate, had told me about Chinatown and Little Korea. I couldn’t believe how expansive Chinatown was—long blocks filled with restaurants and small businesses all crammed together. Risa had even worked at a Japanese maid ...

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