Nikkei Chronicles #6: Itadakimasu 2!: Another Taste of Nikkei Culture

How does the food you eat express your identity? How does food help to connect your community and bring people together? What kinds of recipes have been passed down from generation to generation in your family? Itadakimasu 2! Another Taste of Nikkei Culture revisited the role of food in Nikkei culture.

For this series, we asked our Nima-kai community to vote for their favorite stories and an editorial committee to pick their favorites. In total, four favorite stories were selected.

Here are the selected favorite stories.

  Editorial Committee’s Selections:

  Nima-kai selection:

To learn more about this writing project >>

* Translations of these selected stories are currently in process.


Check out these other Nikkei Chronicles series:

#1: ITADAKIMASU! A Taste of Nikkei Culture 
#2: Nikkei+ ~ Stories of Mixed Language, Traditions, Generations & Race ~ 
#3: Nikkei Names: Taro, John, Juan, João? 
#4: Nikkei Family: Memories, Traditions, and Values 
#5: Nikkei-go: The Language of Family, Community, and Culture 

food en

Natto: A Love Story

I love natto. But it wasn’t always that way. My mom gave me my first taste when I was around seven or eight years old and it didn’t go well. I gagged and begged her for a cup of water to wash the bitter taste out of my mouth. “It’s good for you,” she said, but I swore right then that not a single, slimy, smelly bean would ever touch my lips again.

Growing up, I put it on the same list with things like tamago gohan and tazukuri—weird foods that my parents and grandparents ate ...

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food en

Yes, It Matters: Nisei Cuisine and Japanese American Identity

I have, for years, advocated the celebration and codification of a uniquely Japanese American culture of eating that I have come to refer to as “Nisei cuisine.” Nisei cuisine is the uniquely American food that developed as the “second generation” (first to be born in the USA) of Japanese Americans, generally considered to be those born between 1915 and 1940, came of age and, post-internment, moved throughout the United States, taking part in the development of the great post-war American middle-class.

The foundation of this cuisine are the taste elements the Issei, the first generation of Japanese immigrants, brought from ...

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food en

Fried Chicken and Futomaki

In the documentary film Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight: The Japanese War Brides, Hiroko Tolbert says, “I’m completely American.” Her daughter Kathryn counters, “You know, it’s funny to say how American you are, yet every morning you make miso soup.” Hiroko giggles, “Well, the food is a different story,” she says, and she and her daughter both laugh…and it is.

As we grow older, it seems, my best friend Brenda and I talk about food often. We are the daughters of Japanese war bride mothers and American fathers who were born and raised in the ...

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food en ja es pt

It All Began at Mrs. Miyoko's Boarding House

Dona Miyoko is my mother, who is currently 93 years old. She was only 29 when my father passed away, leaving her with four small children to raise. At that time, my grandmother encouraged her to open a boarding house, offering bed and board to youths from Japanese families who lived in the interior of São Paulo State and came to the capital to study.

She started out by receiving eight boarders who had come to attend college, providing breakfast, lunch, and dinner—or take-outs for those who stayed out all day.

The boarding house was located in a ...

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food en

Calpis, Torikawa, and Yūrei: An Osaka Summer

Memories that inextricably tie together food, family, and childhood can be some of our most lasting and profound. Such memories and related sensations can surface from the depths at the slightest provocation, and via seemingly random sources. Which brings me to the notion that everything truly is connected, and perhaps increasingly so as we age, memories steep and deepen, and the long ago and faraway take on an otherworldly quality.

One of my favorite films is Whisper of the Heart (Mimi wo Sumaseba 耳をすませば) and I never tire of watching it over and over. A 1995 Japanese anime directed by ...

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