Nikkei View

This series presents selections from Gil Asakawa’s “Nikkei View: The Asian American Blog,” which presents a Japanese American perspective on pop culture, media, and politics.

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Traveling to Japan With a Loved One Who Has Dementia

My mom has suffered from worsening dementia for years, and when my brothers and I saw increasing signs that she would no longer be able to live by herself, we moved her into a Memory Care Center nearby.

Two years ago, my wife, Erin, and I took the last of several trips to Japan with my mom. She has a brother in Sapporo, and another brother lived in Nemuro, her hometown in eastern Hokkaido, until he passed away in January 2016. His widow, my aunt, still lives in the small fishing town. And in Tokyo, my mom has a distant ...

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When Family Caregiving Isn’t Enough for Your Parent

My brother Glenn and I moved my mom from her house in Lafayette, Colorado, last month to live in a memory care facility nearby. She’s had dementia for a long time, and it’s gotten noticeably worse for the past couple of years. I’m still sorting through how it felt to take her out of her house, and how it feels now.

Junko Asakawa was born and raised in Nemuro, a small fishing town in the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. She grew up in the pre-war years, and was even crowned “Miss Nemuro” when she was a ...

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Rock and Roll and Ramen: Lessons in Appropriation vs Appreciation

My friends (and anyone who follows my social media “food porn” photos) know that I’m a snob about Japanese food. I have strong opinions on the best tonkatsu fried pork cutlets, real vs. fake sushi and Japanese restaurants staffed by non-Japanese who can’t pronounce menu items correctly. And, because I love ramen, I hate bad ramen—and in Denver bad ramen is much more common than the good stuff.

That doesn’t mean I won’t pick up a tray of sushi at a supermarket, or dine at Japanese restaurants that aren’t owned or run by Japanese ...

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A Salute to Our JA Veterans

When the word “veterans” comes up in conversations within the Japanese American community, I suspect most of the time the image the word conjures is a picture of Nisei soldiers of the 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team fighting during World War II.

More and more people might think of the Military Intelligence Service, the lesser-known group of Nisei who served bravely during WWII in the Pacific, island-hopping with General Douglas MacArthur and then helped as interpreters in the US Occupation of Japan. So many of the MIS kept mum about their experience because the government demanded secrecy about their ...

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On writing about the JA community

I started my writing career as a music critic and became a journalist with jobs at various mainstream media newspapers and later, websites, and wasn’t much concerned with covering the Japanese, Japanese American, or Asian American Pacific Islander communities or issues.

I became curious about my roots when my father was diagnosed with lung cancer in the early ‘90s, but it wasn’t until a few years later before I started writing about being Japanese American. I met my wife, who is Sansei, in the late ‘90s and one of the first things she said to me was that ...

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