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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community en

Immigration, Refugees, and the Gift of Citizenship

I was born in Japan, but because my father was born in Hawaii when it was a U.S. territory, I am an American citizen. I didn’t have to take a test, and recite an oath of allegiance. After my family moved to the States in 1966, I remember helping my mother, who’s from a small town in northern Japan, study for her citizenship test. I was eight years old.

I don’t remember the ceremony when she repeated the oath and was given her naturalization certificate, but it was probably something like the wonderful ceremony I saw ...

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food en

Real Ramen Is Finally Coming to Denver, and It’s About Time

I grew up in Japan when I was a kid, and have vivid memories of bowls of ramen and soba noodles stacked high in bowls or boxes, being delivered by crazy men riding bicycles through crazy Tokyo traffic like the photo on the right. Ramen had been around since the late 1800s in Japan, but it was during the post-WWII years, and particularly in the 1960s, when ramen became the ubiquitous Japanese comfort food it is today.

I loved ramen as a child, and when my family moved to the states in the mid-’60s I was sad to find ...

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culture en

Being JA v2.0 Is Here, And I’m So Glad To Be JA!

During a recent trip to San Francisco to attend the annual conference of the Asian American Journalists Association, I squeezed in two readings from the new revised edition of my book, Being Japanese American. The two events reminded me why I wrote the book in the first place and why I love speaking to JA audiences. I love being JA!

The first edition was published in 2004, but a lot has happened since then: Japanese culture is even more popular now in the US than a decade ago, but so is Asian American culture in general. The Internet was around ...

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identity en

What are words worth: Hapa, Hafu, or Mixed-Race?

I’ve recently finished writing revisions for a new edition of my book, Being Japanese American: A JA Sourcebook for Nikkei, Hapa…& Their Friends, which will be published this June by Stone Bridge Press.

I mention this not just to pimp the book to you all (speaking of which, you can pre-order the book now), but because I wrote in the new foreword how I have decided not to use the word “hapa,” at least for now.

Instead, I wrote that I’ll use “mixed race” instead.

Hapa is a word originally used in Hawaii to describe mixed-race people, like ...

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media en

“Fresh Off the Boat” could be the tipping point on TV for Asian Americans

There’s a new ABC sitcom being aired starting in February that I can hardly wait to see. I’m hoping Fresh Off the Boat will finally be a show where I can see people like me acting the way my family acts, with funny American situations but filtered through an Asian cultural perspective. I expect it’ll be a moment of critical mass for Asians on the U.S. pop consciousness.

It’s about time.

As a baby boomer, I grew up with very few Asian Americans on television. Few enough that everyone stood out. Even until recent years ...

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