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This is one of four photos submitted by John Nishio for Discover Nikkei’s Nima-kai 2020-2021 Oshogatsu Traditions photo activity.


My Grandmother Takei was famous in the Japanese American community for her cooking. Her chicken teriyaki and nishime were always the best at the many Ken, and church picnics she attended.

Her 13-ingredient Makizushi was famous among the Issei women and she was most proud of this dish. I last ate it in 1965 at her house in Tokyo. I spent the eight years trying to duplicate the flavor of that makizushi, and finally found the right combination of ingredients: Unagi; Dashi Tamagoyaki; Sakura Denbu; Kampyo; Boiled Spinach; Mashed Umeboshi; Sliced fresh Shiso Leaves; Cucumber; Red Sliced Sushi Ginger; Simmered Shiitake slices; Wasabi; Nori; and Sushi Rice. It took fifteen tries to get it right, and I am a retired sushi chef.

Oba-chan always made her makizushi for mochi tsuki gatherings and I now continue her tradition in her honor. Whenever I make her makizushi, I feel like she is standing right behind me. I became a professional chef because she taught me how to cook.

editor — Last modified Jan 08 2021 8:27 p.m.

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Nima-kai Oshogatsu Traditions

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