Stuff contributed by TKA

The Issei Lexicon

Tim Asamen

For years I wanted to compile a list of Japanese American words and phrases. I am beginning a list for this article with words that, for the most part, came down to us from the Issei generation. I am not talking about standard Japanese terms, such as shoyu (soy sauce ...

Japanese American Name Culture - Part 2

Tim Asamen

Read Part 1 >>

Japanese American Name Culture - Part 1

Tim Asamen

Is it Eisenhauer or Eisenhower? Gonzalez or Gonzales? Yasuzo or Yasudo? Whether they are misspellings, attempts at assimilation, or expressions of individualism, the variations in the spelling of immigrant names make up a distinctive feature of the American experience. (By the way, that is why I am not keen on ...

Coming to Terms with Tenchosetsu

Tim Asamen

On the front page of the English section of the December 24, 2016, issue of The Rafu Shimpo, there was a small photograph of the emperor and empress of Japan. The caption read in part, “Emperor Akihito, accompanied by his wife Empress Michiko, waves to the crowd at the Imperial ...

What Made Them Such Good Farmers?

Tim Asamen

During the early days of agricultural development in California’s Imperial Valley, most of the cotton farmers hailed from Texas and other southern states. They grew cotton as an annual crop. That is, the crop was planted and nurtured only until the cotton was picked. Then the bare stalks were ...

Inaka: Moving from Scorn to Pride

Tim Asamen

I sometimes refer to the Imperial Valley as my little inaka corner of the world. Literally translated, inaka (田舎) means “the countryside” or “one’s native village.” And in adjectival form, it means “rural,” “rustic,” or “provincial.” The Imperial Valley is definitely that; it is farm country in California’s ...

Come Out First – Imperial Valley’s Winter Harvest

Tim Asamen

To create the farming oasis called the Imperial Valley, in 1901 water from the Colorado River was diverted to the middle of the desert that stretches across Imperial County in the southeastern corner of California. The region is notorious for its scorching summer heat; the temperature exceeds 100 degrees Fahrenheit ...

Happy Holidays in the Imperial Valley

Tim Asamen

Ask any Nisei from the south end of the Imperial Valley about their childhood Christmas experiences, and their fond reminiscences inevitably take them back to the Kokubuns’ church. Reverend Jingoro Kokubun was the pastor of two non-denominational Christian churches. In 1920, he founded both the Calexico Independent Church and Union ...

Nikkei and the Way of the Warrior: Samurai Heritage from Issei to Yonsei

Tim Asamen

During my college days I once wrote an essay on the three ideals that I thought best epitomized the samurai: giri (duty), on (obligation), and chū (loyalty). It is no coincidence that a few years later as the coordinator of a Japanese American exhibition in the Imperial Valley Pioneers Museum ...

Samurai Armor in the Imperial Valley Pioneers Museum

Tim Asamen

Were there samurai in the Imperial Valley? The answer is yes, but that’s not why a suit of samurai armor is on display in the Imperial Valley Pioneers Museum. For those of you who have not been to the Pioneers Museum in Imperial, California, it is one of the ...

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About

I am a sansei with an unusual surname from the Imperial Valley in the southeastern corner of California. I have always been a history buff so I became the coordinator of a permanent Japanese American exhibition in the Imperial Valley Pioneers Museum. Consequently,the Nikkei history of the Imperial Valley is my area of focus. My grandparents emigrated from Kagoshima Prefecture so I am also interested in the history of Kagoshima and the experiences of Kagoshima immigrants around the world, but particularly in the United States.

Nikkei interests

  • community history
  • family stories
  • Japanese/Nikkei food
  • Japantowns
  • kenjinkai

Itadakimasu 2! Another Taste of Nikkei Culture

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