Naomi Hirahara

Naomi Hirahara is the author of the Edgar Award-winning Mas Arai mystery series, which features a Kibei Nisei gardener and atomic-bomb survivor who solves crimes, Officer Ellie Rush series, and now the new Leilani Santiago mysteries. A former editor of The Rafu Shimpo, she has written a number of nonfiction books on the Japanese American experience and several 12-part serials for Discover Nikkei.

Updated October 2019

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Historias nikkei de Oshogatsu 2017 - Parte 1

En nuestro boletín electrónico del mes de enero, Discover Nikkei publicó un aviso solicitando historias de Oshogatsu. Habíamos pedido a nuestros lectores nikkei de todo el mundo que nos muestren, a través de fotografías y palabras, cómo dieron la bienvenida al Año Nuevo. Hemos recibido varias historias en inglés, japonés y portugués. Una de ellas, escrita por Justin Inahara (inglés), era tan larga que tuvimos que publicarla de forma separada. El resto de historias están reunidas a continuación para que tengan el placer de leerlas. ¡Disfrútenlas ...

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Ten Days of Cleanup

Chapter Five—Smell of Water

I only had seven days to get rid of everything in my client’s storage locker. So far, I had disposed of—no, preserved—some historic family photographs from World War II as well as given away vintage car parts to life-long friends who like to restore old vehicles. Next were dark green trash bags filled with I don’t know what.

Sycamore was out of Zoom school early and accompanied me to the locker. She had already grown so much that spring of the pandemic. I was glad that her teacher and classmates couldn’t see that her pants ...

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Ten Days of Cleanup

Chapter Four—Great Balls of Fire

Now that all the miscellaneous orange packages were out of my client’s storage container, I saw something large wrapped in blue. I removed some red packages that were resting on top of it and place them in one corner of the container. The blue package was long and felt metallic.

My daughter, Sycamore, stayed in the car, playing a game on her iPad as I tore at the paper. Inside was indeed something metal. In fact, three things. Pieces of what looked like a car grille.

I could have easily tossed this into a rubbish bin. But based on ...

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Ten Days of Cleanup

Chapter Three—The Curse of Mottainai II

Clement of the Japanese American museum called me back an hour later. His hunch was right: the photos and the name plate in the mystery storage unit were connected to this Tokko Kinjo at a retirement home in Boyle Heights. He had even touched base with Tokko’s eldest son, who lived in Alhambra.

“I’m sorry,” Clement said to me over the phone. “The children don’t want you to be interacting with the father, even virtually.”

I let out a sigh. I had ten, no, now nine days, to empty a storage unit in Pasadena. And so far ...

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Ten Days of Cleanup

Chapter Two—The Curse of Mottainai I

While many post-World War II Japanese families were all about discarding old tansu and kimono, my mother closely held to the value of mottainai, that it was a disgrace to throw something away before its time. In other words, as long as an object had not completely disintegrated, she was against throwing it away.

We were from a small town, Minamiawaji, on Awaji island in Hyōgo prefecture. Our family house was an old wood-framed structure that should have been torn down years ago because of termites and its exposure to the elements. But my parents continued to live there, along ...

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