Naomi Hirahara

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. Her new mystery series with a female hapa bicycle cop was launched in April 2014 with the publication of Murder on Bamboo Lane. The second in the series, Grave on Grand Avenue, is available now. She authored a 12-part serial for Discover Nikkei titled “The Nihongo Papers” and “Baishakunin, Inc.”

Updated June 2015

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The Nihongo Papers

Chapter 12

>> Chapter 11

Carlos Yamashita’s favorite Japanese superhero was Kikaider. Half blue and half red, Kikaider was a humanoid robot created to save the world from a mad scientist, Professor Gill. Carlos regularly watched old Japanese Kikaider live-action programs broadcast on cable in Paraguay. One of his friends also brought back manga and cartoons of Kikaider from his family’s summer trips to Japan. They spent hours eating rice crackers and talking about the various cartoon panels that had the best action.

“Chaaaange. Chaaaange. Switch on, one, two, three,” then a normal looking Japanese young man, Jiro, would turn into ...

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The Nihongo Papers

Chapter 11

>> Chapter 10

Saburo Shishido looked up at the house. Although vacant, it was still standing. A Victorian, the house was designed by one of the preeminent architects in Watsonville. He and Itsuko had stayed in the round room after they got married. The union had been arranged by their parents back in Wakayama. Itsuko’s parents had done well in America and had returned to Japan, but Itsuko wanted to stay behind in their beautiful house. Her favorite room was the round room, the room without corners. Even though it was harder to clean, the bedroom had represented an unending ...

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The Nihongo Papers

Chapter 10

>> Chapter 9

Jorge Yamashita was in a state of shock. His sweaty hands almost slipped from the steering wheel. Beside him in the passenger seat was his ten-year-old son, Carlos. Behind them sat his late wife’s grandfather, Bisabuelo, and Greg Shishido, the son of Jorge’s boss, gagged and bound with gray duct tape. Pressed against Greg’s stomach was a gun held by Bisabuelo.

“Abuelito, do you have to have that thing in the truck?” Jorge said in Spanish, nervously checking his rearview mirror. He was careful to drive the speed limit. The only thing they needed was ...

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The Nihongo Papers

Chapter 9

>> Chapter 8

“Where is my husband?” Sayuri Shishido repeated, pressing the broken china underneath the woman’s chin. The Asian woman actually must have been a little older than she looked, based on the lines around her neck. She was toned and sinewy, an athlete. Sayuri was more of an academic couch potato, but she had a wife’s anger on her side.

“I don’t—” The woman began to choke, and Sayuri pulled the china back a little but kept a firm grip on the woman’s wrist. The stranger coughed—it sounded real, not fake. She was sitting ...

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The Nihongo Papers

Chapter 8

>> Chapter 7

Greg Shishido slowly awoke. His head first felt like it was filled with cotton balls, and then bang—searing pain, lightning bolts shooting through his brain. He cursed in the darkness, perhaps too loudly because a cool, bony hand quickly covered his mouth. His eyes adjusted to the low light. Peering into his face was an old Nikkei man, his head completely bald. He was so gaunt that his cheeks were sunken in, a skeleton man. Where was he? He struggled to remember. He had gone to that motel to see where Jorge Yamashita lived. He had opened ...

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