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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Baishakunin, Inc.

Chapter One—The Games People Play

Jamie Kaneko carefully counts out fifteen sheets of toilet paper on her roll, tears on the perforated line, and hands the loose end to me with a smile. “Here you go—now don’t start until I tell you to.”

A couple of young teenagers, holding their toilet paper tails with the tips of their fingers, giggle, while the grandmothers on the couch look a bit confused. The rest of us—veteranos—sit politely, but inside I feel like screaming—like, for once, can’t someone think of anything different—

Jamie raises her arms and then dramatically swishes them down ...

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1001 Cranes: Excerpt from a new novel for young readers

The following is an excerpt from Naomi Hirahara’s middle-grade novel, 1001 Cranes, which tells the story of Angela Michiko Kato, a 12-year-old girl who has to spend a summer with her grandparents in Gardena, CA while her parents are going through marital problems.

Chapter Ten The Great Gambaru

That night I go to bed early. Early, early at eight o’clock.

I am sticky and my eyes are swollen, but I don’t bother to take a bath, wash my face, or even brush my teeth. And no one tells me I have to. Either they feel sorry for ...

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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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