ナオミ・ヒラハラ

(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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Nikkei Detective

Chapter Twelve—Keep on Shining

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We talk about bullying as if it’s a 21st century phenomenon. Boys bullying girls and boys who don’t fit in, the mean skinny girls bullying the dorky fat girls, and it goes on and on. But old farts like me know that unfortunately bullying is nothing new. It’s been around since the beginning of time and it was definitely part of my life in the Seventies.

In Orange County, I created a persona. I was the Hawaiian surfer dude with the puka shells who was always ready to party. It didn’t matter that ...

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Nikkei Detective

Chapter Eleven—True Confessions

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We’re in my LAPD pal’s black-and-white. Officer Doug Brenner makes me sit in the back seat—it’s protocol—like I’m a common criminal, and unfortunately this isn’t the first time for me. You see, I’ve been under arrest in the past, but now I’m a concerned father. My 14-year-old daughter Maddy is missing and I’m going out of my mind trying to find her.

At least Doug has the siren on at full force as we speed down Wilshire Boulevard towards Hancock Park. Certainly beats the bus, which has ...

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Nikkei Detective

Chapter Ten—Following the Doc Martens

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Some people, when faced with a crisis, go ballistic. They run around, their faces red and their voices bellowing. Others get stone cold. I’m in the latter category, which I guess is a good thing because I’m a PI. And right now on one of the hottest days in summer in Los Angeles, I’m freezing as if I was dropped in the middle of Antarctica.

My infuriating, Doc Martens-donning goth daughter, fourteen years old, is missing. And she’s without her cell phone, the anchor of any teenager—heck, any person these days. Maddy ...

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How West L.A. Became a Haven for Japanese-Americans

Long Before It Was the Westside’s Ramen Epicenter, Sawtelle Boulevard Bustled with Japanese-Owned Nurseries and ‘Gardeners’ Colleges’

My introduction to the West Los Angeles neighborhood my parents called “So-ta-ru” came in the 1970s when we visited relatives there. I still am unclear on exactly how we are related—it was definitely on my mother’s side and it may go back to some village in Hiroshima. But for my immigrant mother, these relatives were her only blood relatives in the United States.

The first thing I noticed was how much cooler it was in West L.A. than back ...

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Nikkei Detective

Chapter Nine—The Last Selfie

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“I’m a private investigator. Kevin Shirota,” I flash my license as if it really means something to a woman sitting behind a clear desk in the lobby of Fine Bank. This place is not like any financial institution I’ve ever been in. First of all, there are no tellers perched on high stools, but men and women dressed in high-tone suits that probably cost more than the SUV I had to sell to afford my defense attorney in my DUI case.

“You’ll have to talk to our legal department—” The receptionist is on her ...

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