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

culture en

Japanese American National Museum Magazine

Master Artisans of San Jose: The Nishiura Brothers

If you’ve ever visited San Jose’s Japantown, odds are you’ve stepped in a building constructed by the Nishiura brothers. Born in Nara prefecture and raised in the shadow of ancient temples, the two brothers, Shinzaburo and Gentaro, learned their carpentry skills from their father Tsurukichi, himself a skilled craftsman. The story of the Nishiura brothers and their superb aesthetic reflects how art is often integrated into our everyday lives, for example, within the buildings where we live, worship, play, and work.

Gentaro, the younger brother, came to the United States from Mie prefecture, arriving in Hawai‘i ...

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identity en

The Last Days of Daikon Ashi

When my uncle in Tokyo spotted me in Narita Airport in Japan, he almost breathed a sigh of relief. “Oh, you are like the old model,” he said, picking up my carry-on baggage.

I was 21 years old, and too busy absorbing the rush of businessmen and tourists to register what he said. Later his words were interpreted by my aunt. Although they had seen me when I was 14, they feared that somehow the American air would kick in during my adolescence, transforming me into a bosomy, long-legged Wonder Woman seductress. But I was like Japan’s “old model ...

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Foreword from Nothing Left in My Hands

Although my parents and I visited Watsonville every summer during my childhood, I only became familiar with the name—Pajaro Valley—of this region on the central California coast much later, in my thirties. Before then, Watsonville was just the inaka, the country, where we would travel north several hours from Los Angeles in my father’s white van that carried gardener’s tools most of the year. My father was born in Watsonville but had moved to Japan after his grandfather was killed by a horse on the farm. After World War II, my father returned to Watsonville, in ...

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community en

Nanka Nikkei Voices

Nanka Nikkei Voices: The Japanese American Family

The Japanese American Historical Society of Southern California launched their fourth publication, Nanka Nikkei Voices: The Japanese American Family, in September 2010. The following is a shortened version of the introduction to the volume written by guest editor Naomi Hirahara.

Introduction

I’ve traveled a lot domestically, but I haven’t necessarily spent much time in destination locales. Sure, there have been trips to New York City and Hawaii, but more have been vacation days in the farmlands of California and the wide-open “fly-over” towns in the Midwest.

Along the fog-covered Highway 99 in Central California, where Japanese America on ...

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Baishakunin, Inc.

Chapter Twelve—Matchmaker, Matchmaker

>> Chapter eleven

At least pretend that you’re happy to be here, I scold myself. My best friend Ginnie Lee is getting married. To a nice, decent man. What a concept—two nice people making a lifetime commitment. That’s the mission of my fledgling matchmaking company, Baishakunin, Incorporated, but while business is booming, I’m floundering.

“Um—you’ve taped my finger to my gift.” The wedding guest is right—her manicured index finger is firmly affixed to her white William and Sonoma box with a forest green ribbon tied around it.

I apologize and quickly peel off the ...

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