One strong characteristic that marks the Japanese culture is the constant striving to name and define everything. They have a penchant for labeling ideas, types of food, special occasions, religious ceremonies, the changing seasons, and virtually every aspect of their lives. So it is not surprising that Japanese and Japanese ...

Guilty Pleasures


As with most people who subscribe to cable television, I suffer through an endless number of inconveniences, indignities, and monetary insults. When the signal becomes sporadic or even fails, I call and get a recording that tells me to unplug my box and let it reboot, which seems like the ...

Ishikawa's Moment


In a previous article, I highlighted the fact that the Dodgers and the Giants had three Japanese Americans on their rosters (Darwin Barney and Brandon League for the Dodgers, Travis Ishikawa for the Giants) and how, to my knowledge, this had never happened before. I also pointed out that Ishikawa ...

Japanese American Major Leaguers


Sitting in the upper deck overlooking right field at AT&T Park in San Francisco for the first game of the Dodgers-Giants series in September, I was feeling pretty low. As part of the biennial Komai Family Reunion this year, our Northern California relatives had arranged to get tickets to ...

Don't Forget Pat Suzuki


Do you know who Pat Suzuki is, and why she is significant to Japanese Americans? I suspect you would have to be at least as old as me (a Sansei born in the early 1950s) to recognize her name and know that she was a popular singer. Any Nisei would ...

Nisei Week 80th Anniversary


Eighty years ago, the inaugural Nisei Week was organized in Little Tokyo in 1934. A distinctive Nikkei community event that was actually created as a marketing campaign, Nisei Week reflects the bicultural character of its founders. It has a parade that features ondo dancers (which explains why the parade with ...

Little Tokyo's Revival


This year, 2014, Little Tokyo is celebrating its 130th anniversary. Which is remarkable, since it has constantly been threatened with abandonment and extinction since World War II. In fact, twenty-two years ago, I thought Little Tokyo was dying. But in each case, a common remedy allowed the historic Nikkei neighborhood ...

Understanding My Mother's Life


My mother passed away last October at the age of 92 and there are so many things about her that I will never know. Mom had a tumultuous early life, but as the youngest of her four children, I was privy to few of her darkest moments. When she and ...

Nanka Nikkei Voices

Revival: The Rafu Shimpo


On April 4, 1942, The Rafu Shimpo produced its final edition before everyone of Japanese ancestry was unconstitutionally forced to leave the West Coast by the U.S. government. No one, least of all my uncle Aki Komai, could know with any certainty if this was an interruption in the ...

Norman Mineta: A Lifetime of Public Service - Part 2


Read Part 1 >>REDRESSFor Norm Mineta, passing redress is still his most satisfying achievement in Congress. The formal push came when the National Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) passed a resolution in 1978 advocating for legislation. Representatives Mineta and Robert Matsui and Senators Daniel Inouye and Spark Matsunaga worked together ...

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Chris Komai is a freelance writer and a community relations’ specialist, who has been involved in Little Tokyo for four decades. He was the Public Information Officer of the Japanese American National Museum for over 21 years, where he handled publicity for the organization’s special events, exhibitions and public programs. Prior to that, Komai worked for the Japanese-English newspaper The Rafu Shimpo for 18 years as a sports writer, sports editor and English editor. Komai also serves on the Little Tokyo Community Council Board and on the Little Tokyo Public Safety Association board. He has been a member of the Southern California Nisei Athletic Union Board for basketball and baseball for 40 years. He earned a B.A. degree in English from the University of California at Riverside.


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