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Nikkei Names: Writing Workshop in Anaheim

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Janis Renko Hirohama

My unusual middle name, "Renko," was suggested by my maternal grandfather, Ayabe Takehashi. In a letter to my parents a month before my birth, he told them that a good name for a girl would be Renko. He explained that Ren means a person of spotless integrity or a person of pure heart and clean hands. He added that Ren has the same pronounciation in the English word "Wren," which is a small bird that makes its nest in the desert cactus.

When I was a child, I was self-conscious about my middle name because it was unusual and hard to pronounce. I wanted an "all-American" name like Valerie or Jennifer. But now I have come to embrace Renko as a wonderful reflection of my heritage and a tie to my grandfather.

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Janis Renko Hirohama
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Photo taken and name story provided on September 28, 2014 at the Orange County Buddhist Church as a part of Discover Nikkei’s workshop warm-up excercise in conjunction with the Nikkei ... More »


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