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Nikkei Chronicles #2—Nikkei+: Stories of Mixed Language, Traditions, Generations & Race

“Shokuiku” activities at Nijiya Market Thinking about the future of shokuiku activities that pass on the Japanese food culture in America

Opening of Japanese Supermarket in San Diego

Today, we can find Japanese food in some supermarkets across America. In big cities, it’s not so difficult to get different kinds of Japanese food such as Japanese seafood, meat, seasonings and snacks. Especially if you go to a Nikkei supermarket, you can find a whole variety of food products – the exact things that you can get in Japan. Nijiya Market is one of the Nikkei supermarkets in America, which has expanded its business from California.

In 1986, Nijiya Market opened its first store in San Diego. Currently, it has 13 stores in three states: California, New York and Hawaii. When they first opened, there weren’t many Japanese food products available for Japanese people, and they started the business with strong determination to spread the great taste of Japanese food to people all over the world.

Photo: Nijiya Market in Little Tokyo, LA. Opening their first store in San Diego back in 1986, they now have 13 stores, centering around California and in two other states, New York and Hawaii.

History of shokuiku activities at Nijiya Market

Introducing the Japanese food culture in Gochiso (Gourmet) Magazine

Nijiya Market publishes a quarterly magazine called “Gochiso Magazine” four times a year. In this magazine, which has been out there since the opening of their business, not only do they introduce their own products but they feature recipes of Japanese dishes and the history of Japanese food culture as well.

For example, in a feature article about Japanese sweets, they offer information about matcha (powder green tea), its ingredients and effects on health and introduce some recipes of Japanese sweet desserts that use matcha, rice flour and red bean paste. For the New Year’s holidays, they feature osechi dishes and educate readers on Japanese food with information about why osechi dishes are eaten during the New Year’s holidays, their significance and history.

Photo: Gochiso Magazine is available in Japanese and English and is distributed for free at all stores throughout the country. Magazine copies can be gone in a matter of hours, especially at stores in the areas where there is a high population of Nikkei people. On the website, they publish some original recipes of Japanese dishes sent from magazine readers. Recently, they are also active online, introducing recipes of Japanese dishes in YouTube videos.]

Introducing Nijiya Organic Farm

New shokuiku activities of Nijiya Market

Currently, Nijiya Market is taking part in a new form of shokuiku activities, different from the ones that introduce the Japanese food culture. To be more specific, it’s a series of shokuiku activities of cultivation and sales of organic vegetables.

Photo: The word “ORGANIC” is largely printed on their store signboard which helps spread the shokuiku message to customers through product advertisements.

At Nijiya Market, you can find organic vegetables on sale, which are grown in their own farm in San Diego with minimum use of pesticides harmful to human body. In addition, they also develop and sell original food products such as Japanese sweets that use vegetables and fruits harvested at Nijiya Farm. In this way, they are spreading a new form of shokuiku activities, while passing on the Japanese food culture, in which they introduce healthy ways of growing crops and show vegetables and fruits in product forms. 

Photo: Organic vegetables lining up in the vegetable section at Nijiya Market

It’s no surprise that they are taking this new approach now. For the past decade, Nijiya Market has been involved with such activities with the strong belief of its founder – We want to make contributions to communities through tasty and healthy Japanese food – since the opening of their first store in San Diego.

Through their business operation in America, they have achieved to raise the profile of Japanese food, reaching out not only to Nikkei communities but people all around the world, especially in Asian countries such as China and Korea. This new form of shokuiku activities helps each community build a better lifestyle by introducing ways to care for their health and eating habits in such a multi-racial, multi-national, multi-lingual land of America.

The activities of Nijiya Market are expected to evolve more, as a new form of shokuiku so uniquely produced by a Nikkei supermarket which has the ability to surpass all boundaries of language, tradition and race. Taking a step further from being a means of passing on the Japanese food culture, their new shokuiku activities are a great approach to help community members live a healthy life with Japanese food, and we hope that they will continue the work in the future.

Photo: As part of shokuiku to customers, they explain in English about the importance of organic products and why they are more expensive than regularly-produced vegetables.


© 2013 Asami Goto

26 Stars

Nima-kai Favorites

Each article submitted to this series was eligible for selection as favorites of our readers and the Editorial Committees. Thank you to everyone who voted!

business community Food education Nijiya Market

About this series

Being Nikkei is inherently a state of mixed traditions and cultures. For many Nikkei communities and families around the world, it is common to use both chopsticks and forks; mix Japanese words with Spanish; or celebrate the New Year’s Eve countdown with champagne and Oshogatsu with ozoni and other Japanese traditions.

This series introduces stories explore how Nikkei around the world perceive and experience being multiracial, multinational, multilingual, and multigenerational.

Each piece submitted to the Nikkei+ anthology was eligible for selection as our readers’ favorites. 

Here are their favorite stories in each language.

To learn more about this writing project >>

Check out these other Nikkei Chronicles series >>