Nancy Matsumoto

Nancy Matsumoto is a freelance writer and editor who covers agroecology, food and drink, the arts, and Japanese and Japanese American culture. She has been a contributor toThe Wall Street Journal, Time, People, The Toronto Globe and Mail, Civil Eats, NPR’s The Salt, and the online Densho Encyclopedia of the Japanese American Incarceration, among other publications. Her two forthcoming books are: Rice, Water, Earth, about artisanal Japanese sake from Tuttle, and By the Shore of Lake Michigan, an English-language translation of Japanese tanka poetry written by her grandparents, from UCLA’s Asian American Studies Press. You can follow her blog “Rice, Water, Earth: Notes on Sake” here

Twitter/Instagram: @nancymatsumoto

Updated April 2021

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West Coast Nikkei Eldercare: Planning for New and More Diverse Systems of Care

Part III-2: Multicultural centers in Sacramento and Los Angeles

>> Part III-1

Although it does not specialize in Nikkei senior housing or offer a nutrition program, Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC) is worth examining in the context of embracing an increasingly multi-cultural viewpoint and offering services that match. LTSC Executive Director Bill Watanabe explains that the 30-year-old non-profit began when Little Tokyo was populated mostly by Issei, Japanese nationals, and war brides. The goal was to provide linguistic and culturally sensitive  social services to this community and, initially, to protect low-income residents threatened with eviction by real estate developers.

Over time, the agency has evolved, now providing both …

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West Coast Nikkei Eldercare: Planning for New and More Diverse Systems of Care

Part III-1: Multicultural centers in Sacramento and Los Angeles

West Coast Nikkei eldercare organizations are preparing for a time in the not-too-distant future when Nikkei alone will no longer fill their programs and beds. This was the universal message I heard from the seven organizations I surveyed. Yet at the same time, I sensed a desire to hold on to the Japanese cultural identity that is at the core of organizations such as Keiro Senior HealthCare in Los Angeles and Kimochi, Inc. in San Francisco.

We California Nikkei, especially the Issei and Nisei generations, are a community that formed insular pockets within Caucasian communities. My Issei grandmother, who lived in the …

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When samurai walked the streets of New York

There is a curious gem of an exhibition on now at the Museum of the City of New York, Samurai in New York. The show tells the story of the first official delegation of Japanese to visit the country in 1860, not long after Commodore Matthew Perry forced the ports of Japan to open after 220 years of isolation from “barbarian” foreign influences.


The purpose of the nine-month voyage was to ratify an amity and commerce treaty Japan’s Tokugawa Shogunate signed with the U.S. in 1858. A total of 170 Japanese left from Edo (now Tokyo), including the …

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Friends With Differences: Lange and Adams at the Oakland Museum of California

When you are researching a topic, somehow relevant stories seem to appear all around you. So it was with this Wall Street Journal story today, on two photography sections in the newly renovated Oakland Museum of California. One is on the work of photographer Dorothea Lange, and one on Group f/64, a group of Bay Area photographers that included Ansel Adams, Edward Weston and Imogen Cunningham.


The two exhibitions highlight two opposing currents in the fertile Northern California photographic scene in the first half of the twentieth century. Lange, who learned her craft as a studio photographer, was …

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West Coast Nikkei Eldercare: Planning for New and More Diverse Systems of Care

Part II-2: Nikkei Eldercare in San Francisco and San Jose

>> Part II-1

For those in need of a more intensive level of care than what Kimochi provides, Bay Area seniors can go to Kokoro, a nearby non-profit assisted-living complex that opened in 2003. The facility grew out of a 13-year-long effort by a consortium of church groups, and is headed by a volunteer board of directors, a staff of 27 full-time and 20 part-time employees, and a corps of 25 volunteers, some of whom are old enough to be residents.

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Kokoro (the Japanese word for “heart” that combines notions of heart, mind and inner spirit) is …

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