Bobby Okinaka

Bobby lives in the Japanese island of Shikoku where he is a member of a local government program to revitalize the countryside. His projects are an oral history program of the town of Niyodogawa and trials to improve soil health using wood chips, microorganisms and compost. Prior to moving to the countryside, he lived in Tokyo for 12 years. He is originally from Los Angeles, CA. He writes about life in Japan on his blog:

Updated July 2021

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A Nikkei in Japan

I am an American ex-pat who has been living in Japan for the past 12 years. First, if you didn’t already know, an ex-pat is someone who is living and working in another country. Ex-pats are not necessarily immigrants, but many have taken the deep dive and have adopted their country of choice in everything except for citizenship status. 

Full disclosure, this is my fourth time to live in Japan. I was born here on an American military base to a Sansei father and Japanese mother. We left soon after. I returned to the same base for my teen years. …

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I called my grandmother "Oba-chan"

I called my grandmother "Oba-chan." It is the Japanese word for "grandmother." She was born somewhere in California just before the First World War. Her parents arrived in America by a ship from Japan. My brother remembers her once showing a sepia-toned photo of a Japanese man wearing an American soldier's uniform of that time period. Was he drafted into the U.S. Army for the war? We'll never know the answer to that question because Oba-chan isn't around to answer it. And on top of that, we can't find that photo after cleaning out her house when she passed away. …

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Discover Nikkei in Brazil - Celebrating the Centennial of Japanese Immigration

2008 marks the centennial of Japanese immigration to Brazil. On June 18, 1908, 793 people aboard the Kasato-maru arrived at the port of Santos to start a new life in a new land. For the 1.5 million Brazilians of Japanese ancestry today, the Kasato-maru is their Mayflower and a symbol of their history and identity.

The centennial was celebrated both in Brazil and Japan. In Brazil, Japanese culture was literally paraded down the streets as part of Carnaval. Dancers dressed in samurai and geisha costumes moved to the rhythm of the samba in front of a giant Kasato-maru parade float. …

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My Nisei Week, Our Nisei Week

Saturday, August 16

On Saturday morning I arrived early at the Japanese American National Museum. Yonezawa-san was already there. He is the president of the Miyagi Kenjinkai. Miyagi Prefecture is famous throughout Japan for the Tanabata Festival in Sendai. On the seventh day of the seventh month, the streets of Sendai are lined with colorful decorations called fukinagashi. Yonezawa-san and the Miyagi Kenjinkai made five fukinagashi that we were going to use to decorate the central hall of the museum. The Kenjinkai boss was especially excited to share a part of his culture with the Nisei Week festival-goers.

Four …

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Nikkei Parents’ Day

Nikkei in Los Angeles recognized Parents’ Day on July 27 with a ceremony honoring the 2008 Parents of the Year at the George and Sakaye Aratani Japan America Theatre in Little Tokyo. This year the honor was bestowed upon two families, Kaname and Kuriyo Inaba of Northridge and Haruo and Takako Yamashiro of Gardena. Both families were recognized not only for being role models as parents but for their commitment to community service as well.


Local children participated in the celebration by drawing pictures of their families for the Nikkei Parents’ Day art contest. And there was also a …

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