ニッケイの視点

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war en

Occupational Hazards

The war is over and parts of the country, including parts of the capitol, are in ruins. US military forces move in as occupiers, serving as a transition until the country can be rebuilt and a new government installed.

Actually, a new government wasn’t installed, at least, not completely. This isn’t Iraq in 2003. It’s Japan in 1945, weeks after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which led to the surrender of Japan and the end of World War II.

A half-century later, Americans have celebrated so much about World War II—the righteousness of the war, the …

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food en

Oodles of noodles: Ramen has quietly become hip in Colorado

Erin and I have always been wistfully jealous of our friends in Los Angeles and San Francisco, for lots of reasons but not least the fact that they can eat killer ramen any night of the week. We have our fave ramen-yas in both San Francisco’s Japantown and LA’s Little Tokyo (“ya” means “shop”). There’s also great ramen to be had on the East Coast—I’ve slurped up wonderful noodles and steamy broth in New York City’s funky little “Japantown” district on the lower East side.

In Denver, for many years we had only one ramen-ya: Oshima Ramen, which was good …

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community en

A semi-Japan Town in Manhattan

The ebb and flow of New York neighborhoods is a great example of how cities evolve.

When I attended Pratt Institute in the late 1970s, the East Village neighborhood in Manhattan along St. Marks Place (8th Street becomes St. Marks Place east of 3rd Ave.) was a haven for punk rockers and hipsters, with used record stores (this was pre-CD) and tattoo shops. Drugs were a currency on the street, and leather the couture of choice.

I can recall walking the block of St. Mark’s between and 3rd and 2nd Ave. shopping for rare British import albums and marveling at …

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war en

The World Still Needs Min Yasui

It’s easy to lose sight of someone’s national reputation if that person is a part of the local fabric.

I'm reminded of this fact about the late Minoru Yasui, who died in 1986 after a long career as an attorney and community activist. In Denver, he’s best known as the executive director of the Denver Commission on Community Relations from 1967 to 1983. He’s often credited as the man who was so respected within Denver’s ethnic enclaves that he prevented the city from going up in flames of riot during the summer of 1967, when racial tensions ripped apart many …

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identity en

Japanese American identity – How do I feel when someone says “Gil-san”?

I had an interesting thread of conversation the other day on Facebook, after someone sent me a friend request that ended with the person (he’s Caucasian) calling me “Gil-san.”

He wrote this in good cheer and good faith, and as a sign of collegial respect. I know that. But it struck me odd somehow, that non-Japanese people (usually Caucasians) throughout my life have assumed that it’s perfectly normal to call me “Gil-san,” or to say “konnichiwa” (“hello”) or “sayonara,” as if I speak Japanese, or better yet, that I appreciate someone else assuming that I speak Japanese.

I do—a little. …

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タグ

book review civil rights Colorado coram nobis denver embracing defeat executive order 9066 food identity japanese american japantown language manhattan min yasui minidoka Minoru Yasui new york noodle occupation army oregon portland post-war Japan ramen