Rio Imamura

Rio Imamura, a U.S. citizen for close to 30 years living in New York City and Southern California, returned to Japan upon retirement in 1994. His Japanese translation of Dear Miss Breed written by Joanne Oppenheim was published by Kashiwa Shobo, Tokyo in 2007.

Updated February 2012

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Revisiting Balboa Park Japanese Friendship Garden

I wish to dedicate this article to: Will Hippen, Jr., Clara Breed, Marge Wells, Mark Umemura, Ken Takada, Denny Ikeda, and George Woodworth. 

Recently, I had the chance to re-visit the Balboa Park Japanese Friendship Garden. I tried to rely on my memory to find the entrance from the Organ Pavilion, the center of San Diego Balboa Park. I found myself at the VIP (or service) gate which was locked to the general public. Once I realized I was at the wrong gate, I stopped two girls who seemed to be returning from lunch and told them that I had …

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Imamura Church

Edson Aoki, a Japanese Brazilian, whom I just got to know, visited Tachiarai1, Fukuoka recently. Tachiarai, easily reachable by train from Kurume (20 km further inland) or Fukuoka Tenjin Station, is a quiet rural country with rice paddies. We can’t imagine what it looked like during World War II. Tachiarai back then was heavily bombed because the Imperial Army Air Force base was there. It was the training center of young pilots and AA artillery armies. I barely remember the odd name Tachiarai in the Kamikaze pilot song of my younger days, but I didn’t know where it …

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Japanese Drifters to Mexico

Captain Jukichi’s Diary led me to the tale of Zensuke, another sea captain of the ship Eijyumaru, a vessel boastfully designated as “Sengokubune,” or One Thousand Koku boat (see previous post “Trip to Discover Kyoto History” regarding definition of “koku,” a unit of volume), measuring roughly 15 meters long, single-masted, capable of carrying 150 tons of rice and other cargo. However, the term 1000 Koku was loosely used. The English translation of Sengokubune was large junk-style ship. So chances were slim that this not-so-first-class Sengokubune could ride out a storm once out on the rough open …

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Samurai Missionary

I tell you the truth, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.

—John 12:24


It was close to my retirement when browsing the UCSB Library, I found the book titled Samurai Missionary published in 1985. While perusing the book, the name “Imabari” jumped out at me and caught me by surprise.


This is the city in Ehime Prefecture on Shikoku Island where I was born and raised. I never imagined Imabari as a stage for international drama for the scriptures. …

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Nikkei Chronicles #1—ITADAKIMASU! A Taste of Nikkei Culture

The Washugyu Dream Venture

Ever heard of Washoku? It’s a culinary and cultural tradition of Japanese dishes now quietly prevailing worldwide. If you know Washoku, then Wagyu may not sound peculiar.


“Wagyu” is defined by Larry Olsmed, who wrote “Kobe Beef Scam” in the Forbes magazine (4/13/12) as follows: “Wagyu, on the other hand, means ‘Japanese Cattle’ and refers to the entirety of the nation’s breeds.” Beyond that, its definition gets vaguer depending on who you ask and what country you are in. It could be taken to refer to all cows in Japan, including the Western and European breeds with which we …

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