ITADAKIMASU! A Taste of Nikkei Culture

Nikkei Chronicles #1
ITADAKIMASU! A Taste of Nikkei Culture

Nikkei Chronicles #1: ITADAKIMASU! A Taste of Nikkei Culture was our first organized attempt to solicit stories based on a single theme. All of the 49 articles (English 35; Japanese 10; Spanish 4; and Portuguese 3) received from various countries are now online.

Thank you very much to everyone who submitted their Nikkei food stories!

Our Editorial Committee reviewed all of the articles submitted by September 30 and selected their favorite article in each language. Here are their selections!

Editorial Committee’s Favorites

English | Japanese | Spanish | Portuguese


  • Authentic
    By Barbara Nishimoto

    Comment from Nina Kahori Fallenbaum
    This piece’s vivid evocations of homestyle country cooking, as well as loving depictions of parents and family life, will resonate with Nikkei all over the globe. Much complexity is captured in just a few words: the challenges and unity formed by growing up among few other Nikkei, and the happy memory of inarizushi “turtles” made by her mother. “The real cook uses what she has,” says Nishimoto’s mother, evoking a proud tradition of seasonality, flexibility and thrift that endures across the Japanese diaspora. Despite hardships, the love and care expressed through food in the Nishimoto family will resonate across cultures and circumstances.

    Comment from Nancy Matsumoto
    I like the feistiness and honesty of Barbara Nishimoto’s Authentic, and the defiant pride she takes in the way her family doesn’t conform to Asian stereotypes. Her descriptions of the simple “country” dishes her Nisei mother made remind me of dishes my mother and grandmother made—many of them were the same. The way she connects those meals to an authentic, self-created Japanese American identity is both moving and powerful. Although I didn’t grow up feeling as isolated and ostracized, this essay made me feel the author’s pain in a deep way, and it brought back my own childhood sense of the family dinner table as a magic circle where the slights and wounds of the outside world had no place.


    There were so many wonderful stories submitted in English that the committee members had a difficult time selecting their most favorite. They wanted to also acknowledge a second story as a very close second.

    Comment from Nina Kahori Fallenbaum
    There has never been a “quintessential Nikkei experience,” nor does there need to be. But Tamiko Nimura gets pretty close. Her essay sings with descriptions of her family’s favorite Log Cabin Sukiyaki. I can almost taste the sauce she so lovingly describes, with its surprising addition of a North American original, maple syrup.

    Yet her story is universal, too. Anyone who has lost a relative can relate to her affection and curiosity, or the responsibility of “graduating from the kid’s table” to carry on parts of one’s family legacy. For her family, that meant sukiyaki sauce.

    I hope her essay will inspire Nikkei all around the world to hang on to precious recipes while constantly inventing new ones. Each one tells a story.

    Comment from Nancy Matsumoto
    There are so many things I liked about this beautifully written essay. The use of Log Cabin maple syrup as a sweetener for sukiyaki is a terrific example of Issei ingenuity. I love the image of “the quintessential American frontier home” being subverted and turned into the “quintessential Japanese American food,” just as so many Issei and Nisei quietly claimed their right to be both American and Japanese during World War II. The description of the writer’s family as “one that often speaks its community less with words and more with gathering and food,” and the act of making a favorite dish in part to bring the memory of a loved one back to the table are things many Nikkei can relate to as well.




Read more stories >>

We have closed submissions for this series, but you can still share your story on Discover Nikkei. Please check our Journal submission guidelines to share your story!

Editorial Committee

We're deeply grateful for the participation of our Editorial Committee:

We're deeply grateful for the participation of our Editorial Committee:

Participating Publications

Here is a list of participating publications:


If your newspaper is interested in publishing a story(ies) from the Itadakimasu! project, please contact


Thanks also to Patricia Wakida for helping us pull this project together, Jay Horinouchi for designing our cool Itadakimasu! logo, and our wonderful volunteers who help us review, edit, upload, and promote this project!

Disclaimer: By submitting your story, you are granting Discover Nikkei and the Japanese American National Museum permission to post your article and images on, and potentially other publications in print or online affiliated with this project. This includes any translations of your work in association with Discover Nikkei. You, the writer, will retain copyright. Check Discover Nikkei’s Terms of Services and Privacy Policy for more details.