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

For many Nikkei around the world, food is often the strongest and most lasting connection they have with their culture. Across generations, language and traditions are often lost, but their connections to food remain.

Discover Nikkei collected stories from around the world related to the topic of Nikkei food culture and its impact on Nikkei identity and communities. This series introduces these stories. 

 Our Editorial Committee selected their favorite stories in each language. Here are their favorites:

To learn more about this writing project >>

Check out these other Nikkei Chronicles series >>

food en

Grandpa Tanaka's Pilgrim Stuffing

Thanksgiving is the quintessential American holiday, but, as a young Sansei, I didn’t believe there was any connection between my Japanese family and the Mayflower pilgrims who colonized New England.

I grew up in the West in the 1960s and ’70s, often in towns without much diversity, where I didn’t feel very pilgrim-like or “American,” that is, Caucasian. I secretly longed to wear the pilgrim’s black dress and white apron with ringlets under my bonnet. Instead, looking more like Squanto and Pocahontas, I was cast as the noble “Indian” in school pageants—wearing my long hair in two braids, with …

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food en ja es pt

Hot Dogs and Asparagus?

I don’t know how to begin this story, but I know it starts with my grandmother—the Japanese one. Actually, she’s Japanese American. More specifically, she’s nisei. Not only was she the best cook I ever knew, she was also one of the most creative people I’ve ever seen in the kitchen. Once when I was a teenager she made hot dogs with asparagus in homemade teriyaki sauce. It was one of the best dishes I’ve ever tasted in my life, and it was the first and only time she ever cooked those foods together.

Let me back track. Stockton, California, …

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food en ja es pt

Yaki-Saba Bento and Shime-Saba Sushi

My 17-year old, Brazilian-born son currently attends high school in Florida, and he spends all his time playing competitive golf.

With his high school graduation coming up next year, he is entering a crucial time in deciding on which college to attend. As part of that process, he is traveling this summer to compete in junior golf tournaments across North America.

Among the preparations we need to make for golf tournaments, the key essentials are securing lodging, transportation, and preparing meals. These days, arranging hotels and rental cars have become quite convenient—from the moment you make a reservation online, there …

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food en

Seeking It Out: A Hapa Shin-Nisei’s Grasp at Culture

My favorite large Japanese market is about 30 miles away, which feels pretty far away when there’s a nice family-owned JA market just down the street. But at times like this, it’s definitely worth the journey. This week they had their Hokkaido food fair. I love going to Mitsuwa’s various regional food fairs for one yummy reason—they almost always feature a variety of freshly made regional fishcakes, each type featuring a different set of special ingredients. I enjoy the pre-packaged variety too, but nothing compares to expertly prepared fresh fishcake. Regional ramen, bento, desserts, and other specialties make …

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food en

A Japanese-Jewish Family Remains Bonded through Shared Recipes

My earliest memory is a black and white image of my young, round face peering over my parent’s dinner table. I can still smell the sweet and endless aromas that swelled from the kitchen and made their way into the dining room that anchored our family home.

All curious-faced and wide-eyed, I would climb on my father’s large art books to catch a glimpse of my mother’s Japanese and American dishes that warmed my every sense and sensibility.

On any every given night, I was thrilled to see warmed platters of shabu-shabu or sukimono; tsukemono or takoyaki, and …

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athlete Brazil california chicago clubs family filipino florida food golf grandmother hawaii holiday houseboy identity issei Itadakimasu JAMsj janm japanese market Jewish korokke Mixed multi-cultural multi-ethnic