Stuff contributed by LeahNanako

Maneuvering Margins – Adventures From The Between

Leah Nanako Winkler

It didn’t take long after I moved from a cramped apartment I couldn’t afford on Manhattan’s Upper East Side to a friend’s house in Astoria, a highly cultural yet homely neighborhood in Queens, that I began to notice that my surroundings had become more Japanese. Whether I was buying onigiri …

Five Places That Can Make a Hapa Feel at Home in NYC

Leah Nanako Winkler

For the first six years of my life, I was convinced that the United States and Japan were literally on different planets. During fourteen-hour red-eye flights from Narita to Ohio, I envisioned the airplane as a rocket ship, speeding through the silver clouds in the night sky. I was stupidly …

I Am Job

Leah Nanako Winkler

I was fourteen when I got my first job as a cashier at a Japanese convenience store in Lexington, Kentucky. We sold imported goods like Haichu and Pocky at inflated prices and welcomed each customer with a pleasant “irasshai mase!”


Leah Nanako Winkler

I know that the last time I said goodbye to my Grandfather, he told me he loved me very much. But when I look back at that moment, I can only see blurry flashes of memories that never existed.

A Day in a Life of a Not Quite New York Hapa Who Is Told She Looks Like Winnie Cooper From The Wonder Years

Leah Nanako Winkler

  8:15 a.m.

Nature vs. Nurture - Everything is going to be okay

Leah Nanako Winkler

As a bewildered immigrant child imported to the hills of central Kentucky from metropolitan Japan, I often found solace in torturing small animals.

On Isolation

Leah Nanako Winkler

I saw her picture on my computer screen after I pseudo-accidentally hacked into my boyfriend’s Facebook account. When you’re sharing a disintegrating relationship and a tiny bedroom with a partner, social networking sites left unattended morph into mere temptations of privacy invasion. By frequently using my laptop and forgetting to …

The Hapa Advantage

Leah Nanako Winkler

“Hybrids are better”—Shayne KaoFor as long as I’ve lived here, New York City winters have put me into voluntary solitary confinement. December through March is a particularly bleak period when everyone in the city seems to be wearing only black, and I want to do nothing but crawl under my …

Am I Unstable? Or am I just a Hapa?

Leah Nanako Winkler

I have an early memory of a “bowing war” that occurred between my Japanese grandmother and a visiting neighbor who had come to her home bearing gifts of mochi and tangerines in Shimabara. In my mind, the conversation went like this:

Suupaa Gaijin Justin Baldwin

Leah Nanako Winkler

Justin Baldwin hands me a business card. He is endearingly tense as he begrudgingly mingles at a benefit honoring his mentor Roger Shimomura—the infamous yet acclaimed artist known for his controversial social political art on Asian America. I immediately notice that Justin and I have two things in common.

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Leah is a first generation hapa from Lexington, Kentucky by way of Kamkura, Japan.
She is a writer/director based in Brooklyn, New York and contributes to Discover Nikkei through the A/P/A institute at NYU. Aside from DN, she is an artistic director and a founder of Everywhere Theatre Group ( She is also working on a book on hapa identity. She loves hearing from people at

Nikkei interests

  • community history
  • family stories
  • Japanese/Nikkei food

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