A compendium of Japanese American culture – and a look at how it’s not quite Japanese

Release by Stone Bridge Press

Editors’ Note: We are pleased and proud to announce this summer’s publication of Being Japanese American by a long-time AAV contributor Gil Asakawa, whose “more-or-less weekly” NikkeiView column has been a favorite Villager feature for many years now our site.


From immigration to discrimination and internment, and then to reparations and a high rate of intermarriage, Americans of Japanese descent share a long and sometimes painful history, and some now fear their unique culture is being lost.

Gil Asakawa’s celebration of what makes JAs so special is an entertaining blend of facts and features, of recipes, songs, and memories that every JA will want to share with friends and family.

Being Japanese American looks at where JAs came from, their cultural and spiritual roots, how they’ve adapted their customs to their new home, and the importance of food and language in their identity. Also included are interviews with JAs and a look at how it’s hip to be Japanese, from manga to martial arts, plus a section on Japantown communities and tips for JAs scrapbooking their families and traveling to Japan to rediscover their roots.

Gil Asakawa is a Sansei who lives in Arvada, Colorado, with his partner, Erin Yoshimura, and two cats. He works in the news media and has written for newspapers, magazines, and Web sites. He co-authored The Toy Book (Knopf, 1991) and has written a more-or-less weekly column called “Nikkei View” since 1998 that is available online at www.nikkeiview.com.



“With Being Japanese American, Gil Asakawa has put together a terrifically personal, humorous, and honest start-up guide. It’s the kind of book I wish I’d had; then maybe I wouldn’t have given mom and dad such a hard time about such an important part of my identity.”
TAMLYN TOMITA, actress (The Joy Luck Club, Robot Stories)

“Asakawa describes the dramatic push and pull of being Japanese American, blending two conflicting cultures to create something uniquely our own. He takes us on a quirky, high-speed journey through Japanese America with many unexpected turns and sidetrips, reminding us that there is much to be proud of and laugh about.”
STEVEN OKAZAKI, Oscar-winning filmmaker

“For Japanese Americans, a must-read book that will delight you with its humor and amuse you with its insights; for non-Asians, a must-read book if you’re curious about what makes Japanese Americans tick.”
JOHN TATEISHI, National Executive Director, Japanese American Citizens League



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