Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | Perspectives on Asian-American culture through the lens of identity, history, and experience
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When the word “veterans” comes up in conversations within the Japanese American community, I suspect most of the time the image the word conjures is a picture of Nisei soldiers of the 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team fighting during World War II.
When I was a kid, I used to tell people who asked what generation I was, that I was “Ni-hansei,” or second-and-a-half. That’s because although my father was a Nisei born in Hawaii (technically a Kibei because his family moved to Japan in 1940 and he was stuck there during the war, but that’s another essay), I was born in Japan.
All the recent controversy over “whitewashing,” Hollywood’s habit of casting white people in Asian roles, got me thinking about how Japan has been portrayed in films over the years. Because I was born in Japan, my earliest movie memories are chambara, or samurai (and especially ninja), movies that I watched in black and white on television. We didn't get to see many movies in theaters, but my mom used to take my brother and me to Disney features when they opened, riding the trains with us to the cinema. After we moved to the States, I treasured American films that were set in Japan. There haven’t been a whole lot but it’s interesting to see how Hollywood depictions have showed Americans’ stereotypes of Japan, and how that’s changed over the years. Here are a few (Click the images to purchase the films):

The recent 72nd anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima went by quietly on American news (in part because there’s just so much news to cover exploding out of our own White House). So on Aug. 6 I turned to the one place I knew would give the commemoration of the bombing its due coverage: NHK World, Japan’s English-language public television...

Like many people, and especially many Japanese Americans, I’m a big fan of George Takei. I’ve followed his career since I first saw him in the role of Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu in the original 1960s television “Star Trek” series and as he reprised the character in subsequent Star Trek movies in the 1970s and 1980s. Instead of fading into pop culture...

The historical story of the Japanese American incarceration during World War II is still not well-known in mainstream American culture and literature. When it comes to books, there are only a handful of books that are based on JAs' wartime experience. After the groundbreaking, angry "No-No Boy" by John Okada in 1957, Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston's "Farewell to Manazanar" was the...

I started my writing career as a music critic and became a journalist with jobs at various mainstream media newspapers and later, websites, and wasn’t much concerned with covering the Japanese, Japanese American or Asian American Pacific Islander communities or issues. I became curious about my roots when my father was diagnosed with lung cancer in the early ‘90s, but...

Vincent Chin rally in Detroit, 1983 (Photo by Victor Yang, China Times) On the night of June 19, 1982, 27-year-old Vincent Chin was celebrating his bachelor's party with friends in a Detroit strip club. He got into an altercation with two white men, and both groups were thrown out. The two men tracked down Chin with the help of a...

Perspectives on Asian-American culture through the lens of identity, history, and experience

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- November 17, 2017

In the "what-we-they-thinking" hall of fame: https://t.co/cjMXah0AVz
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- November 17, 2017

RT @AARPAAPI: When you're stuck in a days-long (yes, days-long) traffic jam like this one in Mongolia, you're lucky to be driving a semi-tr…
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- November 17, 2017

RT @AARPAAPI: A Chinese American caregiving story as told by Hing Lin Sit (Helen) #AAPIshareyourcare #AAPIEnduringTogether #NationalCaregiv…
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RT @DenshoProject: Today we honor the Nisei vets who risked and sacrificed their lives for the same country that was unjustly holding their…
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- November 17, 2017

RT @HeartMountainWY: Rep. Gabbard Recognizes 75th Anniversary of Japanese American Internment @BigIslandNow @gfbnec @TulsiPress https://t.c
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More from Gil Asakawa

Being Japanese American

“A must-read book that will delight you with its humor and amuse you with its insights; for non-Asian, a must-read book if you’re curious about what makes Japanese Americans tick.”

— John Tateishi, National Executive Director, Japanese American Citizens League