Questions I often get asked as a Japanese-American:
Can you speak Japanese?
My Japanese is pretty poor. It’s kind of a shame when you consider that Japanese was actually my first language and the only one I spoke until I was 5. Then I went to Kindergarten, picked up English, and never looked back.
What generation Japanese-American are you?
I’m a Nisei, a second-generation Japanese-American. That means I was born in the US but my parents are from Japan. My mother was born and raised in Wakayama, my father hails from Miyazaki.
Have you been to Japan before?
Yes, a number of times. The first time was when I was 8 and we visited my father’s hometown of Miyazaki. Then I didn’t go again until I was an adult. Now, I try and go every year if I can.
Can you cook Japanese food?
Do rice, packaged ramen, and frozen gyoza count? (BTW, if I ever post any recipes on this blog they will be courtesy of my mother’s recipe box, so don’t worry!)
When you were a kid, did your parents make you go to Japanese School every Saturday morning?
Of course! The worst part was missing all the cartoons that were on while I was sitting in a cold classroom, shivering and practicing how to write kanji. But no matter how many times I asked my parents if I could quit they’d say NO! And then launch into all these stories about spoiled Japanese-American kids whose parents didn’t force them to go to Japanese school and then these kids grew up and were ashamed of how they couldn’t read or write Japanese. I used to think they were lying but I actually have met Japanese-Americans who tell me how much they regret not having gone to Japanese school. Of course, I don’t tell them how my parents referred to them as spoiled brats.
Does your mom drive a Toyota Camry?
Uh, yes, don’t all Japanese-American moms drive one? And I must be getting old because I’ve considered getting one as well!
Do you stay at the California Hotel when you go to Las Vegas?
I will always have loyalty to the California Hotel! The rooms are cheap, I love getting my Hawaiian food grub on, and practically every person there is a Japanese-American, usually from Hawaii. Hawaiians are the best! They are so friendly and I always make friends with the people sitting on either side of me when I’m hitting the slot machines.
I love anime, do you have any good recommendations on what to watch next?
Do you have a Japanese name in addition to your American one?
I do, it’s Yuiko. To this day, all my siblings still call me that. And my parents call me Yui-chan. But I hate when people outside of my family call me that, it doesn’t matter if they’re Japanese or not.
Do you like Yoshinoya (the one in America)?
Yoshinoya is the best, I probably go there once a week!
What’s wrong with you, don’t you know that Yoshinoya in America isn’t real Japanese food?!
I could find out that it’s cockroach meat and I’d still eat it!