Created with Sketch.
The Big Root
42 minutes | 6 months ago
Her Adoption Story
This episode is supported by Toshiki’s Patreon patrons. Born in Japan in 1991 and adopted by a Japanese American family in Torrance, California, Camryn Sugita writes a blog titled My Adoption Story (@myadoptionstory) and sits down with Toshiki to talk about her experience. For many adoptees, reconnecting with their birth family is a distant goal, but for Camryn, that’s where her story starts. In the summer of 2017, together with her adoptive family, she visits Takamatsu in Kagawa Prefecture to meet her birth mother, her half sister Sei, and her half brother. Upon returning to the US, Camryn meets Sophie Spiegel, a member of the New York Japanese American community who was born in Japan the same year as Camryn and was also adopted by a Japanese American family. Two introverts, Camryn and Sophie quickly become friends, and Sophie shares that meeting Camryn has encouraged her to seek more information about the circumstances of her own adoption. Camryn’s upbringing in Southern California, surrounded by Japanese language and culture, contributed to her confidence to talk openly about her identity as a transnational adoptee, and at age 23, she gave a speech detailing her adoption for the Nisei Week Queen and Court competition. Camryn shares that, after a series of events following the speech over the next year, her half sister Sei contacts her via social media, eventually leading to their in-person meeting in Takamatsu. The pieces of Camryn’s adoption story fall into place.
38 minutes | 7 months ago
A Soaring Soul
This episode is supported by Toshiki’s Patreon patrons. Toshiki meets Gregory Bruce after a community service activity on September 11 connects their communities. Last fall, Gregory created an installation suspending hundreds of paper cranes above the dining hall of the Food Bank for New York City in Harlem. These cranes or tsuru were gifts from the Japanese American Association of New York, the Consulate General of Japan in New York, and other Japan-related organizations, and he folded hundreds more as he learned about Japanese culture and history. In homage to the lives lost in events such as the triple disaster in Northern Japan and 9/11 and to lift the spirits of Food Bank staff, volunteers, and customers, Gregory named the installation Soaring Souls. After serving in the Vietnam war and pursuing a 47-year career in advertising, he experienced sudden tragedy when a car accident in 2008 led to the death of his beloved wife and an injury that left him financially distraught and socially isolated. Gregory was homeless until a man named Clarence gave him a place to live and introduced him to the senior program at the Food Bank in 2015. By 2017, Gregory was back on his feet, learned how to sew, and started a business called Bows Nouveau (@bows.nouveau). Harnessing his advertising background and embodying his brand, he designs and sells bow ties. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Gregory started making masks out of the fabric he uses for his bow ties, and on his website, customers can purchase matching bow ties and masks. Reflecting on the good fortune he has garnered in the past few years, Gregory expresses his gratitude toward the Japanese American community for embracing his art.
38 minutes | 7 months ago
This episode is supported by Toshiki’s Patreon patrons. In Dallas, Texas, Toshiki invites his mom Mihoko Yamamura to practice the traditional Japanese textile technique shibori. They tie rubber bands, sticks, and twine around items made of white fabric, soak them in indigo dye, and eagerly wait for geometric patterns to emerge. During this family quarantine activity, Toshiki’s mom shares her story about growing up in the mountains of Gifu Prefecture, moving to the United States to learn English, and becoming a Japanese language teacher at a public high school in Texas. Mihoko’s international experiences drive her passion to share Japanese culture with young people, and she feels lucky to be where she is today.
1 minutes | 8 months ago
Welcome to The Big Root
The Big Root is a podcast about everywhere Japaneseness. Hosted and produced by Toshiki Nakashige. Listen to the trailer for Season 2 of the podcast.
41 minutes | a year ago
It Starts with Dashi
This episode is supported by JapanCulture•NYC, the English-language website about all things Japanese in New York City. Toshiki and Susan welcome cookbook author Sonoko Sakai to New York. Ahead of a weeklong press tour promoting Japanese Home Cooking: Simple Meals, Authentic Flavors, Sonoko visits Susan’s apartment kitchen to prepare dashi for her food demos and to make the pickle dish daikon namasu in honor of The Big Root. A writer, teacher, noodle maker, and grain activist based in Los Angeles, Sonoko is passionate about sharing Japanese home cooking to Americans. Her perspective on the authenticity of food has been shaped by her international upbringing, and although globalization has made international cuisine more accessible, her cookbook addresses topics such as sustainability and supporting domestic farmers and fishermen. Through her cookbooks and workshops, Sonoko hopes to educate both Japanese Americans and non-Japanese Americans the essentials of the Japanese pantry. Heating the dry ingredients shiitake mushroom, kombu, and bonito flakes in a pot of water, Sonoko teaches us: It starts with dashi. She uses a cold-brew dashi to build the flavor in our daikon namasu, a traditional New Year dish that embodies the white purity of the beloved winter radish and the red fire of carrot, chili pepper, and hoshigaki. Garnished with the rind of yuzu from Sonoko’s tree in Los Angeles, it serves as the perfect addition to any Japanese homemade meal.
50 minutes | a year ago
This episode is supported by JapanCulture•NYC, the English-language website about all things Japanese in New York City. After the U.S.-Japan Council Annual Conference in Hollywood, Susan visits the Torrance location of the eyewear store JINS with Lynda Gomi and Kazu Gomi. The Gomis share their experiences as an interracial couple, raising a bicultural and bilingual family in Japan and moving to the United States. A blonde woman from the Midwest, Lynda speaks about her time as an English teacher and working mother, and Kazu reflects on his work as a leader of a global communications and technology company. Susan reflects on her own background as the daughter of an interracial couple and admires the Gomis’ perseverance to instill in their children a sense of community and tradition. Surrounded by the wide selection of colors and styles of glasses at JINS, the Gomis tried on a few pairs with the help of Paula Sun, the JINS Los Angeles District Manager. JINS is a Japanese eyewear company with five locations in the US and many more across Asia, and customers can shop online as well. Although they are sometimes compared to the American eyewear store Warby Parker, JINS stands out because of their excellent customer service, competitive prices, and charitable causes. In line with their mission statement “to make the world a better place to see,” customers can donate $5 to one of several Cases for Causes nonprofit organizations in exchange for a special glasses case, including one adorned with cherry blossoms that supports Japanese and Japanese American cultural heritage organizations. Recently having moved from New York, Lynda and Kazu now live in San Jose, and they were excited to hear that JINS also has a location there.
39 minutes | a year ago
Storytelling in the Japanese American Community
This episode is supported by JapanCulture•NYC, the English-language website about all things Japanese in New York City. In collaboration with the New York region of the nonprofit educational organization U.S.-Japan Council, Susan and Toshiki organized an event on how storytelling strengthens people-to-people connections in the Japanese American and US-Japan community. They invited three distinguished guest speakers. Akemi Kakihara, or simply AK, is a Universal Music Japan recording artist, singer, songwriter, and producer. Lyrical music is a form of storytelling, and currently working on her 16th studio album, AK shares her own story growing up in Hiroshima Prefecture, following her dreams of making music, and moving to New York. Michael Ishii is a musician, practitioner of East Asian medicine, and lifelong political activist. Pioneering projects such as the New York Japanese American Oral History Project and Tsuru for Solidarity, he shares how stories of incarceration heals intergenerational trauma and creates political change. Catherine Kobayashi is a news anchor, reporter, and producer for NHK World. Based on her years of journalism expertise, she shares what makes a story newsworthy and how to gain a larger audience. Listen to their full presentations at The Big Root website.
56 minutes | 2 years ago
Music That Heals You
This episode is supported by JapanCulture•NYC, the English-language website about all things Japanese in New York City. Susan sits down with jazz composer and big band conductor Migiwa “Miggy” Miyajima in the lower-level green room at the iconic Birdland Jazz Club in Midtown Manhattan. Born and raised in Ibaraki Prefecture, Miggy was creative and exceptionally talented as a classical pianist. However, throughout her childhood, she was curious about other facets of life beyond music, so she refused to commit her life to become a professional musician. Instead of majoring in music, she studied education at Sophia University in Tokyo, where she experienced a physical ailment that was cured only after joining the university jazz big band. After graduation, she entered the corporate world, becoming Editor-in-Chief of the popular travel publication Jalan, and continued jazz as a weekend hobby. Miggy composed original pieces and received positive reinforcement from her audiences, and unsatisfied with her day job, she eventually pursued music professionally at age 30. She moved to New York in 2012, the year after the Great East Japan Earthquake, and that event made a lasting impact on her career, inspiring a forthcoming piece that features the narratives of the survivors. Big band represents the combination of individuality and teamwork, and Miggy shares her method of telling stories without lyrics. Miggy has been nominated for two Grammy Awards for her work with Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and leads the 17-piece big band jazz group Miggy Augmented Orchestra. This episode features three tracks from the album Colorful (2018) by Miggy Augmented Orchestra. The title track celebrates how everyone is unique and features Quinsin Nachoff on tenor saxophone as well as a sequence of two-bar solos by every member of the band. Inspired by the events of the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011, “Hope for Hope” evokes how one person’s good deeds can ripple to affect many others and features David Smith on trumpet and Alejandro Aviles on soprano saxophone. The episode closes with the album’s introductory track and roller coaster of frequency and rhythm “Ready?” featuring Carl Maraghi on baritone saxophone and Jeb Patton on piano.
48 minutes | 2 years ago
American Ohaka Mairi
This episode is supported by JapanCulture•NYC, the English-language website about all things Japanese in New York City. Please fill out our Listener Survey! Ambassador and Consul General of Japan in New York Kanji Yamanouchi began his fourth post in the United States in October last year, and he has since become a friend among the Japanese American community. With Toshiki as sound engineer and science consultant, Susan and Ambassador Yamanouchi visit The Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx to perform the Buddhist ritual of ohaka mairi, visiting the gravesites of two prominent historical Japanese figures who settled in the United States. Ambassador Yamanouchi offers flowers to Dr. Hideyo Noguchi (1876–1928), a biologist who made seminal discoveries in infectious diseases and is now immortalized as the face of the 1000 yen note, and Dr. Jokichi Takamine (1854–1922), a chemist and philanthropist who founded the social organization The Nippon Club. Appreciating Noguchi’s onigiri-shaped gravestone, Ambassador Yamanouchi shares his personal connections to the scientist, reflecting on trips to Noguchi’s hometown of Inawashiro and on a visit to the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research at the University of Ghana in 2006 with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. After a brief intermission listening to “America” by Simon and Garfunkel, Susan and the Ambassador have the opportunity to open Takamine’s stately mausoleum, and gazing at its stained glass window of Mt. Fuji, they discuss Takamine’s dedication to the Japanese American community. To the Ambassador, friendship is the cornerstone of US-Japan relations, and he praises the importance of community organizations in New York that symbolize the strength and independence of the Japanese spirit.
43 minutes | 2 years ago
Out of the Box
This episode is supported by JapanCulture•NYC, the English-language website about all things Japanese in New York City. We’re about halfway through Season 1 of The Big Root, and we want your feedback! Please fill out the Listener Survey. Susan and Toshiki explore Japanese cuisine at home by opening two cardboard boxes. From Kokoro Care Packages, we enjoy the August Nourishing Essentials Care Package, and we celebrate summer preparing and eating hiyashi chuka, seaweed salad topped with unagi furikake, and a sweet corn rice porridge. Co-founders Lillian Hanako Rowlatt and Aki Sugiyama started Kokoro Care Packages in December 2018 on the mission to spread the health and wellness of Japanese food to people outside of Japan. Reading a pamphlet that translates the Japanese instructions into English and learning about the creators of these products through “Producer Spotlights” on the Kokoro Care Packages website, we appreciate authentic ingredients delivered directly from Japan. Susan pours a sparkling sake cocktail using the Asaya Vinegar 5 Year Aged Red Wine Vinegar from Yamanashi Prefecture, and Toshiki presents a blueberry amazake sorbet (and desperately shapes the slushy dessert into the likeness of the photo in the Kokoro pamphlet). The ingredients in the Nourishing Care Package shined even brighter because of the fresh produce that we ordered from Suzuki Farm in Delaware. In the yasai value set, we find cabbage, cucumber, bell peppers, edamame, shishito peppers, bitter melons, and green onion. Suzuki Farm was founded by Ken Suzuki in 1983 who wanted to bring traditional Japanese fruits and vegetables to the East Coast of the United States. The farm supplies grocery stores (like Katagiri, Dainobu, and Sunrise Mart), restaurants, and residents of New York, Washington, D.C., New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. With a la carte options from Suzuki Farm, we also ordered two photogenic daikon radishes that excited us and Toshiki’s dog Jayden.
60 minutes | 2 years ago
I Don’t Speak Japanese
This episode is supported by JapanCulture•NYC, the English-language website about all things Japanese in New York City. What do Saitama Prefecture native Makoto Suzuki and self-proclaimed “Midwestern Asian” Fumi Abe have in common? They both came to New York to make people laugh. They also speak Japanese, but sometimes Fumi lies about it. Makoto Suzuki is the owner of several Japanese restaurants in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, including Bozu and Samurai Mama. Toshiki visits Samurai Mama to talk with Makoto about his acting career that led him to New York, his eventual shift to the restaurant industry, and the unconventional inspiration to start an udon restaurant in 2010. Makoto’s upbringing in Saitama influences his admiration for the natural qualities of food and the unique style of udon and dashi that he serves at Samurai Mama. Not only does Samurai Mama serve freshly made udon, but the restaurant also serves Japanese cocktails that Toshiki fancies. On a nice summer evening in the back patio, Toshiki has drinks with stand-up comedian Fumi Abe (@thefumiabe). A 1.5-generation Japanese American, Fumi is originally from Chiba Prefecture and grew up in Ohio. He moved to New York for college, and when he was 24, he discovered comedy and tried stand-up for the first time. Still striving to answer the question, “Who am I?” (currently “an Asian bro trying to be woke”) through his comedy routines and his podcast Asian, Not Asian, which he co-hosts with fellow comedian Mic Nguyen, he reflects on the importance of his Asian perspective in the US, where comedians can push political boundaries.
40 minutes | 2 years ago
Best Nail Art Erina Ever Had
This episode is supported by JapanCulture•NYC, the English-language website about all things Japanese in New York City. Susan revisits her regular Japanese nail salon Studio L in the Garment District in Midtown Manhattan, where she speaks with Manami Ichibutsu about nail art. A native of Gifu Prefecture and a painter, Manami started her salon in 2011 and describes how she was inspired to share her art with New Yorkers. Manicures were popularized in the United States before spreading to Japan, but once there, Japanese artists incorporated intricate designs and decorations into durable gel nails. This style of Japanese nail art made its way back to the US and is celebrated in places like Studio L. Susan invites Erina Yoshida, the Chief Operating Officer of the Yoshida Restaurant Group, to try her first Japanese nail art in New York. During the manicure, Susan talks with Erina about Japanese beauty. A native New Yorker and now an entrepreneur, Erina started Beauty by Sunrise in 2017. Although it is currently only an online shop, she shares her plan to open a physical location on the second floor of Japan Village this fall. As Erina describes, a tenet of Japanese beauty is minimalism—in the number of steps for a skincare routine, in the types of ingredients, and in the scent. The Japanese skincare products sold by Beauty by Sunrise contain ingredients like Camellia oil, sake, and hatomugi, and Susan finds out about Erina’s beauty secrets! Because she works in the restaurant industry, Erina shies away from nail art that’s too flashy, and with the guidelines of “neutral color” and “flower,” Manami creates an omakase experience for Erina, placing delicate dried flowers onto a beige background. Like an infomercial, Erina left the salon saying that it was the best nail art she has ever had.
44 minutes | 2 years ago
This episode is supported by JapanCulture•NYC, the English-language website about all things Japanese in New York City. Naomi Mizoguchi is a documentary filmmaker and the founder of GARA FILMS whose work focuses on preserving indigenous cultures. Her latest Japanese-language film Ainu | Hito (or English title Ainu – Indigenous People of Japan) follows four elders of an Ainu community in the town of Biratori, which is located in Hidaka Subprefecture in Hokkaido Prefecture, Japan. Since she moved to New York in 2004, Naomi has been involved with Downtown Community Television Center (DCTV), a nonprofit media company based in Civic Center, Manhattan. Established in Chinatown in 1972 and moved to an abandoned firehouse in 1978, DCTV functions as a resource of the community, renting film equipment and hosting video workshops, and as an independent film production company, producing popular documentaries and garnering countless accolades. Before he talks to Naomi about her film, Toshiki speaks with Keiko Tsuno. Originally a conceptual artist with a black-and-white camera, she and her husband Jon Alpert founded DCTV to give voices to underrepresented communities and to highlight important social issues. Keiko describes why her documentary 1977 Healthcare: Your Money or Your Life has been important in her career and how she espouses the Japanese principle of wa (“harmony”) in her leadership of DCTV. The word “Ainu” means “human” in their native language, and with an estimated population of 20,000 Ainu living in Hokkaido, they were officially recognized as an indigenous group by the Japanese government in April 2019. Naomi explains how important the Ainu politician Shigeru Kayano was for the Ainu ethnic movement and shares the story of one of the subjects of Ainuhito, Kazunobu Kawanano. Kazunobu-san invited Naomi to stay with him in Biratori when she first visited in 2008, and a museum curator asked her to create a film about Biratori in 2015. In the spirit of community media, Naomi created this documentary on the sole condition that the Biratori community get involved with its production and dissemination, and the film was produced in collaboration with Nibutani Ainu Cultural Museum. The world premiere of Ainuhito was held in Biratori in June 2018, and it has since screened in major cities in Japan. She recently translated the film to English and will be screening it for American audiences. A native of Hyogo Prefecture, Naomi is a wajin (or mainland Japanese person), but also involved in Okinawan musical activities, she embodies the resilience of traditional cultures of Japan. This episode celebrating the power of video to give voices to indigenous peoples airs on the United Nations International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples.
53 minutes | 2 years ago
This episode is supported by JapanCulture•NYC, the English-language website about all things Japanese in New York City. During his vacation from New York to Southern California, Toshiki stops by Okinawa Association of America (OAA), a nonprofit corporation based in Gardena that serves the Okinawan community in the Los Angeles area. In the Charles M. and Yoshiko Kamiya Library, he sits down with Yuko Yamauchi, the Executive Director of OAA. Having had several different names since its founding in 1909, OAA originated as the Okinawa kenjinkai in LA and historically served as a social organization for Japanese immigrants from Okinawa Prefecture and a resource to help them assimilate to US laws and customs. Especially after World War II and Japanese incarceration, OAA evolved to accommodate shifting cultural values and now serves as an important community institution for preserving Okinawan culture through dance and music, as well as the Okinawan language, Uchinaaguchi. Yuko recounts her experience going to Okinawa on a Kempi Scholarship, and inspired by activists like Dick Jiro Kobashigawa, she returned to Los Angeles to pursue nonprofit work. Given that OAA does not take a position on political issues, such as the presence of the US military bases in Okinawa, Toshiki asks Yuko about what her personal views are regarding fostering spaces for political discussions. After a brief tour of the OAA offices and activity room, Toshiki has lunch with OAA President Edward (Eddie) Kamiya and Co-Chair for the OAA 110th Anniversary Yoshihiro (Hiro) Tome at Kotohira, a Japanese restaurant located in Tozai Plaza in Gardena that also serves Okinawan food. Over goya champuru and soki soba, Toshiki asks about their Okinawa-related activities. The OAA Library is named after Eddie’s parents, and he reflects on how his family shaped his Okinawan identity and influenced his involvement in OAA. Tome-san discusses organizing the Uchinanchu Taikai and getting the famous Okinawan band BEGIN to perform at the upcoming OAA110th Anniversary in September. A central theme throughout this episode was about reconciling Okinawan culture and mainland Japanese culture, and Susan reflects on her identity, commenting that she doesn’t distinguish being either Okinawan or Japanese. She’s both Okinawan and Japanese.
50 minutes | 2 years ago
You’re Not Half, You’re Double
This episode is supported by JapanCulture•NYC, the English-language website about all things Japanese in New York City. Susan makes a pilgrimage to an industrial neighborhood in Long Island City, Queens. There, Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988) established The Noguchi Museum, which opened in 1985. Born in Los Angeles to a Japanese father and an American mother, Isamu Noguchi had a prolific career as a designer and artist who worked in different media and is most famous for his sculptures. The Deputy Director of The Noguchi Museum Jennifer Lorch shares the history and architecture of the museum, and she describes how Noguchi’s international travel, as well as his experience in a Japanese internment camp in Arizona, shaped his aesthetic and his career. The museum comprises Noguchi’s basalt and granite sculptures that he created throughout his career and currently features an exhibition called Changing and Unchanging Things: Noguchi and Hasegawa in Postwar Japan that displays the calligraphy and paintings of Japanese artist Saburo Hasegawa (1906-1957), who was also a friend of Noguchi during his lifetime. In the sculpture garden of the museum, Susan sits down with Sarah LaFleur, Founder and CEO of the women’s fashion and styling company MM.LaFleur. Launched in 2013, the brand utilizes the “Bento Box” to deliver clothing, accessories, and shoes to the working woman. Sarah attributes the brand’s Japanese sensibility of design to Creative Director Miyako Nakamura and discusses the company’s values, including adopting kizukai (or “empathy in action”) with each other and with customers, espousing the spirit of renegades, and remembering to enjoy the art of dressing all women. Like Isamu Noguchi, Sarah is half-Japanese and half-American and calls both Japan and the US home. Sarah recalls visiting Kodomonokuni, a children’s park in Yokohama that was created by Noguchi, during her childhood and explains how her heritage and particularly her parents have influenced her political awareness and her entrepreneurship. Reminiscing about visiting The Noguchi Museum on a sunny day in June, Susan reflects on her own experiences as a mixed race person.
49 minutes | 2 years ago
There Is No Melon in Melonpan
This episode is supported by JapanCulture•NYC, the English-language website about all things Japanese in New York City. Toshiki quizzes Susan on sake vocabulary as defined in the sake glossary on UrbanSake.com and introduces his interview with its founder Timothy Sullivan. Timothy is a sake sommelier, a Japan Sake Brewer’s Association Sake Samurai, and the Official Brand Ambassador of Hakkaisan Sake Brewery. Toshiki and Timothy take a Japanese bread baking class with professional bread baker and NYC nisei Daichi Ebato at Cha-An Teahouse, joined by Friends of the Podcast including Japan Society Director of Special Events Christy Jones. Toshiki and Timothy talk about the science of sake making, the importance of craftsmanship in Japanese cuisine, and Timothy’s year-long stay in the city of Minamiuonuma in Niigata Prefecture, a snowy region of Japan notable for their tanrei karakuchi sake. Timothy shares his experience tasting premium sake for the first time at the Manhattan sushi restaurant Tomoe Sushi and reflects on the influence of his early education in German language and culture on his perspective on cultural respect. Although Daichi’s training at the International Culinary Center was not in Japanese bread baking, his Japanese heritage inspired him to learn about Japanese bread. With an affinity for freshly baked or yakitate bread, Daichi currently works at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon and teaches New Yorkers how to bake shokupan, anpan, and melonpan. In Daichi’s class, Toshiki and Timothy learn the process of pre-shaping, resting, and shaping dough into the soft and fluffy shokupan, and they get their hands floury making their own dough. Together they discover parallels between the yeast culturing processes in sake and bread. Daichi also busts a popular myth. There is no melon flavor in melonpan.
50 minutes | 2 years ago
New York Fit
This episode is supported by JapanCulture•NYC, the English-language website about all things Japanese in New York City. Susan sits down with Takaaki “Tommy” Nakajima at Kamakura Shirts on Madison Ave in Midtown Manhattan. Tommy is a businessman with a long career in finance and human resources, and he shares his experience of moving to the United States from Japan and raising a bilingual and bicultural family in the New York area. Known by other Japanese businessmen as “Nakajima-san” and frustrated by Americans mispronouncing his given name, Tommy shares the story behind his American nickname, which involves another “T. Nakajima.” As a regular at Kamakura Shirts, Tommy appreciates the quality of Japanese goods and services, and he supports Japanese businesses thriving in the US. Susan met Tommy through Japanese American community organizations and asks him about his outreach promoting Nagano Prefecture and U.S.-Nagano relations. Proud of his home in Japan, he shares his volunteer activities as the Global Nagano Promotion Advisor. Kamakura Shirts was founded in 1993 by Yoshio and Tomiko Sadasue. Inspired by the Ivy League style of fashion, which originated in the US, the Sadasues created a business shirt that exhibits “Made in Japan” quality. Beyond the quality of their clothing, the customer service at Kamakura Shirts embodies the Japanese principle of omotenashi. Susan also speaks with Kakeru Kitatsuru, an employee at Kamakura Shirts. Kakeru shares the history of the store and explains the different types and styles of shirts. Notably, the New York locations offer a “New York Fit” style that is designed for Western body types and fit preferences. Kakeru measures Tommy for a “made-to-order” business shirt fitting, and Toshiki also makes a surprise appearance at the store to get fitted for a business shirt!
49 minutes | 2 years ago
J. A. Community
This episode is supported by JapanCulture•NYC, the English-language website about all things Japanese in New York City. Susan interviews Julie Azuma at the Midtown Manhattan office of the non-profit organization Japanese American Association of New York (JAANY). By day, Julie is Founder and President of Different Roads to Learning, a company that provides educational resources for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). By night, you can find her opening the doors to her apartment and bringing people in the Japanese and Japanese American communities together. Serving on the boards of multiple organizations and as a Vice President of JAANY, she welcomed Susan to the New York Japanese American community ten years ago and shares her story about growing up in Chicago as a child of issei who were incarcerated during World War II, participating in the Redress Movement alongside people like Michi Weglyn and Yuri Kochiyama, and playing an important role in establishing social groups like Japanese-Americans, Japanese in America (JAJA). Led by President Susan Onuma and Executive Director Michiyo Noda, JAANY provides numerous social services and cultural programs, and as a symbol of community gathering, it was a fitting setting for a podcast interview about community.
40 minutes | 2 years ago
The Blue Door and the Green Bottle
This episode is supported by JapanCulture•NYC, the English-language website about all things Japanese in New York City. Toshiki interviews Rona Tison, the Executive Vice President of Corporate Relations and PR of Ito En (North America) over a sake tasting at Brooklyn Kura in Industry City in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Known for their signature Oi Ocha green bottle, Ito En is a multinational corporation specializing in tea founded in 1966 in Japan, and they expanded to the United States in 2001, where they now have corporate offices in DUMBO, Brooklyn. During their sake tasting, Rona talks about the history of Ito En and how the company popularized unsweetened green tea in the US. She attributes the success of Ito En to American love for Japan (see Hugh Jackman’s Instagram post with an Ito En vending machine) and the company’s innovation in committing to sustainability practices, addressing Western consumer tastes to eat “clean” and try authentic ethnic cuisine, and providing convenient on-the-go products. As a half-Japanese American and having lived in Tokyo, Okinawa, and the Bay Area, Rona was surrounded by the ritual of tea, and Toshiki asks her how her upbringing influenced her career path. Founded by Brandon Doughan and Brian Polen, Brooklyn Kura is the first sake brewery in the state of New York. Rona and Toshiki try their signature Blue Door, a junmai-style sake, made from 4 ingredients: water, koji, yeast, and rice. Brian also serves them a special-release shiboritate (or freshly pressed) sake called Lake Suwa. Neighbors in Brooklyn, Ito En and Brooklyn Kura share a mission in educating the American public about Japanese cuisine, a commitment for which Rona has been recognized by the World Tea Expo. Toshiki brings back a bottle of Blue Door to the recording studio (Toshiki’s Upper East Side Manhattan apartment) to enjoy with Susan, and they talk about their motivation to create The Big Root and celebrate its first episode.
2 minutes | 2 years ago
Welcome to The Big Root
In the trailer for the first season of The Big Root, Susan and Toshiki introduce the podcast and describe how their experiences navigating their own Japaneseness inspire them to celebrate Japanese and Japanese American people in New York. Premieres April 2019.
Terms of Service
Do Not Sell My Personal Information
© Stitcher 2021