The P.C. contributor is set to receive the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays, honor.
By P.C. Staff
For more years than he might like to admit, journalist Gil Asakawa has kept busy writing: books such as “Being Japanese American: A JA Sourcebook for Nikkei, Hapa … and Their Friends” and “Tabemasho! Let’s Eat!: A Tasty History of Japanese Food in America”; dozens of newspaper columns like “Nikkei Voice” for this newspaper; and, of course, his blog, NikkeiView.com.
When he’s not doing that, Asakawa shoots and shares pics of his latest gastronomic conquests — “food porn,” as he calls it — via social media. And, just recently, the Los Angeles Times featured him in a video with reporter Daniel Miller to explore the origin of sushi in L.A. (see tinyurl.com/2s4ytacp).
Although a labor of love (and nominal income), Asakawa’s motivation has been to, as he puts it, be a “physical bridge between Japan and the U.S.” Why?
“Because I was born there and because I moved here when I was 8. So, I became very Americanized very young — and yet, I have these kind of deep roots … and I feel very connected,” Asakawa told the Pacific Citizen.
Those circumstances also extend to his involvement with JACL, at the national level as a past member of the Pacific Citizen board (including serving as P.C. Editorial Board chair) and the local level with the Mile High JACL chapter, as well as with the Denver-Takayama Sister City Committee, the U.S.-Japan Council and the Japan America Society.
The Arvada, Colo.-based Asakawa was flattered and surprised to learn that his activities had been noticed — by the government of Japan. In late April, he was informed that he was among a group of people who were named as recipients of the Spring 2023 Conferment of Decorations on Foreign Nationals. “I’m very honored,” he said.
Sometime this fall, Asakawa will receive the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays, for having “contributed to improving the social status of Japanese Americans in the United States and promoting understanding of Japan.”
“There will be a ceremony, I assume, at the Consul General’s residence here in Denver,” Asakawa said.
Asked what his late father, Hawaii-born Nisei George Asakawa, and his Hokkaido-born mother, Junko, might think of this news, he says: “My dad probably would have gotten a kick out it.” As for his mother, who is in memory care, he said he isn’t sure she’d understand if he told her — but remains curious about what she might say when he shows her the Japanese language announcement on the consulate’s webpage.
As for being recognized by Japan’s government after all the years of writing, reporting and blogging on Japanese American and Japanese topics, Asakawa said, “I feel like that they actually got me. I’m glad that they saw that everything I’ve done has been about explaining JA history, explaining the immigration background of Japanese Americans and the World War II experience and everything since then.”
And, while Asakawa knows that “it’s definitely a big honor,” he added that he knows “there are a lot of people across the country who deserve these awards.” For now, however, it’s Asakawa’s turn to take a bow as his family’s rising son.