A Wagamama Menu

I swear, with all my heart, that I did not name my memoir after London’s wildly successful Japanese noodle restaurant chain by the same name. But I can’t help but admit that this past August while in London for a family reunion we did sneak in a decent bowl of stir fried rice down by the […]

Mother of the Bride

Why is it that those last steps to the mountain summit are always the hardest? It’s the point you want to give up and turn back and say this is more than I can do. I’m out of air. I’m out of breath. Well, that’s just about where I was in writing my memoir. I could […]

Self-Portrait of the Author

Today September 28th is an anniversary. Today marks completion of 29 always surreal years in Japan. I’ve now lived here more than half of my life but time operates at such an accelerated pace in this city of 35 million souls that I feel sometimes as if I’ve been here lifetimes. It’s a fact that still hasn’t […]

Japanese in-laws, a Jewish daughter-in-law

Yesterday was a “red number” day on the Japanese calendar – the national holiday Keiro no Hi, Respect for the Aged Day. Here in this excerpt from The Wagamama Bride, I invite you to meet my in-laws for the first time with me in their home in Okachimachi, Tokyo… Meeting the Future In-Laws August 1989 The journey […]

Return to Innocence

Excerpt from The Wagamama Bride, a memoir in progress…   I was at Akahigedo getting treatment from a Chinese psychic who used an unusual technique to align her brain waves with mine and a room full of other people. Moving my feet like windshield wipers I visualized sun and moon alternately. After a while I […]

A Jewish girl and a Go-Between at a Japanese wedding

The nakodo, the go-between, was so essential to the success of a Japanese wedding that even in the early 1990s, when Aki and I tied the knot, it would have been unthinkable to not have a go-between couple sitting up with us on the dais. Even though our marriage had been arranged by nobody other […]

The Lone Jew at a Japanese Buddhist Funeral

When you fall in love, asking your future husband what kind of a funeral he would want for himself is probably not the first thing you’d think of asking. And it certainly wouldn’t have been on the top of my list either except for the extraordinary situation we faced the summer of 1989 when both […]

From Conservative Judaism to Orthodoxy in Japan

There is one main bridge to Orthodoxy – whether you live in Tokyo, Mumbai or Sydney –  and its name is….Chabad. Today I was interviewed by a journalist for a magazine about the unlikelihood of finding my Jewish orthodox roots in Japan. It’s funny, it even goes without saying these days that when a non-religious, non-practicing Jew […]

Why the Jews of Japan Liked to Swim

The pool area at the JCC in Hiroo has been reincarnated as a wooden deck.   Excerpt from The Wagamama Bride, a memoir in progress… From a sunny window at the Jewish Community Center, all is quiet around the pool, which is empty of swimmers because it’s the Sabbath.  “Why can’t you swim on the Sabbath?” […]

Asian Jewish Life

Funny, but being in Japan I forget I’m in Asia, and therefore connected to the thousands of other Jews who make their lives on this side of the world. Yesterday came a rare opportunity to not only remember that, but to share from my nearly 29 years of memories of Jewish life in Japan. What […]

Brown Rice for Macrobiotic Beginners

Macrobiotics is Great for Anyone But is it great for everyone? No, not really, especially if you don’t have interest in denying yourself the pleasures of eating whatever you feel like. What happens when you turn macrobiotic? You give up meat, dairy, sugar, white flour, all processed foods, and even resist the temptation to eat fruits and vegetables grown […]

Rewriting the Rules of Marriage in Japan

Can a Jewish girl from New York ever strive to become as Japanese as the  daughter-in-law your husband’s parents always expected? “Of course not! Hiroko strikes me as completely of my mother’s generation—looking for a modern way to define her marriage with more wiggle room for her to be her own person, but unlike my […]