Time for a shameless plug! I’d like to introduce The Big Root, a new podcast that I am co-hosting and co-producing.
The Big Root is the brainchild of Toshiki Nakashige, a chemist with a Ph.D. from MIT. He already has a podcast called Scientist, but he wanted to focus on “Japaneseness,” or how the experiences of Japanese Americans inform their individual takes on what it means to be Japanese.
Named for the daikon, Japan’s ubiquitous and versatile root vegetable, The Big Root celebrates how we’re all touched by Japaneseness, largely due to globalization and diaspora. Even if you’re not of Japanese descent, Japaneseness has probably influenced you in some way, be it through food and drink, traditional practices (tea ceremony and calligraphy), or pop culture (manga and anime). Join us as we explore how these influences have shaped the lives of our guests. We’ll talk to leaders in the community, entrepreneurs, and champions of Japanese and Japanese American culture. And we’ll talk to them as we participate in activities that have something to do with Japan.
We intersperse our interviews with information about our topics and witty banter, and we find similarities and differences between our interviewees’ experiences and our own. Even though we all have a shared Japanese heritage, we each relate to our personal Japaneseness differently, whether it’s generationally or geographically. It’s been eye-opening to hear everyone’s stories.
EPISODE 1: The Blue Door and the Green Bottle
Our first episode premiered on April 26, and in it Toshiki interviews Rona Tison of Japanese green tea giant Ito En. She discusses tea and how her Japanese American upbringing has influenced her career during a private sake tasting at Brooklyn Kura, New York State’s first sake brewery. Read more
EPISODE 2: J.A. Community
I talk to the ultimate community leader and badass boss lady Julie Azuma at one of our favorite places, the Japanese American Association of New York. Julie has an incredible story about the roots of her activism and her love of community. Read more
EPISODE 3: New York Fit
I interview Takaaki “Tommy” Nakajima at Kamakura Shirts. He talks about being a Japanese businessman in New York, and Kakeru Kitatsuru, a staff member of Kamakura Shirts, gives him a fitting. Read more
MM.LaFleur founder and CEO Sarah LaFleur engages us in how she is both Japanese and American and how Japaneseness has found its way into her wildly successful women’s apparel company. We had our conversation in the serene garden of The Noguchi Museum, a gorgeous space that is dedicated to the life and works of Isamu Noguchi, a prominent Japanese American sculptor.
WHERE TO FIND US
Follow us on our exploration of Japaneseness in New York City and tell us about your experiences with Japaneseness!