You know you're Japanese-American when..

1. You know that Camp doesn't mean a cabin in the woods.
2. The men in your family were gardeners, farmers or produce workers.
3. The women in your family were seamstresses, domestic workers or farm laborers.
4. Your Issei grandparents had an arranged marriage.
5. One of your relatives was a "picture bride."
6. You have Nisei relatives named Keiko, Aiko, Sumi or Mary.
7. You have Nisei relatives named Tak, Tad, George, Harry or Shig.
8. You're Sansei and your name is Janice, Glen, Brian, Bill or Kenji.
9. You're thinking of naming your Yonsei child, Brittany, Jenny, Lauren, Garrett or Brett with a Japanese middle name.
10. All of your cousins are having "happa" kids.
11. You have relatives who live in Hawaii.
12. You belong to a Japanese credit union.
13. Your parents or grandparents bought their first house through a tanomoshi.
14. The bushes in your front yard are trimmed into balls.
15. You have a kaki tree in the backyard.
16. You have at least one bag of sembei in the house at all times.
17. You have a Japanese doll in a glass case in your living room.
18. You have a Nekko cat in your house for good luck.
19. You have large Japanese platters in your china cabinet.
20. You have the family mon and Japanese needlepoint on the wall.
21. You own a multi-colored lime green polyester patchwork quilt.
22. Your grandma used to crochet all your blankets, potholders and dishtowels.
23. You check to see if you need to take off your shoes at your JA friends' houses.
24. When you visit other JAs, you know that you should bring omiage.
25. When you visit another JAs, you give or receive a bag of fruits or vegetables.
26. When you leave a JA house, you take leftover food home on a paper plate or a styrofoam meat tray.
27. You keep a supply of rubber bands, twist ties, butter and tofu containers in the kitchen.
28. You have an air pump thermos covered with lilacs.
29. You've heard Warren Furutani speak at least once, somewhere.
30. You've been to the Manzanar Pilgrimage and danced the "Tanko Bushi."
31. Where ever you live now, you always come home to the Obon festival in your old neighborhood..
32. You know that Pat Morita doesn't really speak like Mr. Miyagi.
33. You're mad because Kristi Yamaguchi should have gotten more commercial endorsements than Nancy Kerrigan.
34. You know someone who has run for the Nisei Week Queen Pageant.
35. The Japanese American National Museum has asked you for money.
36. If you're under 20, the first thing you read in the Rafu Shimpo is the Sports page.
37. If you're over 60, the first thing you read in the Rafu Shimpo is the obituary column.
38. When your back is sore, you use Salonpas, Tiger Balm or that flexi-stick with the rubber ball on the end that goes, katonk, katonk.
39. You've played basketball in the Tigers Tournament.
40. You love to shop at Fedco.
41. You've bowled at the Holiday Bowl, or at least eaten there.
42. You've been to the Far East Cafe at least once.
43. You've eaten at Mago's or Kenny's Cafe on Centinela.
44. After funerals, you go for China-"meshi".
45. After giving koden, you get stamps in the mail.
46. You fight fiercely for the check after dinner.
47. You've hidden money in the pocket of the person who paid for dinner.
48. You don't need to read the instructions on the proper use of hashi.
49. You know that Benihana's and Yoshinoya Beef Bowl aren't really Japanese food.
50. You eat soba on New Year's Eve.
51. You start off the New Year with a bowl of ozoni soup for good luck and the mochi sticks to the roof of your mouth.
52. You know not to eat the tangerine on top of the mochi at New Year's.
53. You have a 12-pack of mochi in your freezer-that you still refuse to throw away in July.
54. You pack bento for road trips.
55. You know that the last weekend in April is Opening Day at Crowley Lake.
56. You stop at Manzanar on the way to and from Mammoth.
57. You see your relatives at the California Club in Las Vegas more often than you see them in L.A.
58. Your grandma made the best sushi in town.
59. You cut all your carrots and hot dogs at an angle.
60. You know the virtues of SPAM.
61. You were eating Chinese chicken salad, years before everyone else.
62. You know what it means to eat "footballs."
63. You grew up eating ambrosia, wontons and finger jello at family potlucks.
64. You always use Best Foods mayonnaise and like to mix it with shoyu to dip broccoli.
65. You use the "finger method" to measure the water for your rice cooker.
66. You grew up on rice: bacon fried rice, chili rice, curry rice or red rice (osekihan).
67. You like to eat rice with your spaghetti.
68. You like to eat rice in a chawan, not on a plate.
69. You can't start eating until you have a bowl of rice.
70. You use plastic Cool Whip containers to hold day-old rice.
71. Along with salt and pepper, you have a shoyu dispenser at your table.
72. You have a jar of takuan in your fridge.
73. You buy rice 25-pounds at a time and shoyu a gallon at a time.
74. Natto: you either love it or you hate it.
75. As a kid you used to eat Botan rice candy.
76. You know the story of Momotaro-the Peach Boy.
77. You have had a pet named Chibi or Shiro.
78. Someone you know, owns an Akita or Shiba dog.
79. You went to J-school and your best subject was recess.
80. At school, you had those Hello Kitty pencil boxes and sweet smelling erasers.
81. When you're sick, you eat okayu.
82. Milk makes you queasy and alcohol turns your face red.
83. Your dad owns a Member's Only jacket.
84. Someone you know drives an Acura Integra, Honda Accord or Toyota Camry.
85. You used to own one of those miniature zori key chains.
86. You have a kaeru frog for good luck charm hanging in your car.
87. Your parents compare you to their friend's kids.
88. You hang on the illusion that you are superior to other Asians.
89. Your dentist, doctor and optometrist is Japanese American.
90. You know what "S.J." stands for.
91. You socialize with groups of eight or more people.
92. Whenever you're with more than three people, it takes an hour to decide where to eat.
93. You and your friends call yourselves "Buddhaheads", but don't like it when White people do.
94. You've heard your name pronounced a half-dozen different ways.
95. You use the derogatory term "Kuichi" and "Kurombo" when you should be using Jewish and African American or Black.
96. You know what the acronyms M.I.S., 100th/442nd, J.A.C.L., C.Y.C., N.A.U., S.E.Y.O., and S.C.N.G.A. stand for.
97. The name Lillian Baker makes your fists clench.
98. You know that E.O. 9066 isn't a zip code.
99. You're not superstitious, buy you do believe in bachi.
100. You never take the last piece of food on a plate, but will cut it into smaller pieces.
101. As much as you want it, never ever take the last anything. Enryo, enryo, enryo.
102. You wait for the Monday issue of The Rafu Shimpo to read the "Horse's Mouth."
103. You talk to JA friends and the word "ano..." slips out.
104. You use Bigen to change your hair color.
105. In the bathroom you have a crocheted toilet paper cover.
106. You know what "yokkoi-sho" or "yoi-sho" means.
107. Your parents/grandparents drove a big American car.
108. You know the California Hotel is not located in California.
109. No matter how bad your Japanese is, you still know the words "shi-shi" and "un-chi".
110. Your parents/grandparents watch "Kohaku Utagassen" on TV on New Year's eve.
111. For guys: As a teenager, you tried growing a mustache, but gave up when you realized that your eyebrows will always be bushier than any other facial hair (unless your family's from Okinawa).
112. You have at least one family picture taken by Toyo Miyatake.
113. You take your parents to a nice Chinese restaurant in Monterey Park, and after reviewing the menu they embarrass you by asking the waiter why chow mein, sweet 'n' sour pork, and fried rice aren't on it.
114. Your mom saves all those wooden kamaboko things "just in case."
115. When you go to a JA wedding, you can expect another pair of hashi or a sake cup filled with jelly beans to take home.
116. You have, at one time or another, helped fold 1,000 cranes for someone's wedding or anniversary.
117. Instead of a Q-tip, you clean your ears with a mimi-kaki.
118. You know who Rex Walters is, and you know something about him your non-JA friends don't know.
119. You dad wears the same cologne as my uncle and all his friends and all their friends.
120. When you meet another JA, you can be sure you're either related to them or know someone who knows them.
121. Even if you don't speak Japanese, you know what "baka" and "benjo" mean.
122. You once owned a collection of T-shirts with slogans like "I'm With Bakatare" or "Monku, Monku, Monku (Bitch, Bitch, Bitch)."
123. As a kid you thought everyone ate rice everyday.
124. You went to dances every weekend at:
Early '60s: the Aeoronautical Institue, Old Dixie
Late'60s: Roger Young, Parkview
Late '70s to early '80s: Adam's, Lahani's, C.J.
Barrymore's, Pizazz
1990s: Chiller's
125. You own a T-shirt with a rising sun on it, or bought one from Asahi Dry Goods that said "Year of the..."
126. You 'fixed-up" and/or "lowered" your Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Datsun (remember those?).
127. You know the old Crenshaw Square carnival was the best.
128. The smell of slightly burnt teriyaki sauce immediately makes you think of carnivals.
129. Your kid is on a community basketball team with at least one of the following: (if they're a girl) Jennifer, Stacy, Lauren or Kristen (if they're a boy) Garret, Scott, Ryan or Derek.
130. You know what Holiday, Midtown, Rodeo, Triangle, Missile, Gardena, Jefferson and Mar Vista have in common.
131. You buy wedding gifts at Rafu Bussan because you know they'll wrap it better than you ever could.
132. You have one of those "always hot" rice cookers in your kitchen.
133. You were told to eat nori so your hair would be black.
134. You say "itadakimasu" before you eat.
135. Your mom tries to gaman, but actually feels resentful, so she has to drop indirect hints so you notice her sacrifices.
136. You're expected to anticipate and serve JA men's needs even before they themselves know what they want. You know you're Nisei when you can do it but start resenting it; Sansei, when you can't do it and don't really care; Yonsei, and you expect males to serve you.
137. You still have the lawn trimmer that was passed on to you from your dad.
138. You grew a beautiful dichondra lawn, but gave it up after a flea beetle attack.
139. Year after year, you take a family picture of the same oshogatsu spread.
140. You have a picture of yourself as a kid wearing a kimono or happi coat.
141. You know to stop yelling when you hear the word "yakamashii."
142. Your mother or grandmother made colorful zabuton square cushions to keep your seat warm.
143. You went to kenjinkai picnics before the War.
144. You answer "sukoshi" when someone asks you if you speak Japanese.
145. You buy your fresh fish and tofu from the "fish man."
146. You have ochazuke at the end of your meal.
147. You know not to put shoyu on your gohan.
148. You compliment a person from Japan on how well they speak English, and they compliment you on how well you speak Japanese, and you both know you're kind of stretching things.
149. You went to dances in the 50's at the Normandie or Ardmore playgrounds, or the Harvard House, and the evening always ended with the last dance "Dream."
150. You own one or more JA church or community cookbooks, like the Centenary Cookbook, Gardena Valley Baptist church or East West Flavors.
151. Your family used to pound their own mochi.
152. You know you don't need a spoon for miso soup.
153. You're waiting patiently for Far East Cafe to reopen.
154. The ultimate Chinese dinner for you includes: seaweed soup, chicken chow mein, chashu, pakkai, shrimp with lobster sauce, almond duck, pea chow yuk and homyu.
155. Your grandma still cooks with ajinomoto, regardless of what medical reports say about it.
156. You order cakes from Grace's, Angel Maid or King's Hawaiian Bakery.
157. You know that summer means it's time for somen and shaved ice with azuki beans.
158. Your dad's front lawn is his pride and joy to the point of obsession.
159. You keep an old pair of zoris at your back door.
160. You know someone who has a koi pond in the backyard.
161. You go to your parent's or grandparent's house to read the Rafu Shimpo.
162. Growing up, you heard the words, abunai, takai, urusai, gaman and shikata-ga-nai.
163. You know some of the best food in life is brought by players' moms and served after JA basketball games.
164. You own a Hiroshima or Earth, Wind & Fire record.
165. As a kid, you loved watching Ultraman, Kamen Rider, Kikaida, Gigantor, Giant Robot and Speed Racer on TV.
166. You always root for George Takei's "Sulu" on Star Trek.
167. You watch Japanese soap operas on VHS and trade with your friends.
168. You have an orange Japanese silk embroidered family photo album with white and gold cranes on it.
169. You keep candy or knick-knacks in a Japanese black lacquered dish or box.
170. You're a JA woman in your 30's, and you still get carded at the grocery store.
171. You've gotten your hair cut at Kihara's barber shop in Little Tokyo.
172. You used to watch Japanese movies at the Kokusai, Kabuki, Linda Lea and, Toho La Brea movie theaters.
173. You know where Uptown, J-Flats and "the Avenues" are in Los Angeles.
174. You know the difference between the "Westside" and West L.A.
175. You have relatives buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Boyle Heights.
176. You're Nisei and you were born at the Japanese Hospital in Boyle Heights or delivered by a JA midwife at home.
177. Before Redress, you or your parents found it difficult to talk about Camp. Now, you go to Camp reunions and pilgrimages together and won't stop talking about it.
178. You make eye contact and give a little nod to other JAs, even if you don't know them.
179. You end each meal with a quick "gochiso sama" before you get up to leave the table.


First 101 - copyright 1997 by Jenni Kuida and Tony Osumi.
(Originally published in The Rafu Shimpo, March 23, 1996.)