Relationship: Child of im/migrant
late grandmother and grandfather
late grandmother and grandfather

My Japanese and American mixed family has been successful at assimilating into american culture. Yet, a continuous challenge we face is remembering our identity and preserving our culture. My mother’s side of the family is Shinto Buddhist- a south eastern Asian religion that I grew up with. She moved to America in 2001. Our shrine (nonnosama) serves as a cultural reminder to us and is one of the very few things, other than language, that ties us to our home. While our shrine is specialized to us, it’s a common practice to have and maintain one throughout other Japanese families. On the altar are pictures of our elders along with a bowl of ash where we stick incense in. Beside that is a small metal bowl that rests on a cushion with a small mallet meant to strike the bowl with. By striking, we pray until the hum stops resonating. On special holidays like new years (oshogatsu) and children's day (koinobori), we put special offerings on the altar like rice, tea, and seasonal snacks. This ongoing tradition is significant because it’s a sign of respect towards our elders as without them, we wouldn’t be here. They serve as an inspiration because they had very troubled lives and we can look to them and realize that we are strong enough to overcome our own personal challenges. In addition, I consider Japan to be my home but due to covid, i haven’t been able to visit for awhile. While I may not be there in person, when I pray or even walk by the shrine, I feel as if I’m home again. 

Place(s): Tokyo Japan and Charlottesville Virginia
Year: 2001

– Koyuki Skye Aker

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant