Liz’s Family Heritage

Liz’s Family Heritage

Liz’ Story

I am half Japanese and the other half is French Canadian/Irish/German. My mom is Japanese and emigrated to the US in 1949. She always taught us about our Japanese heritage and culture. We would often wear kimonos, and almost always wore them when we were visiting our grandmother (Oba-chan), who only wore kimonos. (In the photo above, I’m the tall one, with my brothers Stephen and Richard and my sister Carol and my cousin Frances.) One year we all wore kimonos for our Christmas card picture, including my father who was 6’2”! My mom also taught us basic Japanese phrases and even how to write some characters, although we weren’t very good students. I am very grateful that my mother taught us to be proud of our Japanese heritage, especially when it wasn’t very popular at the time.

My dad made us a Japanese-style table so we could sit on the floor for Japanese dinners. Mom made sukiyaki, a very traditional Japanese meal but one that Americans could eat-beef, noodles, vegetables and tofu-all cooked at the table in an electric skillet. We had sukiyaki parties for our birthday parties, family gatherings and neighborhood dinners, and mom always cooked and served in a kimono, on the floor- which I always found very impressive! She taught me how to make sukiyaki and now I make it for the family gatherings. Food is a great way to bring people together and introduce other cultures.

Liz is the Executive Director of Tacoma Community House.

Immigrant Heritage Month