The Asian American Small Business Shopping Guide

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Authors & Contributors

Alex Ito

Also known as 'KonoKotoDake' on social media, Alex is a Gosei based in Los Angeles who loves music, Dungeons and Dragons, and good company. He is a "new school" taiko player and music producer who enjoys exploring the possibilities of taiko performance and media.

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Alex Wilensky

Born in Orange County and now living in LA, Alex is a policy director and community organizer. She loves cats, roller skating, and cooking with friends.

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Alyson Chang

Born and raised in Orange County. At school in Berkeley, California.

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Andie Kimura

Andie is a Japanese American, fourth generation Angelino who loves community, cookies, and television. She is constantly struggling to lower her carbon footprint and urges you to do the same (lower your carbon footprint, not the struggle part).

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Andrew Takahashi

Andrew Takahashi is a 30-year-old closet otaku who loves biking, eating, and playing video games. In his spare time, he works as an environmental engineer. CHEEHOOO.

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Ashley Omiya

Community activist, taiko artist, and an all-around great gal.

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Brandon Yoshio Paris

An LA native that embraces his half-Black and Nikkei Yonsei identity, that lived and worked in Japan for a couple of years after college. A Buddhist monk, ikebana artist, taiko artist, sourdough bread baker, mochi maker, coffee roaster, tea enthusiast, and foodie that works a civil service job.

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Brianna Katsuda

Born and raised in LA. Exploring NorCal. Passion for baking, cats, eating instant noodles, and living sustainability. Find Brianna at @brimoreecofriendly on Instagram.

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Bridget Keaveney

A proud Oregon native with Japanese and Irish roots! Passions include baking, drawing, traveling, and advocating for social justice.

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Brooke Larsen

Born and raised in New Orleans, Brooke recently spent six years living in Osaka, Japan before relocating to Southern California. She spends her free time pining for okonomiyaki (Osaka-style, of course) and onsen. You can find her writing on CNBC Global Traveler, Culture Trip, GaijinPot, and in her secret diary.

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Bryce Ikemura

Los Angeles based half-Chinese Shin Nisei, photographer, community member, professional relationship builder, chocolate lover, sneaker afficionado, grammar stickler, list maker, and Jenga enthusiast. Always hungry. Always sleepy.

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Changing Tides

The Changing Tides (CT) Crew consists of 6-8 AAPI young adults who help drive the mission and vision for CT. Hailing from various locations throughout California, they strive to destigmatize mental health and create safe and accessible spaces for the community.

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Craig Ishii

Origin story at Orange County Buddhist Church. Founder of Kizuna. Cultural enthusiast. Interested in exploring the ins and outs of our community so we can discover our past and pave our future.

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David Kenji Chang

David lives in New York and writes about design, art, and culture for magazines.

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Derek Hirano

Derek Hirano, owner and leader of the Hirano Homes Real Estate Team at Keller Williams Realty, is a fourth generation Japanese American, and third generation entrepreneur. Born and raised in the South Bay, he loves golfing, gaming, and backpacks.

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Dina Furumoto

A yonsei constantly trying to bridge their love of community, culture, history, and food together. On the ultimate quest to define what the perfect "Japanese-American" dessert is and an avid lover of carbs, bread, and anything comforting.

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Emiko Kranz

Los Angeles born, raised, and still here, Emiko is a halfie Yonsei studying Community Health Sciences and Asian American Studies at UCLA who always loves helping out around the SoCal Japanese American community. Her schedule is often built around her next meal.

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Emily Yamane

Emily Yamane is a Yonsei/Gosei, UCLA alum and currently based in Los Angeles. She is a Data Analyst by day, an Instagram jewelry dealer by night, and a top 0.5% Olivia Rodrigo Spotify listener 24/7.

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Eric Komatsu

Just your average Laker-loving, ramen-eating, South Bay-based college student. Eric strives to celebrate tradition while exploring new possibilities.

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Gianna Furumoto

Gianna (she/they) is a half Japanese, half Filipino gosei based in Los Angeles with roots in Orange County. She enjoys playing basketball and taiko for fun, and is dedicated to activism in Little Tokyo and beyond.

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Hideki Fukusumi

With degrees in ethnic studies and counseling, much of Hideki's passion lies in bringing together community and providing a voice to the voiceless. When he's not fighting fascism, you can find him cooking yakitori or working on some music-related project.

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Hiro Edeza

Hiro Edeza received a bachelor's degree in history with minors in Asian American studies and museum studies at San Francisco State University. After graduating, Hiro moved to the countryside of Japan to teach English and connect with his extended family in Kyushu. While across the Pacific, he does his best to remain active within the Japanese American community and looks forward to returning to it soon.

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Jules Yap

Raised in the Bay Area, Jules is a third-year college student at UCSD. He loves storytelling and giving people the voices that they need through these articles. Jules is also pursuing to become a creative writer in the film industry.

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Justin Kawaguchi

Justin (he/him) is a Los Angeles-based Trojan alum currently navigating grad school, adulthood (yikes), and finding ways to stay connected with cultural roots. You can often find him en route to the next best street taco stand or in Little Tokyo. (Fight On!)

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Kaelyn Maehara

Kaelyn Maehara is a filmmaker and ocean advocate originally from Los Angeles, California. You can now find her in Bristol, United Kingdom working on natural history documentaries and trying to diversify the environmental movement.

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Kaitlyn Chu

Kaitlyn Chu is a Japanese-Chinese American product designer & storyteller from Southern California. She loves expressing herself creatively through designing user experiences, consumer products and community programming.

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Katie Ikemoto

First-year Trojan with a major in Communication, born and raised in Orange County. Passionate about JA culture, all-things Disney, and music. Loves her family, friends, and community.

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Kayla Tanaka

A yonsei/shin-nisei who discovered her appreciation and passion for the JA community during her time in college. Full-time pursuer of a career in the legal field; part-time snowboard and beach-going enthusiast based in Torrance, CA.

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Kayne Toyosato

Kayne is a first generation American, born and raised in Torrance. He loves music and long walks on the beach.

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Kent Marume

Kent is a half Yonsei & Shin-Nisei mochi, fishing, and all things outdoor enthusiast. When not traversing the outdoors his day-to-day involves community-based work in Los Angeles' Little Tokyo.

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Kerilyn Sato

Keri is a dog mama, semi-accomplished hula dancer, and three-time beer pong tournament champion who has never met a dog she didn't immediately love or a drink she wouldn’t finish.

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Kevin Onishi

Kevin Onishi was born and raised in San Jose, where he continues to be an active member in the Japanese American community. He currently works and lives in Los Angeles, where he is the Director of Programs for a nonprofit that advances the quality of life for older adults. In his free time, Kevin gets daily Victory Royals on solos in Fortnite.

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Kim Yamasaki

Kim Yamasaki is the founder of reclaiming abundance, a Christian lifestyle and wellness company for supporting the lost and found to heal, transform, and breathe their God-given purpose to life through decluttering + reorganizing | yoga + nutrition | and wellness coaching.

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Kimberly C. Haruki

Fourth generation Japanese American born and raised in Hawaii. Marketing professional, working at Central Pacific Bank – a full-service financial institution founded in 1954 by Japanese American WWII veterans who helped families buy homes and start small businesses to build a life away from the plantations.

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Kiyomi Takemoto

LA/626 born and raised sansei, hapa, female engineer. When she's not out inspiring and mentoring the next gen of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) leaders, you can find her trying new places to eat around LA, taking pictures of plants on hikes, or en route to her next adventure.

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Kurt Ikeda

Shin-Nisei educator by profession and poet by passion. Raised in the South Bay of Los Angeles, living a semi-spud kind of life in Idaho with his beloved wife April. Kurt preserves the legacy of the WWII incarceration as the Acting Chief of Interpretation and Education at Minidoka National Historic Site.

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Kyle Okazaki

Has an approximate knowledge of many things. UCLA alum, engineer, musician, and life long learner.

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Kyle Weik

Kyle is an Orange County-based writer and avid baker who enjoys binge-watching K-dramas, testing skincare products, and dreaming of his next cake venture. He has a thousand tattoos and looks up to his older sister, Taylor.

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Leah Chase

Leah Chase is a fiction writer and amateur journalist at Stanford University. Through language and art, they are interested in exploring the variegated Asian American experiences through different angles. They are an avid fan of experimentation. When not writing, they are (probably) reading a book, taking care of their plants, or crocheting something new.

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Lexi Suga

Owner of Notox Nails in Beverly Hills. Lexi has been specializing in Japanese nail art for over 8 years. She is fourth generation Japanese American living in West Los Angeles. She loves to eat, cook, and travel the world.

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Lisa Aihara

Lisa Aihara is a visual artist and writer based in Los Angeles. A mom of two, Lisa draws (pun intended) inspiration from her own life, her sense of humor, playful art style, and her knack for storytelling to create an emotional connection. Find her online at www.lisaaihara.com.

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Mackenzie Walker

Maker, Baker, Plant Propagator. Washington state raised Yonsei based in DC.

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Mariko Fujimoto

Mariko is from San Jose and enjoys volunteering with SJ Japantown-based organizations, giving back to the community she grew up in. She loves pub trivia, murder mysteries, crossword puzzles, video/board/tabletop rpg gaming, and is an avid collector of both polyhedral ttrpg dice and mugs.

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Mariko Rooks

Mariko (she/null) is a mixed race Black Yonsei who calls Little Tokyo home, though she's currently pursuing a joint BA/MPH at Yale in ethnic studies and public health. You can find Mariko talking, writing, and researching with USA Water Polo, Changing Wxman Collective, Discover Nikkei, and more (if she's not at Fugetsu-Do).

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Marisa Katsuda

Educator aspiring for middle school students to love math one day at a time. Interested in equitable education, technology, coffee, and TikTok dances.

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Mark Hara

Passionate Dodgers fan. Mediocre fortnite gamer. Mark has a passion for youth education in the Japanese American community.

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Megan Nagasaki

Has a soft spot for community and is fascinated by culture, connection, and authentic storytelling. Marketing professional and social media enthusiast based in Los Angeles.

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Michelle Hirano

Born and raised in Gardena, CA, Michelle has a passion for education, food, social deduction games, and dogs.

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Monica Matsushima

Gardena, California-based, bedside nurse, mommy of three chickens, two kiddos, and one hyper terrier mix. Enjoys audiobooks, tabletop games, cooking, gardening, and pursuing sustainable living.

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Nate Gyotoku

Hilo built. Techy outdoorsman committed to leaving Hawaii better than I found it.

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Neda Kuso

Cocktail enthusiast who enjoys crafting cocktails according to what fruits and herbs are in season and by sampling creations from a variety of restaurants in the Los Angeles area.

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Nicole Oshima

Nicole (she/her) is a yonsei/gosei that is passionate about community building, hair dye, and pop culture. Based in Los Angeles, with her heart in Little Tokyo.

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Nicole Sato

Shin-Nisei born and raised in Torrance, trying to find the perfect medium of being Japanese and JA. Constantly on the quest for the best boba and french fries.

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Paul Matsushima

A family man, a community advocate, and an all around great guy.

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Pauline Ordonez

Pauline is a mixed Filipino and Okinawan nisei who grew up in the suburbs of LA. She loves crosswords, journaling, and G2 0.38 gel pens. On an ideal day, you can find her climbing tall rocks outdoors

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Philip Hirose

Born and raised Los Angeles. Dedicated to continuing a family legacy of community-based business, volunteerism, and activism.

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Randy Shiozaki

Randy is an Account Executive for UPS and former Vice President of Tomo No Kai at UCI. He loves to travel and experience other cultures. Unless the culture pertains to that of LA sports teams. He is not about that...

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Riki Aihara

Riki is an advocate for mental health and self-reflection. She loves sharing her knowledge of yoga through her online classes and also getting outdoors to experience nature. Find out more at mindfulexploration.org

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Ryan Ishii

Ryan Ishii is a mixed-race Japanese/Filipino senior student at UC Santa Barbara. He grew up involved in the Junior Youth Buddhist Association at Nishi Honganji, and in college served as UCSB Nikkei Student Union's President, and later Intercollegiate Nikkei Council President. While attending UCSB, he works as the Head of UCSB Intramural Basketball referees and is involved in Kapatirang Pilipino (KP), UCSB’s Filipino American organization.

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Scott Shima

Artist, producer, and party thrower in Los Angeles. He leads “Yo! Records”, an independent record label dedicated to releasing the best Asian American works. Scott takes care of over 100 plants (and growing), along with his orange cat Peanut in his apartment in Hollywood whilst producing UK Garage, Jungle and Deep House. He also organizes and hosts parties and events around Los Angeles with his music collective, JJ’s Workshop Crew, a group of music producers and DJs who met during a year-long music production class taught by Dirtybird Records artist, Justin Jay. He is an avid listener and creator of electronic music but would describe himself as a fan of all genres. You can catch Scott scooting around Hollywood on electric scooters.

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Stan Yogi

Stan Yogi is a co-chair of Okaeri. He is the co-author of the award-winning books Fred Korematsu Speaks Up (a biography for younger readers) and Wherever There’s a Fight: How Runaway Slaves, Suffragists, Immigrants, Strikers, and Poets Shaped Civil Liberties in California.

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Stephanie Nitahara

Chicago yonsei turned Los Angeles nonprofit executive with a passion for building the Nikkei community nationwide. Avid advocate for social justice and mental wellness to undo systems of oppression. Mother to a senior pomchi, sourdough starter, and the occasional succulent.

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Tanya Nakamoto

Originally from the Bay Area and now living in England, Tanya has an MSc in Conservation Practice and is passionate about cultural heritage conservation. She is interested in art, baking, sustainable and ethical fashion, and learning useless trivia.

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Taylor Weik

Taylor is a Los Angeles-based writer with essays and journalism in Teen Vogue, NBC Asian America, Catapult, and more. She’s passionate about celebrating and sharing Asian American stories. She also loves diners that serve coffee in mismatched mugs.

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Teresa Matsushima

Sansei, retiree, lifelong caregiver, grandma to four giggly grandkids (just don’t call her “bach” or “obachan”).

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Timothy Chuman

Second-year Communication Studies major at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Former intern at the Rafu Shimpo, co-founder of Cal Poly’s Nikkei Student Union, and always looking for ways to contribute to the Japanese American community.

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Tyus Hotta-Takahashi

Born and raised in the South Bay, Tyus is currently a quality assurance tester for Idea Factory International. He loves food, friends, and gaming. Sometimes he streams at https://Twitch.tv/KazeFGC

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Umiri Kimura

A proud UCLA NSU Alumni. Born in Japan and raised in Torrance, Umiri grew up being exposed to both Japanese and Japanese American culture. Always hunting for new Trader Joe’s snacks and cute cafés.

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Yui Oshirika

Yui is a shin-nisei taiko player and craft enthusiast from Los Angeles who advocates for greater inclusion, equity, and spaces for community members to participate in meaningful activities and live life to the fullest.

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