By TONY OSUMI
(With contributions by Grant Sunoo, Gary Mayeda, Danny Molina, Jeff Shu-Ho Lane, Glen Kitayama, Emi Gusukuma, Mark Yoshida, Daren Mooko, Jenni Kuida, Maiya Kuida-Osumi, traci ishigo, and Ryan Yokota)
In 1996, “101 Ways to Tell If You’re Japanese American” hit these Rafu pages and took off. Now, here’s another Japanese American list with a zombie twist. Yes, it’s graphic, morbid, even a sukoshi scary. Although not as frightening as America’s rising poverty rates, voter suppression laws, and unrestrained police killings of unarmed people of color. That stuff is real.
If you’re Nikkei and find yourself in a post-apocalyptic society filled with zombie walkers or even in a 21st-century declining world power, don’t panic. Common Japanese American household items will also be your friend. Who knew daikon could be so deadly?
But to live beyond day-to-day survival, we’ll need to channel our Issei elders and their fighting spirit. Together, let’s build as we fight. Let’s connect with neighbors, live simply, work sustainably, and share resources. Zombies hate that.
Let’s redefine success by how well we serve the common good. Martin Luther King Jr. was on to something when he talked about creating a “beloved community.” If we do these things, the zombies of this world won’t have a chance. Gambare!
1. Put a hashi through its ear.
2. Mash it with a mochitsuki mallet.
3. Go old-school obaachan: Slap it upside the head with a zori.
4. Stab it with a knife carved out of kamaboko wood.
5. Head-first into an Obon shave ice machine.
6. Monku, monku, monku it to death.
7. Dance the Tanko Bushi with a real sharp shovel.
8. Jab it with a “Justice Now, Reparations Now” wooden rally sign.
9. Shame it to death by saying, “Why can’t you be more like your undead cousin?”
10. Face-plant off the balcony at the Far East Cafe.
11. Pummel with the world’s largest Pocky stick.
12. Beat it with chrome bumper from a Datsun 510.
13. Crack it over the head with a Tigers Tournament trophy.
14. Organize it to death with a folding ironing board, like activist Yuri Kochiyama.
15. Head-stomp it with wooden getas.
16. Burn rubber over it with a 1963 Corvette Stingray,1968 Corvette, 1970 Boss Mustang 302 or any other car designed by Larry Shinoda.
17. Push it into a koi pond full of piranhas.
18. Smack it over the head with golf clubs carried by Nisei on their morning walks.
19. Put your uncle’s 522nd Field Artillery Battalion bayonet — the one he used to liberate Dachau Death Camp — into action.
20. Crush it under the historic weight of our community winning redress and reparations.
21. Smash it with a George Nakashima wood slab coffee table.
22. Death by embarrassment: force it to go benjo in Gila River latrine.
23. Serve it Hurricane Popcorn sprinkled with gunpowder.
24. Grind its skull in supersized suribachi.
25. Borrow Oddjob’s flying bowler hat.
26. Lace up some ice skates and go for the gold like Kristi Yamaguchi with a double toe kick to the temple.
27. Drag it under a Vegas turnaround bus.
28. Thrash it with the JACL “Power of Words” handbook by using more truthful terms like “American concentration camp” and “incarceration” instead of the euphemistic “relocation center” and “internment.”
29. Face-plant with cast-iron frying pan after making bacon fried rice.
30. Use it as fish bait on a Baja tuna run.
31. Fatal splinter infection from June Kuramoto’s koto.
32. Rabbit-punch it with a roll of nickels from the California Club and Casino.
33. Katonk it with a one-gallon can of shoyu.
34. Fry it like a dango.
35. Flip the script: bite it in the head while wearing Mickey Rooney’s fake buck teeth used in his racist yellowface portrayal in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”
36. Grind through its temple with barbed wire from Manzanar, Poston, Heart Mountain or any other WWII U.S. concentration camp.
37. Crush its skull with a giant New Year’s kagami-mochi. Extra respect if mikan stays on.
38. Smother it with ethnic solidarity between Japanese American and Mexican Americans grown during the 1903 Oxnard Sugar Beet Strike.
39. Push a pound of wasabi up its nose.
40. Run it over on the way to the White House, like Patsy Mink, the first Asian American to run for president of the United States.
41. Stab it in the atama with a Totoro mechanical pencil.
42. Nail it with a 20-pound bag of rice dropped off a skyscraper designed by architect Minoru Yamasaki.
43. Jack it up with a giant shamoji.
44. Fastball high and inside by Major League Baseball’s first Japanese American: Ryan Kurosaki.
45. Go beast-mode with Grandma’s purple pansy-covered air pump thermos.
46. Beat it with style, like San Jose taiko master PJ Hirabayashi.
47. Trounce it with the 3-pound trout you landed at Crowley Lake.
48. Slide a shoyu weenie into its ear and let loose Kuma, your 130-pound Akita.
49. Strike it with a bowling pin from Holiday Bowl.
50. Brain-freeze: Force-feed it deliciously queer rainbow shave ice with rainbow mochi bits.
51. Go road rage warrior with a Wink Mirror from your lowered 1980s Celica.
52. Back over it with the fish man’s truck.
53. Go Bad Boy with a pillowcase filled with cans of Spam.
54. Defeat it in the Supreme Court, like justice seeker Mitsuye Endo did in 1944.
55. Plant a kaki tree in its mouth and tend to it like a bonsai master until it grows through its brain.
56. Paper mâché a picture of Gen. DeWitt, Lillian Baker, Michelle Malkin or Jonathan Hoenig on its face, fill it with Botan Candy and Hi-Chew, and turn it into a piñata for the annual Manzanar Pilgrimage in April.
57. Overpower it with the poetic prowess of Amy Uyematsu and Janice Mirikitani.
58. Set it aflame with a candle from the Little Tokyo 9/11 Vigil for Arab and Muslim Americans.
59. Cymbal-crash it with two heavily starched zabuton.
60. Get world record holder and Olympic gold metal weightlifter Tommy Kono to clean and jerk its head off.
61. Conjure up some obake to fight it on your behalf.
62. Power-fist it for Asian American and ethnic studies classes.
63. Feed it a Donut Man fresh strawberry donut filled with C-4.
64. “Giant Robot… Atomic Punch.”
65. Get actor Yuji Okumoto’s bully character from “Karate Kid II” to give it the evil eye.
66. Don’t be mottainai: reusable hashi up the nose.
67. Tie it down to First Street during the 1972 Nisei Week Parade and let the Van Troi Anti-Imperialist Youth Brigade march over it.
68. Mow it down with jiichan’s lawn mower.
69. Electrify it at a live Visiting Violette concert.
70. Boil its head in a shabu shabu pot.
71. Death by a Thousand Cuts: Trample it with thousands of tiny tennis shoes during a JACCC Chibi K Run.
72. Hit-and-run it over at the Little Tokyo corner of First Street and Central Avenue with a bus bound for barbed wire and barracks.
73. Volleyball spikes to the head by the whole Sato family.
74. Give it a facial with hot okayu.
75. Try starving it out: Gather 5-10 zombies, try to decide where to go out to eat for human flesh and never come to a decision.
76. Shoot it to death, like James Hatsuki Wakasa was at Topaz by a U.S. Army sentry who was later found “not guilty.”
77. Face-first into cactus ikebana.
78. Get NBA Assistant Coach Natalie Nakase to make it run suicide drills, literally.
79. Give it a beat-down with an Okinawan sanshin for not supporting U.S. military base closures in the homeland.
80. Hide a stick of dynamite inside a patty of hom yu, box of Fugetsu Do manju or platter of seven-layer Jello.
81. Get a Japanese American supermarket produce manager to go Yojimbo on it with a box cutter.
82. Dogtown Style: drag it behind Shogo Kubo and Peggy Oki’s skateboard at Bicknell Hill in Santa Monica.
83. Introduce it to your “little friend,” a double-edged Japanese razor saw.
84. The Big Payback: Cash in a $20,000 redress and reparations check for all pennies, stuff them into a WWII 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team Army duffel bag and drop it on its head from a Manzanar guard tower.
85. Slice and dice it with a katana.
86. Slam-dance it to death at the Atomic Café with Nancy Sekizawa.
87. Persuade it to give up brains by introducing it to the beauty of freshly fried andagi at the Okinawa American Association Bazaar.
88. Bunka craft needle through the eye.
89. Feed it a fatal concoction of raw ginger, wasabi peas, Sriracha, and decade-old takuan.
90. Judo body-slam it like 8th-degree black belt Frank Emi of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee.
91. Long walk off the short roof at Little Tokyo Towers.
92. Deliver running head bump while wearing a Go For Broke baseball cap and a Members Only jacket.
93. Grandpa’s gardening shears under the chin and up.
94. Get Wataru Misaka — the first non-white player in the NBA — to do a wicked crossover that breaks the zombie’s ankle so bad the fracture travels to its head.
95. Smash with a wooden crate from a Boyle Heights family-owned produce stand.
96. Beat it honorably with the U.S. Constitution like Lt. Ehren Watada.
97. Poetic Justice: Lethal paper cut from an Executive Order 9066 poster.
98. Kill it with Hello Kitty’s cuteness.
99. Go organic: Whack it with a homegrown daikon radish to the rhythm of “I Dream a Garden” by Nobuko Miyamoto.
100. Try natto. There’s gotta be a way with natto.
101. Invite it to dinner, hide an M-80 in a California roll, and enyro, enryo, enryo until it takes the last piece.
Illustrations by Maiya Kuida-Osumi