Casey Neistat, a YouTuber said that “ok, so…” was the obligatory way for video bloggers to start off, so I am going to make it my blog intro.
Ok, so, my name is Greg Taniguchi, and I am a 3rd/4th generation Japanese American, a sansei/yonsei.
I had most recently spent the last two-and-a-half decades in Los Angeles and the SF Bay Area although I was born in Englewood, Cowarado.
I really avoid and do not like to talk about myself, so this page is going to suck because I really struggled to write it.This section is poorly written because I just busted it out although I will have to revise it.
I am from Colorado because after the war, my dad’s family did not want to return to California after being forcibly removed from their homes and interned at Rohwer in Tillar, Arkansas, during the war. That is why I grew up with Chipotle (where it was founded) versus Yoshinoya (well, we did have the first location in the United States).
That experience during the war encouraged Japanese Americans like my dad’s family to settle in Colorado, which was a safe-haven for Japanese due to Governor Ralph L. Carr.
As for my mom’s side of the family, my great-grandfather Gohachi Nakata was an Issei (first-generation) who came from Kumamoto, Japan in 1903.
His son, my grandfather Frank Takeshi Nakata, also an Issei (born in Japan) was thirteen out of one-hundred of his graduating class, so he had intended on enlisting in the Japanese Naval Academy. Instead of enlisting, he ended up on a farm in Brighton, CO at his father’s request, along with his younger brother. If this had not happened, this post would possibly be a lot shorter.
My grandfather received an award presented by Japan’s Prince Hitachi for his contribution to the United States as an “Outstanding Citizen and Farmer” in 1970, and in 1977 he received “Outstanding Farmer in Adams County.”I won a glass mug once for a 1st finish in a judo tournament.
During my grandfather’s time in CO, he went on to become the president of the BJA (Brighton Japanese Association) from 1924-30 and the first president of the YBA (Young Buddhist Association) in 1934.
He was also a hugely successful farmer, and he received an award presented by Japan’s Prince Hitachi for his contribution to the United States as an “Outstanding Citizen and Farmer” in 1970, and in 1977 he received “Outstanding Farmer in Adams County.”
He was also the first individual in Colorado to be presented the 5th-degree Emperor award “Order of the Sacred Treasure” (zui-ho-sho ju-kosho) service medal. This award recognized my grandfather’s outstanding contribution toward promoting a good relationship between Japan and the United States.
JDM, Off-Road, to Carbon Ceramic
I have nowhere near the list of achievements my family has had, but after a couple of decades in the automotive aftermarket, I do have a shortlist of my accolades. The first being, I was and still am a huge car enthusiast, which led me to be one of the first import performance shops in the S.F. Bay Area in the mid-’90s.
Growing up, I had a passion for cars, and I always pursued the things that I love. It was why I pursued an Industrial Design degree in transportation design.I still love cars, but who just wants one.
After closing that business, I went on to work in dot-com, working in business development, and as a Marketing Director for several automotive aftermarket companies. In my most recent roles, I was instrumental in building and refining several brands in Los Angeles, which include Gibson Performance, Group-A/Skunk2/Kraftwerks, Race Technologies: Sabelt, Brembo Performance, and Brembo Racing (and a small stint in R/C with Axial).
After all that, I am going to do what I love which is being in the food and restaurant industry although I still love cars, that won’t change.
A Passion for Japanese Food Culture
Today, my primary focus is on Japanese-centric businesses because the goal of Oishii Desu is the same as my grandfather’s. Whereas my grandfather did things based in and around Buddhism, the focus of Oishii Desu is around Japanese food and the businesses that make up the Japanese/Japanese American community. This community also includes all the people with an interest in Japanese food and culture because the hope is to unite not only Japanese Americans but also the greater American community of all ethnicities in the same spirit my grandfather had done. Frank Nakata may have done that through “sangha” (community) which is a Westernized interpretation of the Buddhist word, but I think that same spirit carries on over to the goal of Oishii Desu.
In between, blogging, restaurant pop-ups, the pandemic happened which led to Your Stomach Loves Us (YSLU). A non-profit initiative that was started to give out free meals to neighborhoods experiencing incidents of hate/violence (we were acknowledged by GoFundMe which awarded us $5,000 as part of a StopAsianHate movement. We hope that these gestures of goodwill would let people know “we got’chu.”The last straw for Greg was the incident of the Asian women being punched with no one helping in NYC, and that is when he hit up, co-founder, Karl Palma (who is the man and an all around good dude).
Muuuuuuuuuuuuuuurica (As a Side Note)
As an American, my blog is counter-culture to the Japanese culture, which is not opinionated. So many of the things I say are offensive (obnoxious) to the Japanese regardless of how pertinent it may be or how researched my content is. The only time you will hear an opinion from a Japanese person is while drunk. I say things sober, hungover, and slightly buzzed.
I only started the blog because I was shocked at how badly the mainstream media was doing with producing content about Japanese food, which was devoid of the cultural aspect. Nothing against “you people,” but I got this (only out of necessity because I am not a writer).I have no problem writing about what it is like to be an underachiever, a topic I am C+ at (on a curve that is an A+).
The point is tho, is not to be a dick just because, but unlike Japan, the United States and the culture we have here is the type that encourages communication. An open exchange that cultivates some of the top companies in the world from Google, Facebook, Apple to the creation of the web. That sort of open dialogue is what I intend on promoting because I want to build a cultural bridge, like Nisei Week in DTLA.