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RICHIE / 622 Clifton Ave


I grew up first in Japan, then Nicaragua, - in rural Central America. We then moved to the USA.

I have happy memories from my childhood living in house up on a hill overlooking Yokohama. We had 12 dogs which were not allowed in the house, and a duck. The floor in the house was very smooth – my dad would roll me up in a little bundle and slide me across the floor because it made me laugh. When we left Japan, it was in a Pan American “China Clipper” via San Francisco.


A happy place to me looks like a traditional Japanese wooden house, with a veranda all around.

Important objects from my personal and family life include kimonos, a cabinet full of Japanese stuff, artisanal Japanese bowls I found in southern Japan - one for each in the family, handmade by the potter I bought them from in a showroom built around a huge old tree. A Boy Scout compass that I’ve had since my early youth and took camping with me all the time. My unique Japanese name stamp with an image of a red carp flying into the sky. My favorite bicycle: (I like the colors black and red, because they remind me of Japanese calligraphy), but my favorite bike is blue and my home has a lot of Avocado green and salmon. The house is surrounded by lots of shady green - the stuff that gave Forest Hill its name.


Chrysanthemum is an important flower to me because it’s my mom’s name in Japanese. There’s a connection to nature in my past - living on the pacific coast of Nicaragua, not far from the president’s beach compound where there were peacocks strutting around and not far from the jungle, too. I am also connected to places in nature in New Jersey, - through doing a survival course in Waywayanda State Park, which used to be private property but was donated

to the state.


There are certain animals that I associate with my personal / family history, like dogs.

Also, the cougar. When I was around eight in Nicaragua, we had to go on a cougar hunt, because it was killing granddad's cattle, I remember riding with my uncle  into the jungle in the back of a pick-up.


Family staples connected to my heritage are soba noodles, pickled veggies, seaweed and sushi.

I have long history in Newark, I went to elementary and high school here, my second girlfriend lived in Forest Hill and I remember really liking the neighbourhood. Back then I never thought I would end up living here myself.


To celebrate my heritage and culture and I have learned archery and use Japanese knives for prepping food. Local or community sites that hold special significance to me and my family include our favorite local bakery (now long gone), - Giordano’s, not far from cathedral, - they made the most delicious Italian bread, like panela. Certain aspects of my heritage and culture are not represented that well in the community. The Cherry Blossom Fest, which everyone loves, has deep Japanese roots, but unfortunately none of the food vendors offer Japanese food.

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