As a child growing up in California in the 1980s, I learned my share of Japanese words. Sushi, which my family would get for a treat on birthdays. Mochi (chewy rice cake), ramen and karaoke — all encountered at the Japanese shopping arcade downtown.
And then there was kamikaze. I don’t know where I learned that word. I think it must have been burned so deeply into America’s collective consciousness during World War II that even a child 40 years later absorbed it automatically.