Christmas in Japan may have become a holiday for couples, cake and KFC, but for me it has always been a time for 家族 (kazoku, family).

Each Christmas I spend back home in Hawaii is a reminder of my identity as a fifth-generation Japanese-American. Like many other American families, we gather with our 親戚 (shinseki, relatives) on Christmas Day every year to share a meal and enjoy each other's company.

The holiday season, however, always used to fill me with curiosity — about the ancestors who came to the U.S. 100 years before us and the relatives we'd never spoken to living thousands of miles away. It was this curiosity that really sparked my interest in my Nikkei family history, and kick-started my ルーツ探し (rūtsu sagashi, "root-searching") quest.