About Nanako


My family pre-pandemic in my hometown Boulder, Colorado. My parents, who both grew up in Tokyo during the war, encouraged me in my interest in Japan and the immigrant experience. Dad told me family secrets shortly before he died in 2014. After Mom passed away during the pandemic, I’ve devoted myself to telling their stories before they are forgotten.  

In October 2022 I visited my son Joe who started graduate studies at Tokyo University as an international student. Japan has changed a lot since I first lived there as a five year old. (Dad took me and the family when he taught at his alma mater – Tokyo University.) I enjoy noticing the evolution of the city over the course of my seven different stays there.  

I also stay in touch with my other homes. Jakarta. Indonesia where I lived the year after the 1998 riots. Bucharest, Romania and Nijmegen, the Netherlands, where I was as a middle school student while Dad was a visiting professor at local universities.  

I grew up in the American West. Boulder, Colorado is my birthplace and childhood home. Dad was a physics professor at the University of Colorado. After graduating from CU, I went to NYC to attend the School of International Affairs at Columbia University.   Now I’m in Seattle which seems to have a nice mix of culture and nature.

Currently, I write short stories and am working on my first novel, Paper Ghosts. See my blog posts about writing fiction. I also narrate books. I translated and published Tei, A Memoir of the End of War and Beginning of Peace, published Kwaidan, Japanese ghost stories and insect studies, and Tale of Genji. My audiobooks are available under Nanako Water on Audible

I use the pen name Nanako Water because the first kanji character of my last name Mizushima is Water.

(24) Nana Mizushima 2015-04-02 21-03-46

Tokyo 1962

Dressed up for ShichiGoSan Festival.

Nanako Water