Michael Kenji "maka" Takahara

Dear Stan,

In 1996, I read my first Usagi Yojimbo graphic novel on Oahu while visiting my parents. The local library has five on the shelf and I read all five in two days. Your art was so clean and your storytelling was addictive.

College had opened my eyes to Japanese culture, through a Japanese cinema course and an intro to Asian-American studies course. Reading UY gave me a profound sense of pride for my Japanese culture/history. The stories were set in Japan, highlighted Japanese history and culture while being completely engaging regardless of reader’s background. You were telling great stories that entertained and introduced people to the Japanese experience. The fact that this comic series was written by, penciled, inked and lettered by a Japanese-American man made me proud. One of our own did good.

But as I visited
www.usagiyojimbo.com, I began to appreciate you more than just my idealized Japanese-American comic legend. You actually took the time to welcome people when they joined the dojo message board, answer their questions, share parts of your life and interact with them.

You treat your fans with respect.

Your respect is one of the key reasons why the Usagi Yojimbo Dojo is the BEST comic message boards on the internet. Your openness, willingness and positive posts helps set the example. As a result, we all have virtually met some of the nicest, thoughtful and generous people at Dojo.

Lately, Usagi Yojimbo has given me another joy: my ten years old daughter, Angela, is absorbed in Usagi Yojimbo’s world. She tore through all 22 graphic novels in about two weeks. She is constantly rereading them. I’ve been reading to her the issues that aren’t collected yet. It feels great to share our excitement together and spend quality time with her.

She will say something like, “That is so sad” when we read UY #116 “The Outlaw” or “Why did Gen say, ‘Sakura doesn’t have a brother?” We ask each other questions and come up with answers together. It is amazing to gain insight into her thoughts. I love that we are taking time to listen and share with one another.

Angela recently bought sandals because they “are like the one’s in old Japan.” “At first they were uncomfortable but now they are good.” We caught her in the back of the car saying “Ashshawashawasha” and waving her hands wildly. “What are you doing, Angela?” “I just had to act out that part of Usagi now.”

I hope my seven years old daughter, Cami, and I will have a similar Usagi experience together.

Positive Psychologist, Martin E. P. Seligman said when one takes the time to write a gratitude letter and presents it to another, that simple act can increase the happiness of the receiver and the giver for six months.

I hope this whole gratitude gift brings you much happiness. It already has for me.

With gratitude, respect, hope and peace,

Michael Kenji “maka” Takahara