Aug 5

Let’s Talk Japan Podcast, Episode 14 – A Conversation with Yokohama Yankee Author Leslie Helm


Let’s Talk Japan is a twice monthly, interview format podcast covering a wide range of Japan-related topics.  Host Nick Harling (Mie-ken, 2001-03) lived in Japan from 2001 until 2005, including two great years as a JET Program participant in Mie-Ken.  He practices law in Washington, D.C., and lives with his wife who patiently listens to him talk about Japan . . . a lot.

Yokohama Yankee ImageIn this episode, Nick speaks with Leslie Helm, author of Yokohama Yankee: My Family’s Five Generations As Outsiders In Japan. 

The Helm family’s connection with Japan begins with Mr. Helms’ German great grandfather, Julius, who traveled to Japan as a young man in 1869, looking to make his way in the world.  Julius would go on to found Helm Brothers, a company with diverse interests related to what would become Yokohama’s booming port economy.  From there, the book’s narrative winds its way through four further generations of the Helm family.  Mr. Helm recounts not only the family’s participation in major historical events, but also offers a frank assessment of the personal and intra-family struggles each generation faced while living in Japan.  Together, these two aspects make for a compelling read.

Mr. Helm was born and raised in Yokohama and left Japan in the early 1970s to attend university before returning as a journalist to cover Japan for Business Weekand the Los Angeles Times.  He currently lives in Seattle, where he is the editor ofSeattle Business magazine.

Also, there is a JET alumni connection.  Joshua Powell (Saitama-ken, 2005-07), is responsible for the book’s award-winning design. JETwit previously highlighted his work HERE.



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