New Year's Edition

Our annual New Year's editions include an extra helping of original feature stories, a Winter Book Review, a piece on Preserving Our Japantowns, as well as contributions from all our columnists. Our 2011 issue includes the first annual Nikkei of the Year award, which went to Olympian Apolo Anton Ono. Also inside, an interview with Korean American actor Tim Kang and an update on LA's Little Tokyo.

Nikkei must speak out against police brutality

The other day, I received a petition in an e-mail asking me to tell PepsiCo, which makes Doritos,to stop buying the palm oil it uses to make the chips. “That sound when you bite down on Doritos … is the sound of rainforests being ‘crunched’ … for massive palm oil plantations ….” It seems that […]

THE GREAT UNKNOWN AND THE UNKNOWN GREAT: FDR’s acts of diplomacy through his friendships with Japanese

A central figure in Japanese American history is President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In my first book, “By Order of the President” (2001), I looked at Roosevelt’s signing of Executive Order 9066, which led to the mass incarceration of some 120,000 persons of Japanese descent in American concentration camps. One of my book’s main arguments was […]

Baseball as a symbol of hope

BARBED WIRE BASEBALL By Marissa Moss, illustrated by Yuko Shimizu (New York: Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2013, 48 pp., $18.95, hardcover) What made baseball so compelling for Japanese American World War II inmates? “Barbed Wire Baseball” gives us a glimpse of one man’s yearning for the sport from Gila River, Ariz.’s desert concentration camp. […]

Connecting in the aftermath of the tsunami

A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING  By Ruth Ozeki (New York: Penguin Books, 2013, 432 pp., $28.95, hardcover) From a French Maid Café in Akihabara, the electronic district in Tokyo, the fast-clip banter of a 16-year-old girl initiates a spirited candor and yearning as she proposes to share her last rites in her diary. She […]

‘An atrocity: The hostility and terrorism’ Nisei vets faced

NISEI SOLDIERS BREAK THEIR SILENCE: COMING HOME TO HOOD RIVER By Linda Tamura (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2012, 360 pp, $24.95, paperback)   Linda Tamura’s “Nisei Soldiers Break Their Silence” may not be a military history, despite its title, but it is indeed the story of an atrocity: the hostility and terrorism that greeted […]

A foreigner in everyone’s eyes

GAIJIN: AMERICAN PRISONER OF WAR By Matt Faulkner (New York: Disney • Hyperion Books, 2014, 144 pp., $19.99, hardcover)   People of Japanese descent on the West Coast were, without regard to nationality, rounded up and placed in American concentration camps during World War II. The story is well known. Perhaps lesser known are the […]

A complex, seamy account of 20th century Nikkei

VOICES FROM THE CANEFIELDS: FOLK SONGS FROM JAPANESE IMMIGRANT WORKERS IN HAWAI‘I  By Franklin Odo  (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013, 272 pp., $55, hardcover)  In his most recent book, Franklin Odo, the former director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program, historically charts the role of holehole bushi, Japanese folk songs on the sugar […]

NIKKEI ANGEL ISLAND CHRONICLES: Japanese immigrants and Japanese Americans on Angel Island

The Oct. 4, 2014 Nikkei Angel Island Pilgrimage — presented by the Nichi Bei Foundation in partnership with the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation and National Japanese American Historical Society — sparked a lot of interest among Japanese Americans in their potential Angel Island roots, either immigrant ancestors or those who may have been briefly […]

The ‘invented fiction’ of the model minority and the controversy behind the JA Creed

THE COLOR OF SUCCESS: Asian Americans and the Origins of the Model Minority By Ellen D. Wu (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2014, 376 pp., $39.50, hard cover) SACRIFICING SOLDIERS ON THE NATIONAL MALL By Kristin Ann Hass (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013, 262 pp., $29.95, paperback)  These books by Ellen Wu and […]

THE HEART OF KANJI: Beautiful heart

Happy new year! I would like to talk about a “beautiful heart.” 美しい (utsukushii) means “beautiful or attractive,” which consists of two parts. The top part represents the form of a beautiful ram and the bottom part is a person who is standing. Together, utsukushii is a beautiful or attractive person. 心 (kokoro) means “heart,” […]

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