Archives for 2016

The history and legacy of ‘ragtag’ plantation kids who became national champion swimmers

THE THREE-YEAR SWIM CLUB: THE UNTOLD STORY OF MAUI’S SUGAR DITCH KIDS AND THEIR QUEST FOR OLYMPIC GLORY By Julie Checkoway (New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2015, 432 pp., $27, hardcover) My favorite Southern California bookstore is in Santa Barbara. Although located in a commonplace strip mall on the outskirts of this picturesque, Spanish-themed resort […]

Int’l friendship born out of tsunami tragedy

THE EXTRAORDINARY VOYAGE OF KAMOME: A TSUNAMI BOAT COMES HOME By Lori Dengler and Amya Miller; designed and illustrated by Amy Uyeki (Arcata, Calif.: Humboldt State University Press, 2015, 46 pp., $9.99, paperback) This is a true story about an unlikely little fishing boat that brought high school students from Rikuzentakata, Japan and Crescent City, […]

‘Racism, fraud and murder,’ a dramatization of the WWII incarceration

ALLEGIANCE By Kermit Roosevelt (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2015, 400 pp., $27.95, hardcover) One of the more unique fictional representations of the wartime incarceration of Japanese Americans, and the legal issues that stemmed from it, is Kermit Roosevelt’s compelling new novel “Allegiance.” Roosevelt, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania who is himself […]

Couple’s unorthodox letters depict life in multiple wartime camps

TAKEN FROM THE PARADISE ISLE: THE HOSHIDA FAMILY STORY Edited by Heidi Kim (Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2015, 304 pp., $29.95, hardcover) This book tells the difficult and painful story of a Japanese American couple from Hawai‘i and their wartime incarceration experience. George Hoshida was arrested in early 1942 by the United States government, […]

RABBIT RAMBLINGS: Fighting for just ideals

We’ve had such a flurry of mentions of camp history in the last several months that obviously there’s renewed interest about what happened to us during World War II. We did have national attention when the Rago auction was taking place, and then that mayor of Roanoke, Va. brought it up apropos the question of […]

Girls’ U.S. sojourn a ‘historical tragedy’

Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back By Janice P. Nimura (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2015, 336 pp., $26.95, hardcover) Over the years, I have been honored to be privy to the transnational stories both of Japanese women who lived in the United States and Japanese American […]

THE HEART OF KANJI: (Nihon Machi Hyaku Jyu Nen) 110th year of San Francisco’s Japantown

æ—¥ (ni, hi, nichi) means sun or day. This character is from the shape of the sun. 本 (hon, moto) means origin or book. This character is from the shape of a tree and its roots. Together, this character is Nihon or Japan. 町 (machi) means town. This character indicates two parts. The left side […]

THE GREAT UNKNOWN AND THE UNKNOWN GREAT: Regan v. King and the origins of the Black-Nisei alliance

The 1942-1943 federal court case Regan v. King, which arose out of a lawsuit by the American Legion and the Native Sons of the Golden West to disenfranchise American citizens of Japanese origin, marks a landmark in legal struggles for civil rights. Not only did the court’s decision reaffirm the principle of birthright citizenship of […]

The state of San Francisco Japantown’s businesses

At the dawn of its 110th year, San Francisco’s Japantown currently faces challenges in maintaining its identity as a regional hub of Japanese and Japanese American culture. About five decades since the Japan Center was built, many of the neighborhood’s longtime business owners have come of retirement age. As these businesses close, the neighborhood faces […]

An Asian American family’s first trip to Japan

Packed with suitcases within suitcases, the Toyota Highlander swung into San Jose’s Mineta Airport while the Japanese phrases ran through my head. “Nihongo ga dekimasu ka? Wakarimasen.” Do you speak Japanese? I don’t understand. I was ready! That exhausted my Japanese vocabulary, except for a wide selection of food essentials like mochi, senbei and manju. […]

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