Book Reviews

A wonderful introduction to Japanese cuisine and more

JAPAN EATS! AN EXPLORER’S GUIDE TO JAPANESE FOOD By Betty Reynolds (North Clarendon, Vt.: Tuttle Publishing, 2020, 72 pp., $12.99, hard cover) As travelers to Japan know, eating out can be an adventure. You need to know what you’re ordering, how to order it, and how to eat it properly. “Japan Eats! An Explorer’s Guide to Japanese Food” is the guide to help you navigate your way through the pleasures and pitfalls of dining in […]

A glimpse into Japan’s past

TONO MONOGATARI By Shigeru Mizuki, translated by Zack Davisson (Montreal: Drawn and Quarterly, 2021, 256 pp., $24.95, paperback) Known for his ghost stories, Shigeru Mizuki is in his element with “Tono Monogatari.” Focusing solely on a collection of short stories collected from the Tono region of Iwate Prefecture, Drawn & Quarterly’s latest translated work by the late manga artist is a master’s homage to his roots. Mizuki amassed an eclectic oeuvre […]

Unknown discoveries written by Japanese Angel Island immigrants come to light

VOICES OF ANGEL ISLAND: INSCRIPTIONS AND IMMIGRANT POETRY, 1910-1945 By Charles Egan (New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2020, 342 pp., $108 hard cover / $86.40 ebook) The Chinese poetry carved in the walls of the former U.S. immigration station on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay is known by visitors and scholars, and played a large part in the buildings being saved for future generations. What is less known is that Japanese, Korean, Russian, Punjabi and other immigrants also […]

Visit Japan with Neko the Cat!

JAPAN POP-UP BOOK By Sam Ita (North Clarendon, Vt.: Tuttle Publishing, 2021, 12 pp., $22.99, hard cover) “Japan Pop-Up Book” is the follow-up to Sam Ita’s “Tokyo Pop-Up Book.” It chronicles the adventures of Chico and his cat Neko. Chico is a young hapa teen who lives with his relatives in Japan. In this book, Neko the Cat stows away on a bullet train and leads Chico to several of […]

Book on Heart Mountain football team achieves brilliance

THE EAGLES OF HEART MOUNTAIN: A TRUE STORY OF FOOTBALL, INCARCERATION, AND RESISTANCE IN WORLD WAR II AMERICA By Bradford Pearson (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2021, 400 pp., $28, hard cover) For a number of years I have been working on a sports and society book treating the social and cultural transformation of Southern California in the early Cold War period through the lens of prep football as epitomized by a Dec. 14, 1956, California Interscholastic Federation championship game between Downey High School […]

A digestible telling of familiar snippets of JA WWII history

FACING THE MOUNTAIN: A TRUE STORY OF JAPANESE AMERICAN HEROES IN WORLD WAR II By Daniel James Brown (New York: Viking Books, 2021, 560 pp., $30, hard cover)  Daniel James Brown’s “Facing the Mountain: A True Story of Japanese American Heroes in World War II” recounts the narrative of the Japanese American wartime experience by focusing on the individual histories of Gordon Hirabayashi, Katsugo “Kats” Miho, Fred Shiosaki and Rudy Tokiwa. Hirabayashi famously contested Executive Order 9066 in the courts, […]

How to make mochi

MOCHI MAGIC: 50 TRADITIONAL AND MODERN RECIPES FOR THE JAPANESE TREAT By Kaori Becker (North Adams, Mass.: Storey Publishing, 2020, 192 pp., $16.95, paperback) “Mochi Magic” is a fun, cute — in fact downright adorable — and incredibly useful book of recipes for making, you guessed it, mochi. The diminutive volume is just 6-and-a-half inches […]

Asian American all-stars

AWESOME ASIAN AMERICANS: 20 STARS WHO MADE AMERICA AMAZING By Phil Amara and Oliver Chin, illustrated by Juan Calle (San Francisco: Immedium, 2020, 128 pp., $17.95, paperback) Here’s a book describing 20 Asian Americans who became trailblazers, paving the way for all Asians in our country in diverse fields. “Not all are household names. Some […]

On being Asian American in Hollywood

INTERIOR CHINATOWN By Charles Yu (New York: Pantheon Books, 2020, 288 pp., $16, paperback) During Act I of Charles Yu’s comical and award-winning novel, “Interior Chinatown,” I had a flashback to the mid-1980s when my late father, Nisei writer/actor Hiroshi Kashiwagi, landed a role as a Chinese coolie in a murder mystery play. As Yu […]

A window into the resistance at Granada (Amache)

FINDING SOLACE IN THE SOIL: AN ARCHEOLOGY OF GARDENS AND GARDENERS AT AMACHE By Bonnie J. Clark (Louisville, Colo: University Press of Colorado, 2020, 224 pp., $58, hard cover) This new book, as its title suggests, explores the archaeological digs directed by author Bonnie J. Clark on the grounds of the wartime Japanese American confinement […]

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