Oregon prison’s healing garden offers renewed perspective

In 2014, Johnny Cofer, who is incarcerated at the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem, Ore. told the institution’s activities director, Patrice Lans, he would love to see a Japanese garden and koi pond outside in the yard of the facility. At the Oregon State Penitentiary, there is an activities department, consisting of 11 clubs, one […]

A kid-friendly primer on Japan

ALL ABOUT JAPAN: STORIES, SONGS CRAFTS AND GAMES FOR KIDS By Willamarie Moore; Illustrated by Kazumi Wilds (North Clarendon, Vt.: Tuttle Publishing, 2017, 64 pp., $14.95, hardcover) Here’s all the information you’d enjoy about Japan, everything from clothing to vocabulary to holidays. Interesting sections include “Introducing Japan,” “Everyday Life,” “Holidays and Celebrations,” plus “Language and […]

A deep dive into the world of tsukemono

JAPANESE PICKLED VEGETABLES: 129 HOMESTYLE RECIPES FOR TRADITIONAL BRINED, VINEGARED AND FERMENTED PICKLES By Machiko Tateno (North Clarendon, Vt.: Tuttle Publishing, 2019, 144 pp., $16.99, paperback) There are many reasons why pickles are the “in” food, so it’s with great excitement that I review this new book that is sure to attract the attention of […]

Learning life lessons with Grandma

BA-CHAN THE NINJA GRANDMA: AN ADVENTURE WITH LITTLE KUNOICHI THE NINJA GIRL Authored and illustrated by Sanae Ishida (Seattle: Sasquatch Books, 2018, 32 pp., $16.99, hardcover) Here’s a ninja tale starring the adventures of little Kunoichi, released in 2018. This one pairs up “Ba-chan,” the “Ninja Grandma,” and her granddaughter. This is the third book […]

Examining the stratification of NYC’s Nikkei

DISTANT ISLANDS: THE JAPANESE AMERICAN COMMUNITY IN NEW YORK CITY, 1876-1930s By Daniel H. Inouye (University Press of Colorado: Louisville, Colo., 2018, 360 pp., $34.95, paperback; $27.95, Ebook) “Distant Islands: The Japanese American Community in New York City, 1876-1930s” by Daniel H. Inouye is one of the first books to devote in-depth research into this […]

An examination of racism in 1920s Hawai‘i’s society

RACED TO DEATH IN 1920s HAWAI‘I: INJUSTICE AND REVENGE IN THE FUKUNAGA CASE By Jonathan Y. Okamura (Champaign, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, 2019, 252 pp., $27.95, paperback; $99, cloth; $14.95, Ebook) A few years ago, I reviewed in these pages Jonathan Okamura’s book “From Race to Ethnicity.” I welcomed the chance to present to […]

Making sense of JA millennials

Japanese American Millennials: Rethinking Generation, Community, and Diversity Edited by Michael Omi, Dana Y. Nakano and Jeffrey T. Yamashita (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2019, 301 pp., $39.99, paperback) As we welcome the year 2020, it should be abundantly clear that a younger generation known as millennials (for the purposes of this particular book, the editors […]

The Great Unknown and the Unknown Great: Chiura Obata: American illustrator

One area of United States culture in which Asian Americans have been able to make a substantial contribution is the visual arts. Yet visual artists and their production have remained fairly obscure in discussions of Asian American experience, at least as compared with literary creators and performing artists. To be sure, even compared with members […]

The real deal on the first Japanese colony in the U.S.

The Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Colony Farm and the Creation of Japanese America By Daniel A. Métraux (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & LIttlefield, 2019, 158 pp., $85, hardcover) There are books that I feel all members of the Japanese American community should have in their personal library: Michi Nishiura Weglyn’s “Years of Infamy: The Untold Story […]

Layoffs by community legal center spark controversy

LOS ANGELES — The sudden decision by one of the nation’s leading Asian American civil rights and legal services organizations to lay off 19 of its employees on Oct. 7, because of what it stated was a financial crisis, has led to protests by the staff and former employees amid accusations that the organization had […]

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