Classic haiku poems in beautiful dreamscapes

MY FIRST BOOK OF HAIKU POEMS Translated by Esperanza Ramirez-Christensen, illustrated by Tracy Gallup (North Clarendon, Vt.: Tuttle Publishing, 2019, 48 pp., $16.99, hardcover) “My First Book of Haiku Poems” introduces children to classic haiku written by Japanese haiku masters such as Basho, Issa and Shiki. Each poem, lyrically translated by Esperanza Ramirez-Christensen, a professor […]

Histories of loss and leaving

SKY COUNTRY By Christine Kitano (Rochester, N.Y.: BOA Editions Ltd., 2017, 104 pp., paperback) Ithaca College professor Christine Kitano’s “Sky Country” is a thought-provoking collection of poems that speak to Kitano’s mixed Korean-Japanese background. She organizes her book of poetry thematically into five sections each interwoven with the personal and collective histories of Korean and […]

Seeing through ‘Haiku Eyes’

WRITE YOUR OWN HAIKU FOR KIDS: SEE THE WORLD THROUGH “HAIKU EYES” By Patricia Donegan (North Clarendon, Vt.: Tuttle Publishing, 2018, 48 pp., $10.99, hardcover) Poetry has often gotten a bad rap among kids, much to the chagrin of nerdy teacher types like me. I’m always on the lookout for resources to make poetry and […]

Late poet’s grace shines through tragedies

ARE YOU AN ECHO? THE LOST POETRY OF MISUZU KANEKO Test and translation by David Jacobson, Sally Ito and Michiko Tsuboi; illustrations by Toshikado Hajiri (Seattle: Chin Music Press, 2016, 64 pp., $19.50, hardcover) This is a sad and lovely story about a young poet and the legacy of her work. A poet named Setsuo […]

Crossing the threshold in ‘The Yellow Door’

THE YELLOW DOOR By Amy Uyematsu (Pasadena, Calif.: Red Hen Press, 2015, 112 pp., $15.95, paperback) Journey through a post-war Japanese American landscape with Amy Uyematsu as she defines race, unpacks the family incarceration experience and discovers a confluence with Japanese culture in “The Yellow Door,” her latest book of poetry. The power bursts forth […]

THE GREAT UNKNOWN AND THE UNKNOWN GREAT: The life and writings of hapa poet Ambrose Amadeus Uchiyamada

This week’s column traces some of the history of a hapa poet and journalist with the magnificent name Ambrose Amadeus Uchiyamada, who grew up under rather unusual circumstances. His father Thomas Morkiyo Uchiyamada, a university-trained engineer from Japan who came to the United States for further schooling in the first years of the 20th century, […]

Musings from a San Francisco native

JOURNEY By Peter Kenichi Yamamoto (San Francisco: self published, 2012, 71 pp., $8.95, paperback) Peter Yamamoto, a longtime member of San Francisco’s Japantown community, is often seen volunteering at the National Japanese American Historical Society. His artistic background from his parents and his roots in social activism including being a resident of the I-Hotel during […]

A lyrical look at the ‘Japanese Plymouth Rock’

STRONG AS SILK: THE STORY OF THE GOLD HILL WAKAMATSU TEA AND SILK COLONY By Brigit Truex (San Pedro, Calif.: Lummox Press, 2012, 138 pp., $18, paperback) “Strong as Silk” is a wonderful summer read and an interesting attempt to stir the imagination of what it must have been like as the historic Wakamatsu Tea […]

Japanese American centenarian donates life work and more to Vermont college

NEWBURGH, New York  — In the 1920s, Tokyo high school student Hideichi Oshiro was moved by a haiku poem he never forgot. In it, Edo era poet Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) described coming across the subtle beauty of a wildflower during a walk in the mountains. “I wanted to make this kind of haiku in my […]

Gifts galore at JA Museum of San Jose

  Furoshiki (Japanese Wrapping Cloth) ($8 to $18) Sure, it’s a centuries-old tradition that was once used as a means to carry necessities, but the lucky recipient of these furoshiki are sure to be stylin’! These furoshiki represent a modern take on the art, and are premade with ribbon ties, perfect for a quick wrap […]

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