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Browse > Theme > Immigrant experience

55 articles

A Century of Change: The Memoirs of Nellie Yae Sumiye Nakamura from 1902 to 2002 (book)

  • Books
  • Memoir
  • Coming of age, Death - inevitable or tragedy, Disillusionment and dreams, Displacement, Facing reality, Family - blessing or curse, Immigrant experience, Injustice, War - glory, necessity, pain, tragedy
  • Available

The recollections of a Nisei woman, from her childhood in the Santa Clara Valley, to her marriage, her family's incarceration at Santa Anita and Heart Mountain, and their efforts to rebuild their lives back in California after the war ended.

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The Brighter Side of Dark: Toyo Miyatake, 1895-1979 (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Expression through art, Immigrant experience
  • No availability

A 1996 short documentary film by Robert Nakamura about the life and career of Los Angeles photographer Toyo Miyatake. Through Miyatake's personal and artistic life (he was very much engaged with other modernists of the 1920s and '30s), the film reveals the vibrant artistic and intellectual milieu of Los Angeles's Little Tokyo district prior to World War II as well as the impact Executive Order 9066 and Miyatake's wartime incarceration had on his artistic career. Using a camera lens that he smuggled into the camp at Manzanar where he was incarcerated, Miyatake reconstructed a camera and eventually became the official camp photographer, producing iconic images of camp life and the landscape of the Eastern Sierras. After the war, Miyatake was able to reconstruct his photography business and resume work at his studio in Little Tokyo. For generations, he was the community's most trusted portrait photographer, enlisted for weddings, graduations, and ...

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Chrysanthemums and Salt (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Immigrant experience, Importance of community, Self-reliance
  • Available

Documentary film by Dianne Fukami on the Japanese American community in San Mateo, California, from its late 1800s origins to the outbreak of World War II. As hinted at by the film's title, Chrysanthemums and Salt largely focuses on two of the major industries that employed Japanese Americans before the war, growing and marketing chrysanthemums and salt companies that took advantage of the region's natural suitability for salt evaporation ponds. The film also covers Japanese American community life, the role of the churches and the outbreak of World War II and the reaction to the subsequent forced removal. Chrysanthemums and Salt is notable for including interviews with several Issei, conducted in Japanese with translated voiceovers. "Host" Jane Yanehiro narrates the film and also appears on camera.

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Hawaii, End of the Rainbow (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Immigrant experience, Injustice, Will to survive, Working class struggles
  • Available

Kazuo Miyamoto (1897–1988) was a Nisei doctor and author who was interned at various incarceration camps for the duration of World War II as a result of the publication of his observations during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945). During his incarceration at Sand Island, Miyamoto began writing Hawaii, End of the Rainbow, which took him seventeen years to complete. Although a fictional account of the experiences of Japanese immigrants spanning nearly seventy years from their arrival in the Islands to World War II, it provides key insights from a participant in these important events.

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Life behind Barbed Wire: The World War II Internment Memoirs of a Hawaii Issei (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Facing reality, Immigrant experience, Nationalism – complications, Role of men
  • Widely available

Internment memoir by Honolulu Issei publisher and community leader Yasutaro Soga. Originally published in 1948 as Tessaku seikatsu, it was translated into English by Kihei Hirai and a team of volunteers at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai'i (JCCH) and published by the University of Hawai'i Press in 2008.

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Living in Color: The Art of Hideo Date (exhibition)

  • Museum Exhibitions
  • Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Art, History
  • Expression through art, Injustice, Immigrant experience
  • Available

Retrospective exhibition featuring the work of Issei painter Hideo Date at the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) that opened in 2001. Curated by Karin Higa, Living in Color draws on works Date donated to JANM as well as works held by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Smithsonian American Art Museum from the 1930s to the 1980s. An established artist by the 1930s, Date was sent to Santa Anita and Heart Mountain during the war, where he taught art and formed an Art Students League at the latter. Best known for his watercolor and gouache painting before the war, he turned to pencil drawings while incarcerated due in part to the difficulty of obtaining painting materials while in camp. The exhibition includes several of these drawings. Unlike artists such as Henry Sugimoto or Estelle Ishigo, Date's wartime drawings do not depict scenes from the concentration camps, most being ...

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Seed: The Life of the Rice King and His Kin (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Circle of life, Immigrant experience, Individual versus society, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice, Wisdom of experience
  • Widely available

Japanese produced documentary film on Issei rice farming pioneer Keisaburo Koda and the family business he founded in Dos Palos, California.

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The Japanese Lover (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Everlasting love, Evils of racism, Circle of life, Family – blessing or curse, Immigrant experience
  • Widely available

Novel by best-selling Chilean American novelist Isabel Allende, the title character of which is a Nisei man whose story of wartime incarceration is woven into the narrative.

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The Experience of Japanese Americans in the United States: A Teacher Resource Manual (curricula)

  • Pre-K, Grades 1-2, Grades 3-5, Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12
  • Displacement, Evils of racism, Immigrant experience, Injustice, Knowledge versus ignorance, Overcoming - fear, weakness, vice, Patriotism - positive side or complications, Rights - individual or societal, War - glory, necessity, pain, tragedy
  • Widely available

The Advisory Council to the Ethnic Heritage Project of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) developed, printed and distributed this manual in 1975. It was one of the first efforts to provide K–12 instructional materials about the history and achievements of Japanese Americans in the United States. The aim of the manual was to counter existing teaching materials which contained information that "portray(ed) persons of Japanese ancestry in a distorted or stereotypic fashion" (page 6). In addition, the authors sought to see Japanese Americans represented in the educational system's instructional framework of cultural pluralism.

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A Grain of Sand (album)

  • Albums
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Contemporary Folk
  • Evils of racism, Immigrant experience, Injustice
  • Widely available

Originally produced and released in 1973 by Paredon Records, A Grain of Sand: Music for the Struggle by Asians in America by folk trio Chris Kando Iijima, Nobuko JoAnne Miyamoto, and William "Charlie" Chin is widely recognized to be the first album of Asian American music. The record is a combination of folk songs, political ballads and protest songs. The music was written, performed and recorded at the height of the Asian American, black, and anti-war movements in the early '70s by New York musicians and activists Iijima, Miyamoto, and Chin, who were then in their twenties and early thirties. The original album includes artwork by Arlan Huang/Artist Resource Basement Workshop on the album jacket and liner notes with a political statement by the musicians, lyrics, and a list of Asian American publications from the era. One of the songs, "We Are the Children," is likely the first song in ...

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Woman from Hiroshima (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Immigrant experience, Motherhood, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice, Wisdom of experience
  • Available

Novel by Toshio Mori written in the first-person voice of an Issei woman telling her life story to two grandchildren shortly after World War II.

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When Military Necessity Overrides Constitutional Guarantees: The Treatment of Japanese Americans During World War II (curricula)

  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12
  • Evils of racism, Immigrant experience, Injustice, Rights - individual or societal, War - glory, necessity, pain, tragedy
  • Widely available

This curriculum guide examines the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans through the lens of its constitutional merit. It should be noted that it was published in 1982, and it contains terminology that in 2017 is considered inappropriate and/or offensive in the use of "Oriental" versus Asian or Asian American. In addition, many of the suggested classroom materials are outmoded (filmstrips) or out of print and may be difficult to access. The guide refers to a "media kit" which may have been available when the guide was first published.

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An Abandoned Pot of Rice (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Displacement, Immigrant experience, Importance of community, Progress – real or illusion
  • No availability

Short essay by Hisaye Yamamoto DeSoto about the Kumamoto-mura community near Oceanside, California, where her family lived just prior to World War II. The pleasant reminiscences of life there are tempered by recollections of the chaos after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the events leading up to the forced removal of Japanese Americans from the West Coast. The title of the story comes from the narrator's recollection of making a pot of rice intending to make rice balls on the day of their forced departure, but forgetting about it, leaving the full pot behind. Years later, she returns to the site of the community, which subsequently became a large military base which for a time housed tens of thousands of Southeast Asian refugees. Noting the similarities with the concentration camps she and her family were in, she observes that this group was the third group of Asians to ...

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An American Christmas (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Family – blessing or curse, Immigrant experience, Motherhood, Working class struggles
  • Available

Short story by Alice Nash centering on an elderly Issei woman in contemporary New York. As she struggles to carry a bag of rice home to her apartment, she reflects on her arrival in New York with her late husband after leaving the concentration camp and the kind Yamaguchi family who put them up while refusing to take money from them. They eventually opened a cleaning shop that helped pay for their only son's college education. A successful businessman in California, the son takes her on a trip every year, but largely keeps her away from her grandchildren due to his white wife's discomfort with her. When she gets back to her apartment, the family of the building's supervisor, the Gonzalez family, invites her to their home to help decorate their Christmas tree.

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Drops of Water (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Capitalism – effect on the individual, Immigrant experience, Individual versus society, Working class struggles
  • Widely available

Short story by Ferris Takahashi. A presumably young Sansei social worker and a colleague discuss the case of an elderly Issei homeless man who seems to want to remain homeless. Sections written from the perspective of the Issei man reveal his life as a laborer first on Hawai'i sugar plantations, then in the continental U.S. and the impact of his wartime incarceration and the razing of the residential hotel he once lived in.

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Harsh Canvas: The Art and Life of Henry Sugimoto (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Expression through art, Immigrant experience, Injustice
  • No availability

A 2001 biographical documentary film on the life and work of Issei artist Henry Sugimoto, based on the artist's memoirs and testimony before the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. The film highlights Sugimoto's art through archival and contemporary footage and follows his life's journey from immigration to his incarceration with his family during World War II in Arkansas, and postwar relocation to New York. Actor Mako narrates the film in the voice of Sugimoto. Interviews with his daughter Madeleine Sugimoto and sister-in-law Naomi Tagawa provide additional information on his life, while fellow artist George Mukai and curators Kristine Kim and Stephanie Barron discuss the significance of his work.

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Hito Hata: Raise the Banner (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Drama
  • Immigrant experience
  • Limited availability

Landmark feature film produced by Visual Communications (VC), a Los Angeles based non-profit in 1980. Centering on the life story of an Issei man, Hito Hata was likely the first dramatic feature film about Asian Americans by Asian Americans since the silent film era.

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Honoring Alameda's Japanese American History (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Importance of community, Immigrant experience, Role of Religion – virtue or hypocrisy
  • Limited availability

Conventional documentary on the history of the Japanese American community in Alameda, California, that is more or less equally divided between the prewar years and wartime incarceration/aftermath. Perhaps due to sponsorship by the Buddhist Temple of Alameda and the Buena Vista United Methodist Church, there is a focus on the history and activities of those two institutions throughout. While the first half is specifically on the Japanese American community in Alameda and is thus somewhat unique, the section on the wartime removal and incarceration is more general and thus repeats information that can be found elsewhere.

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Mary Osaka, I Love You (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Adult
  • Everlasting love, Immigrant experience, Nationalism – complications
  • Widely available

Short story by acclaimed writer John Fante about the love between a Filipino American immigrant man and a Nisei woman that takes place in Los Angeles as World War II breaks out. A part of Fante's intended novel on Filipino Americans, it was first published in Good Housekeeping magazine in October 1942.

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Starting from Loomis and Other Stories (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Evils of racism, Immigrant experience, Power of the past
  • Widely available

Memoir by playwright, poet, actor, and librarian Hiroshi Kashiwagi in the form of twenty-five stories, most of them first-person vignettes from various periods of his life. Edited by Tim Yamamura, Starting from Loomis was published by the University of Colorado Press in 2013 as part of the George and Sakaye Aratani Nikkei in the Americas Series.

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Dear Miye: Letters Home from Japan, 1939-1946 (book)

  • Books
  • Memoir, Historical nonfiction
  • Coming of age, Companionship as salvation, Desire to escape, Displacement, Family - blessing or curse, Female roles, Identity crisis, Immigrant experience, Isolation, Loss of innocence, Overcoming - fear, weakness, vice, Self-preservation, War - glory, necessity, pain, tragedy, Will to survive
  • Available

A collection of letters written by a young Nisei woman in Japan who becomes stuck there during World War II to her best friend who is still in California.

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The Crystal City Story: One Family's Experience with the World War II Japanese Internment Camps (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Coming of age, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Immigrant experience, Reunion
  • Available

Self-published memoir by Tomo Izumi about her family's internment in the Crystal City, Texas, internment camp and her life before and after the war in a small plantation town on the Big Island of Hawai'i.

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Family Torn Apart: The Internment Story of the Otokichi Muin Ozaki Family (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Communication – verbal and nonverbal, Facing darkness, Immigrant experience, Injustice, Power of words
  • Widely available

Family Torn Apart is the story of the wartime experiences of Otokichi Muin Ozaki, an Issei who was a Japanese language school teacher, tanka poet, and a leader within the Japanese community in Hilo, Hawai'i. While most incarceration accounts focus on the mainland experience of the English-speaking Nisei who comprised nearly two-thirds of the incarcerated population, Ozaki's story provides insight into the incarceration experience of Hawai'i island Japanese, many of whom authorities detained at mainland incarceration sites. While this book includes radio scripts of Ozaki's incarceration experience and his own accounts of camp news, it is also comprised of letters that family and friends wrote responding to his correspondence. The variety and frequency of these letters and other sources provide intimate details of Ozaki's incarceration that lasted nearly four years. This story highlights the uniqueness of the Hawai'i experience from the perspective of an Issei observer and the impact of ...

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Gasa Gasa Girl Goes to Camp (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir, Art
  • Coming of age, Expression through art, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Immigrant experience, Oppression of women
  • Widely available

Concentration camp memoir by a Nisei artist. Ten years old at the time of the wartime incarceration, Lily Yuriko Nakai Havey was sent to Santa Anita Assembly Center and Amache with her older brother and Issei parents. Evolving from captions that accompanied displays of the author's postwar paintings, Gasa Gasa Girl intersperses stories of life in the camps with recollections of happier days with her parents, brother, and aunts in Hollywood, California, before the war. The book is illustrated by twenty-eight color reproductions of her watercolor paintings that depict both her external and internal lives during the war, as well as a like number of family photographs, archival photographs, and photographs of key objects mentioned in the text. Published by the University of Utah Press, the book includes an foreword by historian Cherstin Lyon.

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The Invisible Thread (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 3-5, Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12
  • Grades 3-5, Grades 7-8
  • Memoir, Children's
  • Immigrant experience, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Expression through art, Facing darkness, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice
  • Widely available

Memoir for young adult readers by the acclaimed children's book author that covers her charmed childhood in Berkeley, California, and her wartime incarceration during World War II.

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