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Return to the Valley: Japanese American Experience After WWII (film)

Documentary film that tells the story of Japanese Americans returning to the Santa Clara, Salinas and Pajaro Valleys and the Central Coast after World War II. Produced by KTEH, a San Jose public television station, Return to the Valley was the first episode of an anthology series titled Voices of the Valley and debuted in 2003. It received a region Emmy Award in 2004 for "Outstanding Community Program."

"Return to the Valley" tells its story in segments titled "Arrival," "Return," "Rebuilding," and "Remembrance." It begins with narrator Ken Kashiwahara at a contemporary Japanese American youth basketball league game before providing a brief overview of Japanese migration and settlement in the valley and the trauma of World War II expulsion and incarceration. The bulk of the story focuses on the decade after Japanese Americans were allowed to return to the West Coast beginning in 1945 and is told mostly through the recollections of Nisei interviewees, period still photographs, and the home movie footage of David Tatsuno (who is one of the Nisei interviewed). The narrative covers the vandalism, nightrider attacks , and discrimination that first greeted many of the returnees; the changing fortunes of women and Issei; non-Japanese Americans who helped Japanese Americans in the resettlement years; the gradual shift away from farming and fishing, which had been the mainstays of the prewar economy, and the rise of small businesses and gardening; and the continuing vitality of Japanese American culture and remembrances of the wartime period.

A website for the film was also produced in 2007–08. A teacher's guide for the documentary is available on the website and includes essays by Wendy Ng, Stephen Fugita, Tom Izu, Larry Oda, Tim Thomas, Alexander Yamato, and Mike Honda .

The project was funded by grants from the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program , the Community Foundation of Silicon Valley, and the Henri and Tomoye Takahashi Charitable Foundation.

Authored by Brian Niiya

Might also like Forced Out: Internment and the Enduring Damage to California Cities and Towns (2003); Resettlement to Redress: Rebirth of the Japanese-American Community (2005); Dave Tatsuno: Movies and Memories (2006)

Media Details
Release Date 2003
Runtime 57 minutes
Director Scott Gracheff
Producer Christina Lim
Writer Wendy Ng
Narrator Ken Kashiwahara
Starring Dave Tatsuno (interviewee), Philip Kobashi (interviewee), Suenyo Inada (interviewee), John Hayakawa (interviewee), Mae Tokiwa (interviewee), Duke Tokiwa (interviewee), Mits Koshiyama (interviewee), Kay Izumizaki (interviewee), Lawson Sakai (interviewee), Mineko Sakai (interviewee), Alex Yamato (interviewee), Peter Nakahara (interviewee), Gordon Miyamoto (interviewee), Jimi Yamaichi (interviewee), Eiichi Edward Sakauye (interviewee), Mickey Kubo (interviewee), Yas Shimoguchi (interviewee), Isao Kobashi (interviewee), Eiko Yamaichi (interviewee), Helen Nitta Mito (interviewee), Michiko Itatani (interviewee), Mary Yoshikawa (interviewee), Suenyo Inada (interviewee), Fusako Honda (interviewee), Mike Honda (interviewee), Tom Mine (interviewee), Hiroko Nishiguchi (interviewee), Larry Oda (interviewee), Richard Kobashi (interviewee), Gary Tanimura (interviewee), Chizu Kubo (interviewee), Shig Kizuka (interviewee), Gerald Sakamoto (interviewee)
Music Mark Izu
Cinematography Chris Million
Editing Steven Kern
Studio KTEH Public Television
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