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Browse > Place > Los Angeles, California

50 articles

Little Tokyo U.S.A. (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Thrillers
  • Evils of racism, Fear of other
  • Limited availability

Notorious 1942 Hollywood movie that depicts Japanese American leaders in Los Angeles as being part of a Japanese spy ring and that actively advocates the expulsion and incarceration of Japanese Americans using actual documentary footage.

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Ganbatte: Sixty-year Struggle of a Kibei Worker (book)

  • Books
  • Memoir
  • Capitalism - effect on the individual, Convention and rebellion, Empowerment, Important of community, Injustice, Rights - individual and societal, Self-awareness, Working class struggles
  • Available

Kibei - Nisei labor organizer and communist shares his life story, including his unique experiences during World War II as the husband of a white woman with a mixed-race child incarcerated while he served with the Military Intelligence Service in the Pacific Theater.

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Memories of the Camps (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Circle of life, Power of the past, Injustice
  • Limited availability

Locally produced documentary by Los Angeles TV station KABC that provides an overview of the concentration camps and community efforts to remember them on their fiftieth anniversary. Hosted by KABC news anchor Joanne Ishimine, the program begins at Heart Mountain where former inmate and camp historian Bacon Sakatani gives a tour of the camp and talks about his experience and the larger impact of incarceration. The next segment is on Manzanar , focusing on Toyo Miyatake and his photographs, featuring an interview with his son Archie. The last segments focus on the commemoration of the camps: a visit to a UCLA class that Sakatani speaks to and interviews with the students; some of those same students at the 50th anniversary Manzanar Pilgrimage ; and visits to the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center and Japanese American National Museum in the Little Tokyo area of Los Angeles. A copy of the …

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Alice and the Bear (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Companionship as salvation, Desire to escape, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Power of the past
  • Widely available

Short story by Kiyoshi Parker about an old woman whose trip to a Little Tokyo store with her great-granddaughter brings back memories of her camp experience. Alice Miyamoto visits Little Tokyo in Los Angeles for the first time in thirty years with her family. After lunch, her daughter suggests they go visit the Go For Broke Monument . But on the way, her four-year-old great-granddaughter drags her into a store and picks up a stuffed Totoro toy. Alice is immediately reminded of a stuffed bear she had as a child of about the same age that was her constant companion when she was in an unspecified concentration camp.

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To Be Takei (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Empowerment, Everlasting love, Injustice, Optimism – power or folly, Rights - individual or societal
  • Widely available

Documentary film that profiles actor George Takei and his husband and manager Brad Takei, capturing both their pasts and their daily lives today.

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The Legacy of a Cemetery (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Reunion, Wisdom of experience
  • Limited availability

First person reflections on a trip back to his hometown of Los Angeles by a man who had settled in New Jersey after leaving the Jerome , Arkansas, concentration camps some thirty years earlier. A visit to Evergreen Cemetery east of downtown Los Angeles brings back memories of his forced removal in 1942, remembrances of Nisei soldiers he knew who are buried there, and memories of his deceased family members.

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Little Women (A Multicultural Transposition) (play)

  • Plays
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Coming of age, Desire to escape, Family – blessing or curse, Female roles, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice
  • No availability

Play by Velina Hasu Houston that reimagines Louis May Alcott's 19th century novel Little Women , setting it in early postwar Los Angeles with four Japanese American sisters at its center.

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Stone, Bow, Prayer (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Poetry
  • Available

Sansei poet Amy Uyematsu's fourth book of poetry, organized in twelve sections, each representing a month in the ancient Chinese lunar calendar that Japan adopted in the seventh century A.D.

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When Your Body Has Been Rolled in Thorns (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Evils of racism, Facing reality, Loss of innocence, Will to survive
  • Widely available

Short story by Ferris Takahashi about a Japanese American family leaving a concentration camp to return to their old home in Los Angeles. Told from the perspective of a college educated Nisei husband and father of two young children, the story begins as they gather up their possessions and prepare to leave the camp. Yosh, a friend who had returned earlier and was able to reestablish his business, greets them at the train station. When they return to their home, they find it trashed and vandalized, with all the furniture gone. They also learn that the Buddhist temple in which they had stored other possessions had burned down. Yosh and his family offer to put them up until they can fix their house. Returning to look more closely at the house after dinner, the man and his Issei mother find racist graffiti. His mother assures him that they will rebound.

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Burma Rifles: A Story of Merrill's Marauders (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12
  • Historical Fiction, Children's
  • Heroism – real and perceived, Injustice, Vulnerability of the strong, War – glory, necessity, pain, tragedy
  • Limited availability

Book for young readers by Frank Bonham centering on a Nisei intelligence soldier in Burma during World War II. Published in 1960, it is among the first children's books to depict the wartime incarceration of Japanese Americans.

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Blood Hina (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Adult
  • Fiction, Mystery
  • Family – blessing or curse, Hazards of passing judgment, Heroism – real and perceived, Love and sacrifice
  • Widely available

The fourth book in the Mas Arai Mysteries series by Naomi Hirahara finds the Kibei gardener coming to the aid of his best friend, Haruo Mukai, whose impending wedding is interrupted by accusations of theft and by his sudden disappearance.

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Crossroads: Boyle Heights (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Importance of community, Immigrant experience, Working class struggles, Growing up – pain or pleasure
  • Widely available

A documentary film compiled from life histories of past and present residents of Boyle Heights, a working-class neighborhood east of downtown Los Angeles. From the 1920s-1950s, Boyle Heights was a racially and ethnically diverse home to immigrants from Mexico, Japan, England, Germany, Russia and Armenia as well as people from the east, the south and the southwest portions of the United States who lived, worked and worshiped in the area. The film also explores how the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans and their postwar return affected businesses and friendships. While many Japanese Americans faced hostility in other parts of Los Angeles, residents of Boyle Heights share stories of a deeper empathy with the plight of those incarcerated. Crossroads: Boyle Heights was originally produced to accompany the exhibition Boyle Heights: The Power of Place (2002) at the Japanese American National Museum .

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Reluctant Samurai: Memoirs of an Urban Planner (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Family – blessing or curse, Fulfillment, Importance of community, Progress – real or illusion
  • Limited availability

Memoir by a Nisei man that recounts his agricultural upbringing, his time in American concentration camps, and his postwar career as an urban planner who was a key figure in the redevelopment of downtown Los Angeles.

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American Dreams (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 3-5
  • Grades 3-5
  • Historical Fiction, Children's
  • Evils of racism, Coming of age, Injustice, Growing up – pain or pleasure
  • Available

Chapter book for children about two eleven-year-old girls in Hollywood, one white and one Japanese American, in the weeks just before and just after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

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Gardens of Hope (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Companionship as salvation, Everlasting love, Evils of racism, Loss of innocence, Self-awareness
  • Widely available

Novel about the short but life changing romance between a young white man and a Nisei man during World War II. The story begins in 2004, as the elderly Jack Henry asks his nephew to drive him to the Manzanar National Historic Site. On the way, he tells the nephew the story of his connection to the place. As the story begins in Los Angeles the fall of 1942, Jack seems to have everything: a loving family, a smart and attractive fiancée, and good prospects for a career as a teacher. However as a closeted gay man, he is confused and unhappy. Drawn to Pershing Park downtown, he has a series of furtive sexual encounters with other men before meeting Hiro, a handsome young Nisei. Their affair is immediately different and deeper than the others. When the outbreak of war separates them, Jack impulsively decides to become a teacher at …

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Masao and the Bronze Nightingale (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Expression through art, Lost love, Working class struggles
  • Widely available

Short story by Rubén "Funkahuatl" Guevara about a Nisei zoot suiter and saxophone player in East Los Angeles before and after World War II. Masao Matsui and his buddies Lil' Joe Casillas and Isamu Imoto grow up in Boyle Heights playing jazz and dressing in elaborate zoot suits prior to the war. Masao dreams of leading a band one day. His dreams are interrupted by World War II and his forced incarceration at Manzanar. He passes time playing jazz records and plays in the Jive Bombers in camp. After the war, he returns to Little Tokyo and works as a janitor, while soaking up the local jazz scene that sprang up there as part of "Bronzeville," the African American settlement that formed during the war. Then, one night at a club, he meets a dazzling singer who called herself the Bronze Nightingale, and his life is turned upside down.

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On the Go: Little Tokyo (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Drama
  • Power of the past
  • Widely available

Segment of Jack Linkletter's On the Go television show set in Little Tokyo that focuses on the wartime incarceration and its aftermath. Linkletter interviews three Japanese Americans on the sidewalks of Little Tokyo: Eiji Tanabe (referred to only as "Mr. Tanabe"), a Nisei businessman who had been active in the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) before and after the war; Mr. Shimizu, the Issei owner of Asahi Shoe Store; and John Aiso , then a municipal court judge. In Tanabe's segment, the longest, he describes his work for the JACL (which is not referred to by name), the loss of his hotel businesses—for which he received token compensation through the Evacuation Claims Act —and his " voluntary evacuation " to his hometown of Spokane, before returning to Los Angeles and starting a travel business. Shimizu describes in halting English his arrest on the night of December 7 and subsequent internment …

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Both Alike in Dignity (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Evils of racism, Reunion, War – glory, necessity, pain, tragedy, Wisdom of experience
  • Widely available

Short story by Chester Sakamoto about an elderly Holocaust survivor who mistakenly gets off the bus in Little Tokyo , where he meets an elderly Nisei man. One Sunday, on his weekly visit to a friend in Pasadena, Mr. Muncznik gets off the bus too early and ends up in Little Tokyo. Sitting to get his bearings, he finds himself next to a statue of a Japanese man. Friendly Mr. Sata stops and explains that it is a statue of Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat who risked his career and safety to help thousands of Jews escape Lithuania during the war. Conversation ensues about each man's wartime experience—Mr. Sata had lived in Little Tokyo before the war and had been sent with his family to Heart Mountain —revealing a startling coincidence.

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Doka B-100 (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Character – destruction, building up, Family – blessing or curse, Importance of community, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice, Working class struggles
  • Widely available

Short story by Ernest Nagamatsu on the difficult adjustment to civilian life of a group of World War II veterans. Written in the first person voice of an ex-GI named Hamamoto in 1954, "Doka B-100" coveys both Hamamoto's alienation and the welcoming embrace of Little Tokyo Los Angeles . Estranged from his domineering father because of the way he left the service (despite serving heroically in the 442nd , he quit before his time was up) and his choice of social work as an occupation, Hamamoto's wife had decided to go back to her family in Chicago with their daughter to get away from the arguments. Finding a small apartment in Little Tokyo and a part time job in a diner, he finds a niche in starting to counsel the veterans who would gather in a Little Tokyo pool hall. That work eventually leads to a paying job with the …

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A Crossroad Called Manzanar (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Short, History
  • Growing up - pain or pleasure, Loss of innocence
  • No availability

Short dramatic film about two nine-year-old girls who are best friends—Aya Matsui and Penny Chan—in the final days before Aya's family will be forced to board busses for Manzanar . On what will be her final day of school, Penny—wearing the "Proud to Be Chinese" button than her mother pins on her every morning—comes to pick up Aya as usual. But after being harassed by white children on their way to school, they decide to spend the day playing in the fields and parks before heading home. Aya's family eats on the floor, the rest of their things packed or sold off. The next morning, the Matsuis report for their exile and are put on busses for Manzanar. Penny comes by their house, finding it empty and, shunned by the other kids, rides alone on the school bus to school.

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Silver Like Dust (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Evils of racism, Family – blessing or curse, Power of the past, Role of women
  • Widely available

Memoir published in 2011 centering on the author's grandmother, who slowly tells the author the story of her life and incarceration at Heart Mountain , over the course of several visits with the author. Her grandmother's detailed narrative from the perspective of a young woman of twenty when the war breaks out—the happy childhood in Los Angeles, the shock of war and forced removal, meeting her husband at the Pomona Assembly Center , marrying in camp, and having her first child there, before resettling in Seabrook Farms , New Jersey—is contrasted with the author's vastly different life as a contemporary young woman of roughly the same age when she begins the project. Having grown up in Pennsylvania, apart from her grandmother in Florida, the visits also allow the two women to really get to know each other for the first time. The book includes various brief historical snippets that provide …

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Comforting the Afflicted (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Importance of community, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice, Role of Religion – virtue or hypocrisy
  • No availability

Moderated panel discussion led by Phil Shigekuni with four prominent Japanese American Protestant ministers with ties to Los Angeles who were incarcerated during World War II. Three—Rev. Paul Nagano , Rev. John Miyabe, and Bishop Roy Sano—were at the Poston , Arizona, concentration camp, while Rev. Sam Tonomura was a boy in British Columbia caught up in the forced removal of Japanese Canadians during the war. The discussion covers the men's experiences during the war and the role of the church during the incarceration, particularly with regard to issues of "loyalty" and resistance. The men talk about the role of the church in the Redress Movement , in bridging divides in the Japanese American community today, and in the anti-Muslim/Arab climate following the 9/11 attacks. The format of the film largely follows that of a "talking heads" type television program, with the insertion of still historical photographs.

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From a Different Shore: An American Identity (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Change versus tradition, Importance of community, Power of the past, Reunion
  • Limited availability

Documentary film produced by Great Britain's The Open University that examines the Japanese American community by focusing on three families in Los Angeles.

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My Life with a Thousand Characters (book)

  • Books
  • Memoir
  • Coming of age, Expression through art, Overcoming - fear, weakness, vice
  • Available

The creator of numerous Hanna-Barbera characters including those from Scooby Doo tells his life story, including his childhood as a Nisei in Los Angeles and his experience incarcerated at Manzanar concentration camp.

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Maybe (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Capitalism – effect on the individual, Necessity of work, Will to survive, Working class struggles
  • Widely available

Short story by Wakako Yamauchi about a middle-aged Japanese American woman working in a sweatshop with a group of undocumented immigrant workers from Latin America. Divorced after twenty-five years of marriage, Florence wanders into a garment factory with a help wanted sign and is hired on the spot and given a relatively responsible position despite her lack of qualifications due to what she thinks is the owners' stereotype about "Japanese." In her first person voice, she introduces various workers as well as the owner's much younger Colombian immigrant wife who takes an immediate disliking to her. She befriends a young couple who were forced to leave their young son back in Mexico and are unable to bring him to the U.S.; the husband semi-jokingly asks Florence to marry him so that he can get a green card. At the end of the story she recalls her and her family's confinement …

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