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Browse > Theme > Power of the past

129 articles

Forced Out: Internment and the Enduring Damage to California Cities and Towns (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Injustice, Importance of community, Power of the past
  • Limited availability

A 2003 documentary film that explores the subject of the Japanese American forced removal and mass incarceration during World War II and its economic impact on California's Japantowns through the stories of merchants and community institutions. Among the stories highlighted are Honnami Taedo, a ceramics shop in San Francisco Japantown; the Rafu Shimpo newspaper, Fugetsudo sweet shop, and the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles' Little Tokyo; a San Francisco-based quilt project by Japanese American women that documents the wartime events; and the Asahi Market in Oxnard, which was run for the Japanese American proprietors by a Mexican American family during the war.

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Conscience and the Constitution (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Convention and rebellion, Illusion of power, Injustice, Power of the past, Rights - individual or societal
  • Widely available

Influential documentary film that tells the story of the draft resistance movement at Heart Mountain . Journalist Frank Abe produced, directed, and wrote the hour-long film, which was released in 2000.

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When National Security Trumps Individual Rights (curricula)

  • Curricula
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12
  • Individual versus society, Injustice, Patriotism - positive side or complications, Power of the past, Rights - individual or societal, War - glory, necessity, pain tragedy
  • Widely available

This lesson prompts students to think about the balance of civil liberties and national security during times of national crisis by considering the Supreme Court case of Korematsu v. United States (1944). Fred Toyosaburo Korematsu fought against the mass removal of Japanese Americans during World War II by refusing to report to the Tanforan Assembly Center in 1942. He challenged his felony conviction on constitutional grounds, and the case was appealed to the Supreme Court where he lost in a 6-3 decision. In 1983, this conviction was vacated after information surfaced proving that the government had originally withheld critical evidence.

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After the Bloom (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Family – blessing or curse, Power of silence, Power of the past, Role of women
  • Widely available

Novel by Japanese Canadian author Leslie Shimotakahara about the sudden disappearance of a Nisei woman in Toronto and her Sansei daughter's search for her and her own past.

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Starting Over: Japanese Americans After the War (film)

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

Documentary film centering on the return of Japanese Americans to their homes after their exclusion and incarceration in concentration camps.

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An American Contradiction (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Evils of racism, Injustice, Power of the past, Power of words
  • Widely available

Filmmaker Vanessa Yuille goes to visit the Heart Mountain site, where her mother was born, to learn more about its history. Through interviews with former inmates—particularly Bacon Sakatani—and local residents and experts, she provides an overview of the mass removal and incarceration and of life at Heart Mountain. We also see LaDonna Zall, acting curator at the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center , lead tour of the site as it is today. The film concludes with Sakatani leading what looks like a local community meeting in a discussion about whether the camp should be called a "concentration camp."

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Diamonds in the Rough (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Power of the past, Role of men
  • Widely available

Documentary film on Japanese American baseball that focuses on Kenichi Zenimura (1900–68), a pioneering Issei baseball player and coach in Hawai'i and in Fresno, California. The film includes four main sections. The first looks at Zenimura's prewar baseball exploits, and by extension, Japanese American baseball in general, featuring interviews with those who played with or against him. The next focuses on the World War II incarceration that saw Zenimura and his family sent to the Gila River, Arizona, concentration camp, where he famously built a baseball field. Next, the film looks at the postwar phenomenon of Nisei players going to Japan and becoming stars in the Japanese major leagues, focusing on the most prominent such player, Wally Yonamine. The final segment sees Zenimura's son Howard returning to the site of the Gila River camp and visiting the location of the former barracks and of the baseball field. Actor Noriyuki "Pat" …

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Remembering Manzanar (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Injustice, Power of the past
  • Limited availability

Introductory video at the Manzanar National Historic Site's Visitor Center. Commissioned by the National Park Service and produced by Signature Communications of Huntingtown, Maryland, in 2004, Remembering Manzanar provides a broad overview of the Japanese American wartime forced removal and incarceration based on interviews with a dozen former inmates, along with residents of the area around Manzanar and a teacher at Manzanar. None of the narrators are identified as they talk and none are pictured onscreen. Visuals consists entirely of archival still and moving images, including clips from newsreels and War Relocation Authority films along with home movies shot by inmates; period cartoons and caricatures; period artifacts; and contemporary footage of the Manzanar site. The 22-minute video is shown every half-hour at the Manzanar Visitor Center. No director, editor, or cinematographer is credited.

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Whispered Silences: Japanese American Detention Camps, Fifty Years Later (exhibition)

  • Museum Exhibitions
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Art, History
  • Displacement, Power of the past
  • Available

Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) exhibition that featured photographs of former Japanese American concentration camp sites shot during the 1980s by artist Joan Myers. Debuting in 1995, the exhibition traveled around the country for the next four years. It was accompanied by a book published by the University of Washington Press titled Whispered Silences: Japanese Americans and World War II , which includes her photographs along with Gary Okihiro's historical/autobiographical overview of Japanese American history.

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Japanese American Detention Camps: Stories of Strength and Hope (play)

  • Plays
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Quest for discovery, Power of the past, Evils of racism, Will to survive
  • Limited availability

Storytelling performance by Megumi in which she tells stories of the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans from the perspective of various characters. Based on interviews with Japanese American former inmates, she has been performing Japanese American Detention Camps since 1997.

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Voices from the Camps: Internment of Japanese Americans during World War II (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12
  • Grades 7-8
  • Young Adult, History
  • Displacement, Evils of racism, Hazards of passing judgment, Injustice, Power of the past
  • Available

Brief overview book for juvenile audiences on the wartime removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans by prolific children's book author Larry Dane Brimner. The "voices" of the title are taken from testimony by Japanese Americans before the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC).

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Day of Remembrance: The First National Ceremony (film)

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

Documentary film of the first national Day of Remembrance commemoration, held at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. in 1998. The national ceremony was hosted by George Takei and Tamlyn Tomita and included guest speakers Gordon Hirabayashi , Fred Korematsu , Norman Mineta , Joan Bernstein , Mitsuye Yamada , Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga , and Robert Matsui .

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Snow Falling on Cedars (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Drama
  • Fear of other, Lost love, Power of the past
  • Widely available

Film based on the popular novel by David Guterson set in a small island village in Washington state about a young white newspaper publisher covering the postwar murder trial of a Japanese American fisherman. Flashback scenes depict the forced removal of Japanese Americans and their wartime incarceration. Directed by Scott Hicks from a screenplay by Hicks and Ronald Bass, Snow Falling on Cedars garnered an academy award nomination for its cinematographer, Robert Richardson.

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Strands (play)

  • Plays
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Evils of racism, Power of the past
  • No availability

One-woman show written and performed by D.H. Naomi Quinones that centers on her Japanese Peruvian grandfather's World War II internment story and her discovery of it. Kiichiro Yoshida was a Japanese Peruvian journalist who was one of over 2,000 Japanese Latin Americans interned in the United States during World War II. Separated from his family, he was not allowed to return to Peru at the end of the war and was instead deported to Japan. Quinones tells the story through video, spoken word poetry, and martial arts. Strands was commissioned by the Asian American Theater Company in association with the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center and was funded in part by a grant from the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program . The sixty-minute performance premiered at he SomARTS Cultural Center in San Francisco on May 16, 2002.

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Farewell to Manzanar Educational Kit (curricula)

  • Curricula
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12
  • Memoir, Drama, History
  • Coming of age, Displacement, Evils of racism, Family - blessing or curse, Growing up - pain or pleasure, Injustice, Patriotism - positive side or complications, Power of the past
  • Limited availability

In 2003, the Farewell to Manzanar Education Initiative distributed 10,000 copies of the Farewell to Manzanar Educational Kit to California public schools and public libraries. The kit consists of the book, Farewell to Manzanar and Related Readings (1998), a teaching guide for the book (1998), a VHS cassette of the Farewell to Manzanar made-for-television movie (1976) with an additional 35-minute classroom version, and a video study guide (2002). Separate elements of the kit are available for purchase (except for the video study guide).

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Pilgrimage (film)

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

Documentary film that traces the origins of the first Manzanar pilgrimage in 1969 and links it to the 2005 pilgrimage and to efforts to uphold the rights of Arab and Muslim Americans after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. The film includes interviews with many of the organizers of the 1969 pilgrimage and archival footage and photographs of that event and of related events from that time. Directed and edited by Tadashi Nakamura, the film was a production of the Center for EthnoCommunications of the UCLA Asian American Studies Center in 2008. The film is dedicated to the memory of Sue Kunitomi Embrey , who passed away in 2006. It was funded in part by grants from the California Civil Liberties Public Education Fund, the UCLA in LA Center for Community Partnerships, the California Wellness Foundation, and the Center for Asian American Media.

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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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One-Two-One-Seven (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Family – blessing or curse, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Power of the past
  • Widely available

Documentary film by Brett Kodama about the experiences of his grandmother, Sharon Shizuko Okazaki Kodama, at Manzanar . Just three years old when she and her family were forcibly removed from their Southern California home and sent to Manzanar, Okazaki Kodama's Issei father killed her Kibei mother in September 1942. She and her older sister spent the rest of the war at the Manzanar Children's Village , the camp orphanage. They were raised after the war by an aunt and uncle in Washington state. Okazaki Kodama recalls her memories of the camp and the orphanage, talks about her parents' deaths and reflects on the impact on the incarceration over visuals that include archival photographs and footage, photographs from her own family album, and images of the Manzanar National Historic Site today. The title refers to the Okazaki's family number at Manzanar.

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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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My Mother's Music (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Power of the past, Power of silence, Role of women
  • Limited availability

Short story by Lydia Yuri Minatoya told from the perspective of a Sansei woman recalling her Kibei mother's various stories—and silences—about the family history. The narrator's mother recalls her Issei mother's banishment from the family after she had an affair with a Filipino immigrant patron of the family-run pool hall and how she never saw her mother again. The mother also recalls her own arranged marriage while in Heart Mountain , but can recall little—or is unwilling to talk about—details of her and her family's wartime incarceration. My Mother's Music appeared in the fifth volume of the Fusion series published by the Asian American Studies Department at San Francisco State University. Minatoya later published a memoir titled Talking to High Monks in the Snow: An Asian-American Odyssey (1989)—which includes "My Mother's Music" as its first chapter—as well as a novel, The Strangeness of Beauty (2001).

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Sushi (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Loss of innocence, Power of the past, Coming of age
  • Limited availability

Short story by Rei Noguchi about a young Japanese American girl who learns about the wartime incarceration from an Issei woman neighbor. It is a cold New Year's Eve in Dover, New Jersey, and Maya Okano has been dispatched by her parents to return a plate to a woman they call Grandmother Okamoto. The older woman, who is making sushi for New Year's, is happy to see the girl and serves her tea. Maya tells Grandmother Okamoto that she doesn't like sushi or Japanese food in general, preferring "American" food. Grandmother Okamoto sends Maya into the bedroom to fetch a can of nori from the dresser; when she does, she sees a little shrine on the dresser and the photograph of a young man in military uniform in front of barracks. When Maya asks, Grandmother Okamoto tells her about her son, who was killed fighting (presumably in the 442nd Regimental …

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Chikara!: A Sweeping Novel of Japan and America From 1907 to 1983 (book)

  • Books
  • Historical Fiction
  • Change versus tradition, Coming of age, Death - inevitable or tragedy, Disillusionment and dreams, Displacement, Emptiness of attaining a false dream, Evils of racism, Facing reality, Family - blessing or curse, Forgiveness, Greed as downfall, Fate and free will, Heartbreak of betrayal, Heroism - real and perceived, Immigrant experience, Individual versus society, Inner versus outer strength, Lost honor, Lost love, Nationalism - complications, Patriotism - positive side or complications, Power of the past, Will to survive
  • Available

This work of historical fiction traces the tumultuous rise and fall of the Hoshi family, whose scion, Sataro, takes his wife Itoko and eldest son Noboru to California in 1907 to seek his fortune and restore his family's honor. He leaves his second son Hiroshi behind with family, a decision that marks the inauspicious first step of the tragic transpacific drama that unfolds over the course of the novel.

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Here, in America? (film)

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

Short documentary film that presents highlights from the Assembly on Wartime Relocation & Internment of Civilians, held in San Francisco in April 2005. The event included the public testimony of persons of Japanese, German, and Italian ancestry about the World War II era internment/incarceration and persons of Arab, Muslim or South Asian descent about post-9/11 detentions. In addition to excepts of the testimonies, the film includes historical background on the World War II detentions along with historical photographs and footage. Testimonies highlighted include Buddy Fujii (statement read by Bill Sato); Victor Kimura; Libia Yamamoto; Art Shibayama; Angelica Higashide (statement read by Naomi Quinones); Doris Berg Nye (statement read by Carole Eiserloh); Ted Eckardt (statement read by Bruce Donald); Constanza Ilacqua Foran; Al Bronzini; John Christgau; Lawrence DiStasi; Yaman Hamdan; and Xavier Becerra.

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The Untold Story: Internment of Japanese Americans in Hawai'i (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary, History
  • Power of the past, Injustice, Quest for discovery, Immigrant experience
  • Widely available

Documentary film produced by the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai'i (JCCH) in 2012 that provides an overview on the internment of Japanese Americans in Hawai'i during World War II—both those held in camps in the continental U.S. and those held in Hawai'i camps—as well as contemporary efforts to preserve the Hawai'i sites today.

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When You're Smiling: The Deadly Legacy of Internment (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Family – blessing or curse, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Identity crisis, Power of the past
  • Available

Autobiographical film by Janice D. Tanaka about growing up Sansei in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s amidst parental silence about their wartime incarceration. It was one of several films about aspects of the incarceration funded by the Civil Liberties Public Education Fund .

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