Nichi Bei Weekly

The Nichi Bei Weekly, published by the Nichi Bei Foundation, rose out of the ashes of the historic legacy of the Nichi Bei Shimbun (1899-1942) and Nichi Bei Times (1946-2009) as the first nonprofit ethnic community newspaper of its kind in the country. It has been published in San Francisco’s Japantown since September of 2009.

Updated April 2018

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A Young Nisei’s Life, Reimagined

I knew of Gene Oishi, the Nisei author of Fox Drum Bebop, well before I actually met him. This was because in 1968 he became implicated in a national (even international) cause célèbre for his victimization in a high-profile racist episode. Then a Baltimore Sun reporter, Oishi was slumbering in his seat on a political campaign plane flying from Las Vegas to Los Angeles when a fellow passenger, Republican vice presidential candidate Spiro Agnew, gestured toward him and inquired, “What’s the matter with the fat Jap?”

Charged with insensitivity, Agnew responded that he had long known Oishi ...

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The Fruits of Santa Clara Valley’s Asian Laborers

As Cecilia Tsu tells readers in her cogent introduction, its underlying purpose is “recovering the intertwined history of the Santa Clara Valley (in California) when it was known as the Garden of the World (1880-1940) along with the history of the Asian immigrants (Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino) who farmed its famed crops,” primarily orchard fruits and berries (p. 13). Clearly, and thankfully, Tsu’s scholarship for her first book did not materialize within a socio-cultural vacuum; rather, it was deeply rooted in and nurtured by her personal, family, and community experience.

When in the 1980s Tsu and her Asian American ...

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An Intimate Look at the Life of ‘An American with a Japanese Face’

It is rare that I find myself reviewing a book on a friend of mine authored by still another friend, but that is the case with Matt Briones’ Charles Kikuchi-centered cultural history Jim and Jap Crow. My friendship with Kikuchi revolved around two events: our participation on a controversial panel at a September 1987 conference held at the University of California, Berkeley, to reassess the World War II work of the (Japanese American) Evacuation and Resettlement Study; and the oral history interview I transacted with Kikuchi in Rhode Island at his family’s Block Island vacation home in August 1988 ...

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Nisei Revisits Her Wartime Past Through Watercolors

Through a sophisticated blend of artwork, prose, and photographic images, plus an assortment of other useful illustrative materials, Lily Yuriko Nakai Havey has crafted in Gasa Gasa Girl Goes to Camp what is assuredly among the very most exquisite, insightful, and candid memoirs of the World War II Japanese American experience.

I vigorously applaud the University of Utah Press’ marketing of this volume—which hinges on Havey’s pre- and early-adolescence incarceration at the Santa Anita Assembly Center in Southern California and the Granada (Amache) Relocation Center in southeastern Colorado—as a “creative memoir.” While all memoirs (a literary genre ...

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Nikkei History Meets Multi-generational Family Memoir

Although its publisher markets Looking after Minidoka as a “memoir,” this volume can lay equal claim to being a “history.” It is, in fact, the superlative fusion of these two genres that accounts for the most fundamental value and utility of this richly documented, exquisitely composed, and diversely illustrated work. Rather than a personal memoir, Neil Nakadate (an emeritus professor of English at Iowa State University) has fashioned a family memoir that conveys to readers the historical experience of his immigrant Issei grandparents, his U.S.-born Nisei parents, and his own Sansei generation of American citizens. Moreover, he has ...

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