Patricia Wakida

Patricia Wakida is a writer, linoleum block artist, and bibliophile. She has worked as a literary and community historian in California for over a decade, collaborating with diverse local communities across the state. She is the editor of two publications on the Japanese American experience, Only What We Could Carry: The Japanese American Internment Experience, and Unfinished Message: Selected Works of Toshio Mori, and served as project coordinator for dozens of other publications on California history. Previously, she collaborated with the Museum through the publication of catalogues for art exhibitions about Hisako Hibi, Henry Sugimoto, and Hideo Date while serving as the Director of Special Projects at Heyday Books.

Most recently, she served as Associate Curator of History at the Japanese American National Museum, worked as a graphics and cartography researcher with the Oakland Museum, and as a lead writer for the National Japanese American Historical Society on an exhibition dedicated to the history of the Military Intelligence Service.

She is a yonsei, whose parents were incarcerated as children in the Jerome and Gila River concentration camps. 

Updated April 2012

culture en

Albert Saijo: Karmic Heart

When the phone rang unexpectedly early one morning in 2009, I couldn’t believe it, but it was Albert Saijo on the line, calling me from the rainforests of Hawai‘i. It seemed serendipitious. His book, Outspeaks: A Rhapsody, not only lay on the kitchen table, but I had engaged in conversation that very morning about his poems, which were insistent and dense, full of remembrance yet muscular in its intellectual content and tone.

In an attempt to emulate Saijo’s block handwritten style, Outspeaks was typeset in ALL CAPS, which I interpreted as a prophet incanting at a feverish ...

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culture en

Gompers Saijo (1922-2003) - A Life Long Artist: from Art Students League Heart Mountain to the Shadow of Mt. Tamalpais

It is no great surprise that Eric Saijo’s home is surrounded by a profusion of California native plants—ceanothus, manzanita, redbud—and the interior is richly punctuated with bronze bells and whimsical sculptures of turtles and owls.

For years I’ve intended to find out more about Eric’s father, Nisei artist Gompers Saijo, the eldest in an extraordinary family of artists and intellectuals who shared a profound reverence for the earth and were everything but conventional Americans. On the first day of April, the opportunity to do so appeared, and I stepped across the family’s threshold.

Gompers ...

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culture en

Language and Silence—The Poetry of Asano Miyata Saijo (1891-1966)

In July 1932, on the occasion of the Los Angeles Olympic Games, The Kashu Mainichi ran an article welcoming the Japanese athletes, written by an unlikely writer who called herself an “obasan farmer living in southern California.” The author was a remarkable Issei whose progressive, feminist perspective graced the pages of both The Kashu Mainichi and The Rafu Shimpo newspapers for nearly forty years.

Asano “Misa” Saijo was also an educator and a dedicated haiku poet who lived amongst the orange, avocado, and walnut groves of the San Gabriel Valley. A writer perceives life as more than an assemblage of ...

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community en

The Ultimate Good: Grace Pastries

“Weddings are the most superstitious of holidays. And the cake? Well it’s like any marriage, right? I won’t say the cake is human, but the cake is something special.”

—Mary, a former Grace Pastries customer

Talk to anyone who grew up in the Crenshaw district of southwestern Los Angeles and they’ll tell you how they remember the sweet aroma that once spilled from the doors of Grace Pastries. At Grace Pastries, the cake was king; a symbolic reward that came as a result of the Japanese American communities’ hard-earned post-war successes. For every wedding, every graduation, every ...

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media en

THROUGH THE FIRE: Louise Suski

Before the advent of the offset printing process, The Rafu Shimpo handset every word, every comma, every dingbat and ornamental header, utilizing drawers of lead type. In the case of the Rafu, the metal kanji used to compose each page must have been imported from Japan and cost a fortune, weight several tons in total. In 1926, it was the oldest and largest Japanese newspaper serving the immigrant population of the greater Los Angeles area.

That same year, the Rafu made a bold decision to deliver a full set of Roman fonts, heralding a massive transition for the paper. To ...

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