Patricia Wakida

Patricia Wakida is the editor of two publications on the Japanese American experience, Only What We Could Carry: The Japanese American Internment Experience, and Unfinished Message: the collected works of Toshio Mori. For the past fifteen years, she has worked as a literary and community historian, including Associate Curator of History at the Japanese American National Museum, Contributing Editor for Discover Nikkei website, and as an Associate Editor of the Densho Encyclopedia project. She serves on various non-profit boards including Poets & Writers California, Kaya Press, and the California Studies Association. Patricia has worked as an apprentice papermaker in Gifu, Japan and as an apprentice letterpress printer and hand bookbinder in California; she maintains her own linoleum block and letterpress business under the Wasabi Press imprint. She is a Yonsei, whose parents were incarcerated as children in the Jerome (Arkansas) and Gila River (Arizona) American concentration camps. She lives in Oakland, California with her husband Sam and Gosei, Hapa (Japanese Mexican) son, Takumi.

Updated August 2017

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 ...

Read more

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 ...

Read more

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 ...

Read more

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 ...

Read more

media en


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 ...

Read more