Akemi Kikumura Yano

Akemi Kikumura Yano is a Visiting Scholar at the University of California at Los Angeles, Asian American Studies Center.  She holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from UCLA and is an award-winning author, curator, and playwright, best known for her book Through Harsh Winters:  The Life of an Immigrant Woman.

Updated February 2012

identity en

Mukashi Banashi - Part 4

Read Part 3 >>

Today, there are approximately 100 Japanese American families living in the Fowler vicinity. Only three families continue to farm as their main economic source. Approximately 90 percent of these families belong to the Buddhist Church where church-related activities seem to be the recognized unifying force in the community. However, many residents have voiced their concerns over the community’s future since increased education, lack of job opportunities, changing cultural values, interracial marriages, and greater social acceptance by the white dominant society have prompted the Sansei and Yonsei (third and fourth generation) to leave the confines of rural …

Read more

identity en

Mukashi Banashi - Part 3

Rear Part 2 >>

The children cradled the hopes of the Japanese community, for as American-born citizens, they would be entitled to the rights that the Issei were denied. But, as social and economic barriers continued to plague the community, the future of the second generation did not appear very promising. In 1913, the state had passed the first Alien Land Law, aimed particularly at the Japanese, forbidding them to own land and limiting leases to a period of three years. Some Issei, like the Abes, put the title of their farm in the name of the Osaki’s eldest son …

Read more

identity en

Mukashi Banashi - Part 2

Read Part 1 >>>

When the women finally arrived in Fowler, they found a thriving Japanese community dominated by the interests of a predominantly male population. Like many towns in the county, Fowler’s Japanese community was situated on “the other side of the tracks” along with the Chinese who had settled there before them, and who, in the 1870s numbered five hundred, the largest immigrant group in Fresno County. Racial antagonism had compelled the Japanese and Chinese, as well as other ethnic minorities (German-Russians, Italians, and Armenians) to live in separate “colonies” that met the economic, social, and spiritual needs …

Read more

identity en

Mukashi Banashi - Part 1

In the summer of 1981, I drove through the Tehachapi Pass from Los Angeles and descended onto the flat, dry floor of the San Joaquin Valley, one of the largest valleys in the world and once the bed of a vast inland sea, stretching approximately 250 miles long and 40 to 65 miles wide, extending from Sacramento in the north to Kern County on the south, and bounded by Mount Diablo Spur on the west and Sierra Nevadas on the east.1

I was headed for Fowler, a small agricultural town in the heart of Fresno County where I had …

Read more

community en es pt

COPANI & KNT (2007)

Contemporary Issues Facing Japanese American Communities

Today, a number of challenges face the Japanese American communities in the United States. At the core of these challenges is the fact that Japanese American communities have become increasingly complex, dispersed and diverse. No longer can we neatly define the Japanese American community by generations – Issei, Nisei, Sansei -- who share common beliefs and historical experiences. Previous definitions of what constitutes a “Japanese American” now seem totally inadequate as one-out-of-three Japanese American is of mixed ethnic or racial heritage, and the new post-WWII immigration of “Shin Issei,” or “New Issei” born in Japan and their American-born Nisei children, …

Read more

Series this author contributes to