Sharon Yamato

Sharon Yamato is a writer and filmmaker in Los Angeles. She has produced and directed two documentary films, Out of Infamy: Michi Nishiura Weglyn, and A Flicker in Eternity. She also wrote Moving Walls: Preserving the Barracks of America’s Concentration Camps. She has written articles for the Los Angeles Times, and is currently a columnist for The Rafu Shimpo. She has served as a consultant for the Japanese American National Museum, Go For Broke National Education Center, and has conducted oral history interviews for Densho in Seattle.

Updated June 2014

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The Power of Irei

Ireichō, Kintsugi, and the Transformation of Karma: A Conversation with Project Founder Duncan Ryuken Williams

To craft into a sacred book listing the names of 125,284 people of Japanese ancestry incarcerated at 75 World War II detention sites, it took inspired thought and meticulous research from its brilliant creative team. Led by Buddhist priest Duncan Ryuken Williams of the University of Southern California Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture, and book publisher Sunyoung Lee of Kaya Press, it was a book meant to be a living monument with Japanese spiritual elements among its essential building blocks. In his seminal book on Buddhism in the camps, American Sutra author Willia…

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Moving Farewell to Beloved Heart Mountain Farmer

As far as the eye could see along Road 90 where it meets Lane 9, stretching along the vast dusty farmland of Powell, Wyoming, and extending for miles in the shadow of Heart Mountain, 60 tractors paraded by the homestead farm that Tak Ogawa tended and nurtured for more than 70 years. The procession of farmers came to pay tribute to the man they knew as a pioneer, neighbor, co-worker, helper and friend. On March 31, Ogawa passed away quietly at the age of 96, just as the sun was rising and most likely around the time he was usually heading out to plow the fields. The oldest working homesteader…

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Behind the Art of Miné Okubo

How appropriate that on the 75th Anniversary of Miné Okubo’s pioneering graphic memoir, Citizen 13660, hailed for its groundbreaking account of the WWII incarceration by a Nisei held in camp, the Japanese American National Museum would present an exhibition drawn from its own impressive collection of Okubo masterworks. When the Museum was developing its reputation as the repository for notable Japanese American art more than twenty years ago, its innovative senior curator and art mastermind, Karin Higa, convinced Okubo and her estate to donate the massive body of work that includ…

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The Radicalization of a Poet and a Pastor: Diane C. Fujino on Nisei Radicals Mitsuye Yamada and S. Michael Yasutake

It took an engaged scholar like Diane C. Fujino to tell the story of the lives of two extraordinary siblings—poet Mitsuye Yamada and Reverend S. Michael Yasutake—with a deep dive into turbulent Nisei waters. Fujino’s previous work has included books on such audacious Japanese Americans as civil rights activist Yuri Kochiyama and prominent Black Panther member Richard Aoki. Always managing to cast a new light on Japanese American history, Fujino’s latest book, Nisei Radicals: The Feminist Poetics and Transformative Ministry of Mitsuye Yamada and Michael Yasutake, agai…

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Kizuna 2020: Nikkei Kindness and Solidarity During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Giving Thanks During COVID

What began last March as a few months of social distancing has now turned into the prospect of long-term isolation as COVID19 increases at a staggering rate. As a proud member of the senior population considered “high risk,” I can personally attest to the stresses and strains of home confinement. Perhaps the greatest deprivation has been the loss of social interaction except for who we can see on a phone or computer screen — with Skype, FaceTime, and Zoom becoming regular activities, not to mention rising to Webster dictionary status of actual verbs. I still yearn for the s…

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