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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The truth behind religious freedom in Japan

Although only an assistant professor of religious studies at the University of Pennsylvania, Jolyon Baraka Thomas has already published one remarkable book, Drawing on Tradition: Manga, Anime, and Religion in Contemporary Japan (University of Hawai‘i Press), and is presently working on a third book with the tentative title of “Difficult Subjects: Debating Religion and Public Education in Japan and the United States.” As for the volume under review here, Thomas’ second book, it is a brilliantly conceived, deeply researched, tightly argued, and elegantly composed comparative and transnational inquiry into the concept and practice of religious freedom, with particular emphasis upon …

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The Causes and Consequences of a Government ‘Scheme’

Some readers may well wonder why this book by seasoned Latin American journalist Mary Jo McConahay is being reviewed here for their consumption, consideration, and contemplation. After all, its focus, as the volume’s title intimates, is the World War II shadow war for the Western Hemisphere pitting the Axis against the Allies for popular support, military advantage, and natural resources, one in which each side, “closely shadowed the steps of the other, like dancers in a tango” (pp. xii).

While The Tango War certainly fills a gap in the history of World War II, is painstakingly researched and documented, conveyed …

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Rediscovering Honouliuli and preserving former camp sites

Having previously read with enjoyment and edification a trio of books published by the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i — Life behind Barbed Wire: The World War II Internment Memoirs of a Hawaii Issei (2008), Family Torn Apart: The Internment Story of the Otokichi Muin Ozaki Family (2012) and Haisho Tenten: An Internment Odyssey (2017) — I was overjoyed by the prospect of scrutinizing still another sterling JCCH volume.

Although not as ambitious in analytical penetration, topical and thematic context, and historical detail as the above noted three works, this slender primer is both more comprehensive in coverage and richer …

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Deconstructing intersections of Asian America

Up until 2004, I was a mere (and rather unreflective) spectator to taiko drumming. However, that year I fortuitously became involved as an oral historian in a Japanese American National Museum-sponsored project that culminated in a 2005-2006 exhibition at JANM titled Big Drum: Taiko in the U.S. Curated by Sojin Kim, it featured a new documentary DVD of the same name that included parts of the exhibition media installations as well performances by various taiko groups and videotaped interviews with key taiko leaders and practitioners.

The exhibition’s July 13, 2005, opening, according to a June 2006 Masumi Izumi review in …

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A ‘Family-themed Inquiry’ into the ‘Wages of War’

This book by Matthew Elms is a heart-rending Japanese American family-themed inquiry into the dismaying “wages of war.” It is published by the American Battle Monuments Commission, a national government agency charged with the maintenance of 27 cemeteries worldwide that honor more than 200,000 Americans who lost their lives in the military service of their country during World War I and World War II. Consistent with the ABMC’s mission, Elms wrote When the Akimotos Went to War “to highlight the true story of one Japanese American family for young adults” (p. 146).

As a teacher in the commission’s “Understanding Sacrifice” …

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