japanese american

Robert Swift ex-NBA is a Slob

Whoa. He’s one of the messier 1/4 Asian Americans, but read on, he’s a 7 foot basketball player.

A quote from the Rafu Shimpo from ’09: “Robert Swift, whose father is half Japanese (Okinawan), was the first Asian as well as first Caucasian player to be drafted straight out of high school and was taken with the twelfth overall pick in the 2004 NBA draft by the Seattle Sonics.”
Now, he’s left his foreclosed home a super mess. Food, feces, and guns. A great combo.

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Japanese Dolls Returned After 70 Years

Japanese dolls returned after “safekeeping” while the owner was in a WWII Internment Camp. Aside from the greatness of getting the heirloom dolls back, it’s amazing to see the greatness of these dolls. The details are amazing. The story is about the reuniting of two childhood friends after 70 years and it’s a nice read. (Sacbee – Friends) Photos by Paul Kitagaki Jr.

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Concentration Camp Letters Found in a Wall

Why were they there is the question. Who were they hiding them from? Internees were allowed to write letters and they ordered products from outside companies. The folks who owned this pharmacy in Colorado must have been afraid of something. Did they ship the orders? Was it possibly fear of being in collusion with the internees? (Huffpo – WWII)

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The Japanese Gardener

They are a dying breed. This is a story in the LA Times about the trade, how it got going, and where it’s going. We featured a Japanese American gardener in a past issue of Giant Robot. He’s a rare example of a “younger gardener” Brian Yamasaki. (LA Times – Japanese Gardeners)

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George Takei Talks About Allegiance

Perhaps the most important project to date for George Takei is Allegiance – A New American Musical. Can’t you picture George says, “It’s not only Japaneeese Americaaaan, it’s Americaaaan”. It’s about his childhood and internment camps and not the current state of his career. There’s a Q and A to read and George goes through the questions with ease. Allegiance is a musical, keep that in mind, so the hard edge will come at an audience in another way. (WNYC – Takei)


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Frozen Sperm Works After 40 Years

Japanese American’s frozen sperm works after 40 years. The man produced twins. He allegedly spent 8000 to have the sperm continued to be frozen and hopefully the satisfaction of having children that he won’t know is fine. It’s either the magic of science or his sperm is magical. (Bioedge – 40 Years)

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Concentration Camp Photos in Color

It’s rare to see photos of Japanese Americans in Concentration Camps in color. It’s an eye opener and you get a different sense of life when you see it in color. Photos by Bill Manbo in color collected in a single book, Colors of Confinement: Rare Kodachrome Photographs of Japanese American Incarceration in World War II. 

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Concentration Camp: Tule Lake Pilgrimage

Pilgrimage to Tule Lake reported in the NY Times. Cool. The best part though might be the comments. The NY Times actually gets some decent dialog going. (NY Times – Tule)

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Japanese American Camps in Hawaii

drawing by George Hoshida

Japanese Americans in Hawaii. They’re often forgotten in regards to World War II. Although there were over one hundred thousand Japanese Americans living during World War II, some were put into camps. Now the sites will become taken care of. (KHON – JA)


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LA County Internment Vote Rescinded

The Internment vote was rescinded, which for some is a big deal. Of course it does nothing to pay back additional sums for losses, etc. Yes imagine, houses, cars, possessions were all lost and taken by others… For 110,000 folks, you just can’t pay that back correctly – even for those who are still alive. Yet, this is righting a wrong even if it’s 70 years later.

“In January 1942, the then-supervisors unanimously approved a resolution to urge President Franklin D. Roosevelt to proceed with the internment, saying it was difficult “if not impossible to distinguish between loyal and disloyal Japanese aliens.””

(LA Times – Rescinded)



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George Takei Way Back

George Takei in Little Tokyo with a group of Boy Scouts. What a cool guy and I can see the jokes take off from here. Taken from George Takei’s FB page.

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Time Lists Terminal Island as a Place That Will Disappear

(Time Magazine – Historic Places) (Old post I wrote on a visit to Terminal Island)

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Camp Musubi Shave Ice Special

Any excuse to write about Brian’s Shave Ice is a great one. But this time it’s more than just about Shave Ice, it’s about Camp Musubi. They were having a fundraiser. Until just a bit earlier in the day, I’ve never heard of this Camp. It’s a Japanese American Day Camp for middle schoolers to learn a little bit of something about their history.

In our world that’s increasingly getting busier and bombarded with news from almost everywhere except Asian America, this is important. I’ll also add it’s important for Japanese Americans especially when it seems that “our” numbers are shrinking along with visibility in many public arenas. Sometimes when visiting film festivals, art schools etc, I wonder where the Japanese Americans are? There’s often none.

That’s filmmaker Tad Nakamura enjoying a very tiny serving of shave ice. Go large!


That’s Erika Olsen devouring size large. POG, Rootbeer, and Lihing Mui with Dole Whip in the center. That’s how the champs do it.

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They Wore Their Best: The Japanese American Evacuation and After

Paul Kitagaki Jr, photographer unearthed some Dorothea Lange photos from the Internment experience and coupled them with some more recent photos and stories that are now hanging at the San Bruno Bart station which is where Tanforan Race Track, an assembly center for Japanese American was located and 70 years ago. A great concept, history, and the station will probably get more visitors than a gallery show. Take a look at the photos and read the stories. They never get old. SF Gate.

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At 92, Yoshihiro Uchida Has to be The Coach of the Century

Yes John Wooden maybe gets that title, but Yoshihiro Uchida is 92 and is the coach of the San Jose State Judo team. He’s been coaching 66 years. That has to be some kind of record. 45 Championships in 51 years. Is that a record too? While some of us try to find a way not to work, this man appears to have figured it all out. A Japanese American, his story is typical of many. Concentration camp, fighting in a war, and then finding a life afterwards. From zero to hero. (NY Times – Yoshihiro Uchida)

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Japanese American Mural in San Bernardino, CA

What’s in a mural. Usually it’s public art that goes unnoticed. This one in San Bernardino of all places is a testament to Japanese Americans. Yes, they’re working in a field and it could be anywhere. It could be almost any Asian ethnicity, but it’s intentionally Japanese American. Why would Carrie Lange want this on her wall? We don’t know exactly, but it’s there. (KCET – JA Wall)

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Fujiya Market – a rare place to close

Fujiya Market which has always looked out of place on Virgil was once in an area of Japanese Americans called J-Flats. No. I’ve never heard of that, and this market at 80 years is still there. The proprietors aren’t the originals, but the space looks classic and great. I made a comment recently about Granada Market on Sawtelle which shares a similar type vibe. It’s old, classic, strange and you hope it won’t close, but it probably will. No kid wants to take over an old market as much as they’d want to own a taco truck. For spots like these, I’d wish there were grants, rent subsidies and so on just to keep them open as historical locations. They do matter in the history of a city. (LA Weekly – Fujiya Market) For more photos, take a look at this flickr page by Guzzleandnosh.


Japanese American Camp Stories

Japanese American National Museum are collecting Japanese American concentration camp stories from survivors. A three year project is underway to get more of these stories, and organizations everywhere have already begun this process. Perhaps it needs to be smaller in scale and some time of initiative for people to just do this at home is a better way to go. (Mainichi – Preserve JA Stories)

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Today is Fred Korematsu Day

Fred Korematsu Day Explained. It’s the second time it’s been celebrated. Yes, it’ll grow. Jan 30th.

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George Takei Celebrity Apprentice and JANM

I’m always following the work of George Takei. The photo below is from a talk we did together. Who has more greys… me?! He’s on Celebrity Apprentice and he’s supporting the Japanese American National Museum and is talking about it on Good Day LA. (The link opens a video) This man is awesome. At bottom, he intro’d the Giant Robot Biennale 2 and I hope he does Biennale 3 for us in September.



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