The Nisei Week Book Fair presents its final day of author presentations and book signings on Sunday, Aug. 16, at the James Irvine Japanese Garden and the plaza of the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center, 244 S. San Pedro St. in Little Tokyo.
Children’s pastimes will be the focus from 11:15 a.m. to 12:05 p.m. with Shig Yabu and artist Willie Ito (“A Boy of Heart Mountain”) and Kerry Yo Nakagawa (“Japanese American Baseball in California: A History”).
After a 45-year career as an animated cartoonist, Ito retired from Walt Disney Studio and formed Yabitoon Books LLC, publishing and illustrating children’s books with Yabu, his writing partner. Their books educate young readers about the plight of Japanese Americans incarcerated in concentration camps during World War II.
Nakagawa describes himself as a multimedia person and takes tremendous pride in his projects of passion. He is the founding curator of the “Diamonds in the Rough” international exhibit, which has been displayed at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., the Japan Hall of Fame in Tokyo, and museums around the country. He wrote the book “Through a Diamond: 100 years of Japanese American Baseball.”
From 12:15 to 1:05, p.m. Nisei and Sansei perspectives on writing will be shared by Hiroshi Kashiwagi and Patricia Takayama.
Kashiwagi will speak on his life experiences and do some readings from his books. He is a native of Sacramento, retired librarian, actor and playwright — a lifetime member of SAG/AFTRA and Dramatists Guild. He spent his World War II years at the Tule Lake concentration camp. His books include “Swimming in the American,” “Ocean Beach,” and “Starting from Loomis.”
Takayama’s “The Winter of Melancholy” is a collection of 17 short stories, divided into two parts. The first part is about an extended family. The second part includes individual stories about women whose professions or lives reflected the challenges they encountered. The stories are told from the viewpoint of the women whose lives were shaped by the period of isolation at Manzanar.
Poetry and performance are the themes from 1:15 to 2:20 p.m. with Amy Uyematsu and Genie Nakano.
Uyematsu is a Sansei poet and teacher. Her poems embrace her Japanese American heritage, politics, mathematics, spirituality, and the natural world. She is the author of four poetry collections, including “The Yellow Door,” the focus of her presentation.
Nakano’s presentation is a poetry/movement performance of tanka and haibun from her books “Enter the Stream” and “Storyteller.” Tanka is the oldest form of poetry in Japan, going back 1,600 years, and haibun is from the 16th century.
Sunny Seki presents Japanese toys and folklore from 2:30 to 2:50 p.m. with “The Little Kokeshi Doll from Fukushima.” He is also the author/illustrator of the children’s books “Yuko-chan and the Daruma Doll,” “The Last Kappa of Old Japan,” and “The Tale of the Lucky Cat,” and has won honors from NAPPA (National Parenting Publications Awards) and Creative Child Magazine.
From 3 to 4, p.m., we look to our past with Valerie Matsumoto (“City Girls: The Nisei Social World in Los Angeles, 1920-1950”) and Richard Reeves (“Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese American Internment in WWII”).
Matsumoto is a history professor at UCLA. Her other books include “Farming the Home Place: A Japanese Community in California, 1919-1982,” “Over the Edge: Remapping the American West,” and “The Cortez Colony: Family, Farm and Community Among Japanese Americans, 1919-1982.”
Reeves, the bestselling author of such books as “President Kennedy: Profile of Power,” is an award-winning journalist who has worked for The New York Times, written for The New Yorker, and served as chief correspondent for “Frontline” on PBS. Currently the senior lecturer at the Annenburg School for Communication and Journalism at USC, he lives in New York and Los Angeles.
Steven Doi of Steven G. Doi Books and mystery writer Naomi Hirahara wind up the day from 4:10 to 5 p.m.
Doi is a book dealer specializing in Japanese American books and ephemera. He also has an extensive personal collection, and has loaned material to museums and exhibits, including the Autry Museum and the Smithsonian. He has been a consultant to many films and books and was the consultant on three of the most significant transactions of Asian American materials in the country: the Frank Chin Collection at UC Santa Barbara, the Sun-Kishi Yellow Peril Collection at New York University, and the Vogel Rohwer Camp collection at the Arkansas State Museum. He has been professor of Asian American studies at San Jose State University for the past 35 years.
With the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in August, the Japanese American experience has a special resonance – not only in the U.S., but around the world. During the season when her first mystery, “Summer of the Big Bachi,” will be published in France, Edgar Award winner Hirahara discusses how her own professional writing career started in Little Tokyo at The Rafu Shimpo, and how writers need to persevere to take it to the next level.
Book-signings after each presentation will take place on the JACCC plaza at vendor booths: Asian American Curriculum Project, Chin Music Press, Heritage Source, Steven G. Doi Books, and Yabitoon Books.