Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II

Washington DC is full of monuments, but this is one that I have only heard about a recently.  The Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II was completed in 2001.  The idea was conceived by the Go for Broke National Veterans Association, which would later be renamed The National Japanese American Memorial Foundation.  The organization raised $13 million to construct the monument which honors Japanese Americans who fought for the United States during World War II.

The included picture is Golden Cranes, a bronze sculpture by Nina A. Akamu.  Also on the monument are the names of the Japanese Americans veterans who died fighting for the US in World War II, along with quotes from a number of prominent Japanese Americans.  There was some controversy over a quote from Mike Masaoka, but his quote was retained.

The National Park Service now is in charge of the monument.  The memorial is located at the intersection of New Jersey Ave, Louisiana Ave, and D Street NW.

<photo credit:  Cliff via the Creative Commons License 2.0>

“Born Free and Equal”: Ansel Adams’ Book and Manzanar Photo Series

manzanarpaperAs a public official openly endorsed interning Syrian refugees just like Japanese Americans and a musical about the internment has opened on Broadway, the Washington Post has recently put up a montage of photos from famed landscape photographer Ansel Adams.  During World War II, he was too old to be drafted, but wanted to help the war effort and volunteered his photographic skills. While not known for focusing on human subjects, he was asked to document life at the Manzanar internment camp.   His photos became part of a controversial book called Born Free and Equal:  The Story of Loyal Japanese-Americans.
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George Tetsuo Aratani, Nisei Entrepreneur and Philanthropist, Passes Away at Age 95


George Aratani, a survivor of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, and later successful businessman and philanthropist who founded Mikasa and Kenwood, passed away Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at the age of 95.

His legacy in philanthropy through The Aratani Foundation has supported many Japanese American organizations, but especially in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo. One literally cannot walk a block in Little Tokyo without passing by a space endowed by George and Sakaye Aratani: Japanese American Cultural and Community Center’s Aratani Japan America Theatre; the Japanese American National Museum’s George and Sakaye Central Hall; and the Union Center for the Arts’s Aratani Courtyard.

From The Nisei Week Foundation Facebook page:

The Nisei Week Foundation mourns the passing of George Aratani who passed away peacefully today [Tuesday, February 19, 2013].

Aratani successfully launched post-World War II international trade enterprises. His first was Mikasa, a tableware company which was doing $400 million in annual sales when it was sold in 2000.

Influenced by his late father and motivated by the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, Aratani and his wife Sakaye have donated a sizable amount of their wealth to Japanese American organizations and causes.

For More Information:
Hirahara, Naomi. An American Son: The Story of George Aratani, Founder of Mikasa and Kenwood. Los Angeles, CA: Japanese American National Museum, 2001.

Photo credit: CalPoly Pomona, The George and Sakaye Aratani Japanese Garden

“Hookin’ Up” with Mariko Izumi

Hookin’ Up with Mariko Izumi” is a show about what you see in this picture.  That’s right, that rod she is holding is a fishing rod!   Mariko Izumi hosts a fishing show on WFN, the World Fishing Network channel.   She is daughter of champion angler Wayne Izumi and the niece of angler and TV host, Bob Izumi.  I first encountered the Izumi family when trying to relax by watching guys bash each other on the Versus channel.  I noticed a show called Bob Izumi’s Real Fishing show, and the Asian name caught my eye.   Bob Izumi is a full time professional angler and in addition to being Mariko’s uncle, is an co-author of a number of books and is the chairman of of the Fish for Ever Foundation, a conservation foundation dedicated toward preserving Ontario’s fisheries.

How did these Japanese Canadians get into the fishing business?  It seems that Japanese Americans and Japanese Canadians have had some influence in fishing in the US Northwest and Canada.  The fishing technique for salmon called “Mooching,” drift-fishing using only a banana-lead weight tied to a leader with a herring, described here, was said to be invented to by Japanese immigrant fisherman.  The name, according to this account, comes from these Japanese fisherman who did so well that other fisherman would “mooch” their bait to use themselves.  The Tengu fishing derby in Elliott Bay near Seattle was started by these Japanese-American fisherman in the 1930’s.  A “Tengu” is a creature from Japanese mythology whose nose, like Pinnochio’s, grew when it lied, a perfect name for a fishing contest (think “fish” stories about “the one that got away”).  The tournament was interrupted by the Japanese American internment, but has been going on ever since.  Bob Izumi’s father started one of the first fishing tournaments in Ontario.  Japanese-American and Seattle Native Mark Yuasa blogs about fishing for the Seattle Times.

Researching this post makes me want to try fishing some day.  I was pleasantly surprised to learn about the influence that Asian-Americans and Asian-Canadians have had on fishing in North America.  Plus, Mariko Izumi’s show seems like a great and certainly easy on the eyes way to start learning about it!

Asian American Medical Hazard: Kawasaki Disease

Pediatrician Dr. Wolffe Nadoolman was puzzled by the symptoms shown by a 18 month old toddler of Asian descent.  The whites of the boy’s eyes were pink, yet there was no crusting or discharge that is typical of conjunctivitus (pink-eye).   He ran a low grade fever for five days.  What could the problem be?  As this New York Times article later reveals, the toddler had Kawasaki Disease.

 (Flickr photo credit: FrankZoe)

Kawasaki disease is an inflammation of the middle size arteries that occurs in children.  This inflammation can affect many areas, but the most serious and lasting problems happen in the heart’s arteries, where aneurysms can lead to heart attacks, even in young children.  Common symptoms are a prolonged fever with pink eyes or pink lips, such as shown by this baby.  It most commonly occurs in children of Japanese descent.  Most children completely recover from the disease, which is treated with aspirin and Gamma Globulin.  Long lasting complications, when they occur, are typically heart problems caused by damage to coronary arteries.

Oddly enough, while Kawasaki disease happens more often to those of Asian ancestry, Americans of all ethnic groups are getting it.  It tends to happen more in groups with higher socio-economic status.   John Travolta’s son Jett, who died earlier this year, had the disease when he was 15 months old.  There is some speculation that environment factors, such as carpet cleaners, are responsible for this increase, and there is also some theories that an infectious agent is responsible, as the disease often occurs in outbreaks and tends to be seasonal during late winter and early spring.

Hat tip to Tim