Did you know there was a golden age of Japanese-language Nikkei literature in the United States during the 1920s and 30s? Despite laws that legalized anti-Asian racism throughout the country, Issei (first-generation immigrant) literary activity flourished in Japanese American communities.
Click here to flip through the literary journal Harvest (Shūkaku / 穫收), Vol. 1 No. 1, 1936.
Morio Hayashida, who lived near the Crenshaw District, was very active in the Japanese-language Los Angeles literary community. He published poems in the Rafu Shimpo, literary journals, and eventually his own book, Where to Go (1928). Hirokazu Kosaka, JACCC’s Master Artist in Residence, is Hayashida’s grandson, and the caretaker of his published and unpublished writings.
In the pre-war period, the Los Angeles-based publishing company Agosto-sha actively supported local Japanese-language poetry. They had a regular poetry column in the Rafu Shimpo, organized poetry retreats, and published several poetry collections, including Torch, an anthology commemorating the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics.
Issei Poetry Friday regularly features poems from the "Los Angeles Issei Poetry Collection Digital Edition," an ongoing archival project funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and The John Randoph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation.