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Colorado's Japanese Americans

From 1886 to the Present

By Bill Hosokawa

Publication Year: 2005

"This crisply-written, well-designed treasure is a haunting tale every Coloradan should know."— Tom Noel, Rocky Mountain News & Denver Post

"Hosokawa's century-long account is measured and even handed: concentration camps are one of many events in the community's continuum of experiences. . . . a lively presentation . . . and an excellent choice for the inaugural work of this series."—Stefanie Beninato, Journal of the West

"Bill Hosokawa, a master writer, has drawn together thousands of strands of Japanese history in Colorado to make a rich historical cloth." — Stephen J. Leonard

"Using his knack for storytelling, Bill Hosakawa brings the life of the Colorado Issei and Nisei to life." — Colorado Endowment for the Humanities 2005 Publication Prize Committee

"... [A]n easy reading book that is quite interesting, humorous, insightful and inspirational that everyone, even non-Coloradoans would enjoy reading."— Ted Namba, past president of the Arizona JACL

In Colorado's Japanese Americans, renowned journalist and author Bill Hosokawa pens the first history of this significant minority in the Centennial State. From 1886, when the young aristocrat Matsudaira Tadaatsu settled in Denver, to today, when Colorado boasts a population of more than 11,000 people of Japanese ancestry, Japanese Americans have worked to build homes, businesses, families, and friendships in the state. Hosokawa traces personal histories, such as Bob Sakata's journey from internment in a relocation camp to his founding of a prosperous truck farm; the conviction of three sisters for assisting the escape of German POWs; and the years of initiative and determination behind Toshihiro Kizaki's ownership of Sushi Den, a beloved Denver eatery. The author relates personal stories, and the larger history of interweaving of cultures in Colorado.

Published by: University Press of Colorado

Series: Timberline Series


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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xii

As the initial offering in the University Press of Colorado’s Timberline Series, we selected Bill Hosokawa’s Colorado’s Japanese Americans: From 1886 to the Present. His work meets our aspirations that the Timberline Series encompass the best works on Colorado. ...

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pp. xiii-xviii

This book is about a people from a rocky string of islands who journeyed eastward across the vast Pacific Ocean and came to Colorado in search of a future for themselves and their children. It is the one-hundred-year history—a significant, warm, and sometimes sad story of hardships, defeats, and successes,...

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1: The First Century

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pp. 1-8

“What,” the visitor from Japan asked,“have the Japanese—people from my country and their descendants—what have they done in the century they have been in Colorado to make it a better state, a better place? What have they done for themselves, and for America? ...

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2: Today: An Overview

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pp. 9-20

To understand contemporary Japanese American life in Colorado, let us begin with the gray granite, gold-domed building—the Colorado state capitol—atop a slope looking out over downtown Denver and to the Rockies on the far western horizon. ...

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3: The First Visitors

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pp. 21-29

The first Japanese to spend any significant amount of time in the United States was a sixteen-year-old castaway fisherman named Nakahama Manjiro. Shipwrecked on a tiny Pacific island, he and several companions were rescued by a U.S. whaling ship called the John Howland from New Bedford, Massachussetts. ...

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4: Workin' on the Railroad

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pp. 30-36

By 1900 the vast reaches of Colorado were stitched together by hundreds of miles of railroad crossing the prairies; taking supplies into the mountains and bringing out the ore; linking ranches with meat packers in Omaha, Kansas City, and Chicago; and coming back with manufactured goods. ...

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5: Coal and Steel

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pp. 37-40

Not iron ore but gold and silver were the minerals that first attracted settlers to the Colorado mountains in the second half of the eighteenth century, and the Chinese began to arrive toward the end of the precious metals boom. ...

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6: One Man's Story

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pp. 41-57

Much of the story of early Japanese immigration to the United States is from long-ago recollections of aging immigrants. But this chapter is based on the diary of a Coloradan who faithfully kept a journal of his thoughts and activities in the early years of the last century. ...

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7: Adopting Christianity

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pp. 58-64

In stories of the old Wild West, a Christian clergyman is often in the background urging the rough frontiersmen to reject temptation and sin, worship God, and live clean lives. But in the earliest years of Japanese immigration to Colorado, the unattached young Japanese, as Buddhists, had nowhere to turn for spiritual guidance even if they...

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8: The Buddhists

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pp. 65-75

Formalized Buddhism in Colorado can be traced back to the arrival of Rev. Tessho Ono from San Francisco in 1916. The year before, he and two other priests had visited Pueblo, Rocky Ford, Denver, Brighton, Fort Lupton, and other areas where Japanese had settled and had found a great yearning among them for a priest who could provide spiritual guidance and conduct traditional services. ...

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9: The Associations

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pp. 76-84

It has been said that when two Chinese get together in America, they open a restaurant. It also might be said that when two or more Japanese get together, they organize an association for mutual benefit and protection. Unfortunately they don’t seem to keep good records. ...

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10: December 7

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pp. 85-99

On the night of Friday, December 5, 1941, a handful of Denver-area Nisei met at the Japanese Association Hall to hear Utah-born Mike Masaru Masaoka. Only weeks earlier he had been hired by the national Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) in San Francisco as its executive secretary. ...

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11: Granada

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pp. 100-114

Within a month after Executive Order 9066 empowered the Army to remove Japanese Americans from designated areas, the federal government established the War Relocation Authority (WRA) to deal with the problem of what to do with the displaced people. ...

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12: The Alien Land and Law

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pp. 115-123

The growth of the Japanese American population in Denver during the war years went relatively unnoticed, but that was not the case in some rural areas of Colorado, particularly in Adams County just north of Denver. Some residents began to view with alarm the growing number of Japanese who were settling in the county and sharecropping, leasing farms, or—horrors—buying land. ...

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13: The Press

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pp. 124-136

Early Japanese immigrants knew almost no English, but most of them despite their humble origins were literate in Japanese thanks to compulsory grade school education at home. Thus it is understandable that Japanese-language newspapers were among their first enterprises. ...

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14: The Special Patriots

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pp. 137-145

Japanese Americans were not warmly welcomed in many parts of Colorado during World War II, but in at least two places they were considered an indispensable part of the national civilian war effort and treated accordingly. One was the University of Colorado campus in Boulder. ...

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15: After the War

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pp. 146-150

The months after the Japanese surrender in September 1945 were, for Japanese American exiles from the West Coast, almost as stressful as the weeks that led to the evacuation. There were so many questions. Should we go back home? But back home to what? ...

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16: The Veterans

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pp. 151-163

The bitter, bloody war between Japan and the United States came to an end on August 15, 1945. It was a day of elation and relief, and grief too that there had been so much bloodshed on both sides. For Coloradans with friends and family in the shattered islands, food, medicine, and clothing would be sent as soon as postal service resumed. ...

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17: Sakura Square

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pp. 164-170

The heart of Denver’s Japantown, Nineteenth to Twentieth Streets and Larimer to Lawrence, and the surrounding area grew shabbier as the years passed. By 1962 the lay leaders of the Denver Buddhist Temple, which was near the corner of Twentieth and Lawrence, realized they needed to improve the site. But how? ...

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18: Sister Cities

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pp. 171-186

One day in summer 1960 Tamotsu Murayama of the Japan Times, Japan’s leading English language newspaper, called on me in my office at the Denver Post. I had known Murayama since before the war when he worked on Japanese language newspapers in San Francisco, but he had spent the war years in Japan. ...

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19: The Search for Business

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pp. 187-192

One day in spring 1979, a young, athletically built Japanese businessman arrived in Denver. His name was Isao Kamitani and he represented Japan’s giant Sumitomo Trading conglomerate. His mission was to establish an office in Denver and look for opportunities for Sumitomo in Colorado’s economy, which was then riding on an en-...

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20: Consular Connection

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pp. 193-199

One day in 1974 Nobuhiko Ushiba, the Japanese ambassador in Washington, D.C., passed through Denver and invited me to lunch. We chatted about many things and I was under the impression the ambassador was simply trying to learn more about Colorado. ...

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21: Sushi Everyone?

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pp. 200-207

The most recent Yellow Pages of the Denver-area telephone directory list forty-six Japanese restaurants and the names of twenty-one of them include the word “sushi.” “Akebono Seafood and Sushi Bar” is at the head of the list and, next to last, is “Yoshi Tei Japanese Restaurant & Sushi.” ...

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22: The Imperials

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pp. 208-215

It is not easy to confirm this but Denver may be the only inland U.S. city visited on different occasions by three members of the Japa-nese imperial family. ...

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23: Storied Quilts

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pp. 216-219

One day in 1995 three Nisei women in Denver went to see the Smithsonian’s touring exhibit of early American quilts made up of patches that told a story of the nation’s strength through diversity. The three were Carolyn Takeshita, Tomoye Kumagai, and June Mochizuki. ...

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24: Five Farmers

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pp. 220-235

Five stories of Colorado Japanese American farming families are told here. From the sad story of the Tanaka family in Longmont to the outrageous story of Mike Mizokami’s bureaucratic persecution. And then there is the inspiring story of Bob Sakata and his wife Joanna and the unusual story of Sam Matsuda and his brothers, Toshi and Dick. ...

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25: The Newcomers

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pp. 236-241

Before the end of World War II, no Japanese had been allowed to immigrate to the United States since March 1, 1925. That was the date the Asian Exclusion Act, barring immigration from all parts of Asia—but not Europe—went into effect. ...

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26: A Day to Remember

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pp. 242-244

The following is a column written in 2003 by the author for Pacific Citizen, the weekly publication of the Japanese American Citizens League. ...

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27: Why?

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pp. 245-251

This book opened with questions from a visitor from Japan. “What,” he asked, “have the Japanese—people from my country and their descendents—what have they done in the century they have been in Colorado to make it a better state, a better place? What have they done for themselves, and for America?” ...

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pp. 253-254


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pp. 255-270

E-ISBN-13: 9780870818776
E-ISBN-10: 0870818775
Print-ISBN-13: 9780870818103
Print-ISBN-10: 0870818104

Page Count: 264
Illustrations: 30 black and White
Publication Year: 2005

Series Title: Timberline Series