Today on May 4, Google Doodle has honoured the Japanese-American journalist and author Hisaye Yamamoto, as it celebrates Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

Hisaye is among the few Asian American’s to receive post-war national literary recognition in the country.

Throughout her writing career, she worked on bringing out stories that highlighted the struggles of the minority communities.

Over the years her candid, as well as incisive work has helped, bridge the cultural gap between various communities.


Who is Hisaye Yamamoto?

Hisaye was born on August 23, 1921, to Japanese immigrant parents in Redondo Beach, California.

She belonged to a lower-income household as both her parents were strawberry farmers. The family had migrated from Japan’s Kumamoto Prefecture to California.

Because the family did not own any agricultural land, they moved around often when Hisaye was growing up.

Her varied childhood experiences helped shape Hisaye as a person. During her teen years she began writing for a daily newspaper for Japanese Californians under the name ‘Napoleon’.

As a young girl Hisaye had many dreams, however, her journey would be far from an easy one.

In February 1942, more than 112,000 Japanese Americans got evicted from their homes on the West Coast as a result of the Pearl Harbor bombing.

Thousands of Japanese-American families moved to internment camps due to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s executive orders.

Hisaye and her family were one of them.

Hisaye stayed at the camp for three years. During that time her brother John died in Italy fighting for America in the Second World War.

Hisaye Yamamoto’s books and journalism career

Following the end of the second world war, Yamamoto returned to Los Angeles and began pursuing her career in journalism. She became a columnist for the Los Angeles Tribune, a black-owned newspaper.

While working around the Los Angeles area, Hisaye reported many incidents of racism against the minority groups.

In 1948, she published her first short story, The High-Heeled Shoes. After the release of her story, she gave up her career in journalism and began pursuing writing full time.

Her books and short stories explored hard-hitting topics such as gender, race, and ethnicity.

The adversities and injustices Hisaye faced as a young girl shaped her work.

In 1986, at the age of 65, Hisaye won the Before Columbus Foundation’s American Book Award for Lifetime Achievement for her immense contributions to American literature.

Some of her most popular books include Seventeen Syllables and Other Stories and Yoneko’s Earthquake.

She passed away in 2011 at the age of 89.

The artist behind Hisaye Yamamoto Google Doodle

Speaking about the inspiring Hisaye, Alyssa Winans who created the May 4, Google Doodle said, “Reading Yamamoto’s work and working on this Doodle amidst all the recent news about rising violence-hit especially hard.”

The artist further explained, ” It’s difficult to see elements of history repeating itself, and my heart goes out to all the individuals and families that have been affected.”

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