This important tribute to the issei (first generation Japanese Americans) integrates the stories of three people who describe a collective history through their personal memories.
“Lyricism and visual beauty are evident in this film as three issei (first generation Japanese Americans) describe a collective history through their personal memories.”
Three issei (first generation Japanese Americans) describe a collective history through personal memories. Miura, a fisherman and wanderer, came to America by ship as an apprentice steward to see the world. The director’s father, Harukichi, a gardener, remembers the little boys who taunted him as he bicycled from his job with a lawnmower tied to his back post World War II. Through Mrs. Sumi, we learn how issei farmers developed the prosperous Imperial Valley farmlands despite the Alien Land Law. In a moving scene, several issei talk about the World War II evacuation. And in one pilgrimage, three generations pay tribute to lives spent at Manzanar concentration camp.
Robert Nakamura’s WATARIDORI: BIRDS OF PASSAGE stands as one of the quintessential documentary portraits celebrating the legacy of the issei, or first-generation Japanese Americans. It had the distinction of being presented at The White House in 1976 as part of America’s Bicentennial festivities, and is still an unequalled study of early Asian American community-building.