|Who are Issei?
The first generation of immigrant Japanese Americans. The issei are the parents of the nisei, the grandparents of the sansei. As is true for the other generations, the word issei comes from the Japanese character for the generation number, in this case, one. The first wave of issei came to the United States between 1885 and 1924. Due to restrictive immigration laws, virtually no Japanese immigrants came to this country between 1924 and the end of World War II. In addition, the issei were not allowed to become naturalized American citizens until 1952. Postwar Japanese immigrants are usually referred to as shin-issei, the prefix shin meaning "new."
New Years ritual involving the pounding of rice to make soft mochi cakes. Traditionally a family or community activity, the women would soak and cook the special mochi rice after which the men would take turns pounding the mochi rice with a large wooden mallet in a stone or wood mortar until it was soft and smooth. Another man would kneel next to the mochi, moistening and turning it between the pounding; sometimes a second person would pound alternately from the other side. It was imperative that a consistent rhythm be kept up lest the mochi "turner" get his hands squashed. The pounded mochi would then be divided into small portions, covered with starch or flour, and made into small cakes; some of the cakes would be filled with a sweet bean paste. The finished mochi is one of the traditional New Year foods.
Who are Nisei?
Second-generation Japanese Americans. The word nisei comes from the Japanese character for the generation number, in this case, "two." The nisei are the first American-born generation. Most mainland nisei were born between the years 1915 and 1935; in Hawaii large numbers were born about a decade earlier. The word Nisei was once used to refer to all Japanese Americans, but is not commonly used in that regard today.
Governmental agency charged with administering America's concentration camps. The War Relocation Authority (WRA) was a civilian agency created by Executive Order 9102 on March 18, 1942, to oversee the detention of Japanese Americans during World War II.
© Japanese American National Museum