Issei Pioneers focuses on the early immigration and settlement years of the Issei, the first generation of Japanese immigrants in the United States.
This exhibition occupies the hall once used as a sanctuary and a theater by the Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple. In this evocative setting, the exhibition floats like a landscape of the mind. Islands meticulously crafted of materials the Issei themselves might have chosen--handmade paper, golden cedar and black slate--display everyday objects as treasures. Photographs and precious papers tell stories of triumph and adversity. "Home movies" give us glimpses into a life long gone. Poetry written by Issei pioneers and spoken by their children fill the air. The natural sounds and music of the Issei world are also contained in the "soundscape," another of the innovations which make this exhibition uniquely powerful.