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The Four Immigrants Manga: A Japanese Experience in San Francisco, 1904-1924
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The Four Immigrants Manga: A Japanese Experience in San Francisco, 1904-1924

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  136 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
History. Cartoons. Asian American Studies. Originally published in Japanese in San Francisco in 1931, "The Four Immigrants Manga" is Henry Kiyama's visual chronicle of his immigrant experience in the United States. Drawn in a classic gag-strip comic-book style, this heartfelt tale -- rediscovered, translated, and introduced by manga expert Frederick L. Schodt -- is a fasci ...more
Paperback, 152 pages
Published October 1st 1998 by Stone Bridge Press (first published 1998)
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Oct 08, 2014 added it
Found this in a thrift store and it seemed really interesting. It's a story of the writer and 3 of his friends, and the experiences they had from 1904-1924. They were all immigrants from Japan who moved to the USA. It was published in 1931. It's a fun way to get some background knowledge of the history of japanese immigration to SF around that time, and it's funny at times. Way better than reading a textbook. A very interesting historical document.
Nov 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Read this book if you are interested in early 20th century Japanese-American relations, or if you are interested in the history of diary comics. Fascinating and lovingly translated.
Nov 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
YA, Graphic Novel, Japanese Experience in San Francisco from 1904-1924.
Leslie Ann
Mar 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
I learned about this book from this article describing the book's adaptation as a musical. The stories do a pretty good job of conveying the dreams and prejudices experienced by Kiyama and his fellow Japanese immigrants; the various exclusion acts and bans really resonate today. I was intrigued how Kiyama depicted the Japanese immigrants as Westerners rather than with slanted eyes (unlike the Chinese in the comics), possibly to reflect their desire to distance themselves away from Asia and "mode ...more
Sep 11, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: humanists, historians, and poly-sci folk
The first stories in this collection failed to thrill me at first. It was rather mundane business about Japanese students trying to get work-study jobs as domestic servants. Sad and revealing--how they were treated, the segregation and the prejudice of the "keto whiteys" (BTW, what does anyone know what keto means?) F*@#ing? And the gag comic strip style is not terribly appealing to me; however, further along in the series, the stories and dialouges become more interesting. You learn about their ...more
Sep 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a charming autobiographical story of four young Japanese men who came to San Francisco in 1904, drawn in the 1920s. It's not the typical Japanese manga style, which hadn't evolved yet. Rather, the artist, Henry Kiyama seems to have closely studied "Bringing Up Father", and the art style closely follows that of the early George McManus.

The story was originally bilingual. This edition has translated the Japanese word balloons into printed English and left the original English hand-lettered
Marc Weidenbaum
This year, 2011, marks the 80th anniversary of the publication of The Four Immigrants Manga, the story of Henry (born Yoshikata) Kimaya and his four young-ish fellow Japanese who come to America around 1904. Henry's dream is to pursue art, and this book -- truly ground-breaking for its time -- is a 52-chapter autobiography in which he experiences the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, and the start of prohibition, and a whole lot in between. The notion of an autobiographical comic, even one ...more
Josephus FromPlacitas
Apr 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people interested in immigrant art, San Francisco history
Recommended to Josephus by: Datsun
Shelves: favorites
What a fun read. It had a homemade and deeply personal feel, yet seemed almost completely universal in its stories. The character designs worked well and I thought the street-level vision of old San Francisco was really compelling. The intimacy of the storytelling and the format also reached across time and culture barriers. Kiyama's short tales of hard times, hard luck and hard work communicated both the frustration of the experiences but mixed it with the humor, fanciful play and lightness of ...more
Jun 18, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Japanese-American history buffs
Shelves: manga-comics
This book is a collection of manga (comics) from early 20th century San Francisco, originally written in Japanese (with some English, too) by Kiyama, an immigrant from Japan. It follows four Japanese immigrants and their experiences (many humorous), often relating to historical events of the time, such as the 1906 earthquake, the World's Fair, World War I, etc.

The great thing about this book, is that it's history, but it's entertaining. It's like history written by people you actually could know
Nov 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: manga
Definitely not a book I would recommend to everyone. While an impressive work, and unique among comics generally and Japanese comics in particular, the writing and drawing can be better appreciated by people who enjoy early 20th Century comic strips like Bringing Up Father, Krazy Kat & Ignatz Mouse, Pollie and Her Pals, etc. If you do read it, I'd recommend reading the whole book as it will give you a much better context for this comic.
Jon(athan) Nakapalau
Aug 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a hidden gem: a graphic representation of Japanese immigration in San Francisco from 1904-1924 by someone who was part of the experience. Honest and funny it offers us a glimpse into a world that has vanished long ago - with little commentary from the Japanese who lived through the period.
Comic strips originally published in a newspaper, now collected into a book, and translated from Japanese, this is a wonderful story about Japanese immigrants about whom we rarely hear: students sent abroad to train in Western technology following the Meiji period. These four are students in San Francisco and traverse various sad and funny episodes. Highly recommended.
Oct 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Done for my class, I thought this book a great edition to my reading list. It comes the years that four immigrants spend in America after coming over from Japan. They face any hardship that new immigrants could face and went on through it. Definitely a read for anyone who likes manga or is interested in Japanese-American history.
Melanie Hughes
Nov 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels
I read this book while I was looking for representative diversity in graphic novels. There was great humor and persistence with the Japanese-American immigrants. Also interesting information about California during this time period.
May 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
a strip i new nothing of, s.f., the earthquake, ww1 all from the viewpoints of japanese immigrants to san francisco. this should be in every san francisco and central valley school library
What a lovely find in the HKU library today! I found this to be a really interesting glimpse into Japanese American immigrants’ lives in the Bay Area in the early 1900s by a Japanese artist and immigrant, Henry Yoshitaka Kiyama… right around the time that my own relatives would have arrived in California.

What I really loved were the responses to events that I’ve only read about in academic books and oral histories – to see such personal cartoons commenting on things like the Gentleman’s Agreemen
Apr 19, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: comics-manga
Done as 52 12-panel strips. The first 10 to 12 are gags that were pretty repetitive and didn't work for me. Later stories continued from strip to strip and got a little more interesting. Wasn't a fan of the art.
Sarah Leon
Mar 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Extremely interesting piece of work. Fast read and is very historical. It paints a very different picture of immigrant history that most are not aware of since it is written by a first hand Japanese immigrant.
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