Tooru Kanazawa

Name Tooru Kanazawa
Born November 12 1906
Died October 2 2002
Birth Location Spokane, Washington
Generational Identifier


Journalist and novelist. Pioneering Nisei writer Tooru Kanazawa (1906–2002) chronicled the lives of Japanese Americans in Alaska in his 1989 novel Sushi and Sourdough , published when he was eighty-three years old. Born in Spokane, Washington, he moved with his family to Juneau, Alaska, as a child, where his father worked as a barber. He attended the University of Washington, graduating in 1931 with a journalism degree, but like other Nisei , was unable to find employment in the mainstream world and worked for the Rafu Shimpo newspaper in Los Angeles. He moved to New York in 1940 to pursue work as a journalist, thus avoiding the mass incarceration of West Coast Japanese Americans. He became active in the Japanese American Citizens League , and in the Japanese American Committee for Democracy . In 1943, he volunteered for the 442nd Regimental Combat Team at age 36, serving as a radio operator for two years. Settling in New York City after the war, he made his living in the travel industry while continuing to write for the vernacular press. In addition to Sushi and Sourdough, which draws on his childhood memories to tell the story of a Japanese American family in Alaska, he also authored a history of the 442nd's cannon company.

Authored by Brian Niiya , Densho

For More Information

Kanazawa, Tooru J. "After Pearl Harbor: New York City." Common Ground (March 1942): 13–14. .

———. Sushi and Sourdough: A Novel . Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1989.

———. Close Support: A History of the Cannon Company of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team . S.I.: Cannon Company, 442nd RCT, c1993.

Lawsin, Emily. "Tooru J. Kanazawa." In Encyclopedia of Japanese American History: An A-to-Z Reference from 1868 to the Present, Updated Edition . Edited by Brian Niiya. New York: Checkmark Books 2001. 235.

Woo, Elaine. "Tooru Kanazawa, 95; Served in Famed WWII Unit." Los Angeles Times , October 13, 2002. .

Last updated June 24, 2020, 4:32 p.m..