Hisaye Yamamoto – American Author

Hisaye Yamamoto was a Japanese American author and pioneer of Asian American literature. Born in 1921 in California, she was raised in an environment that valued her cultural heritage yet was also subjected to prejudice and discrimination. Here’s all you need to know about Hisaye Yamamoto, the American author.

Hisaye Yamamoto was a Japanese-American author. She is well recognized for writing the anthology of short stories called “Seventeen Syllables and Other Stories.” Google created a Google Doodle in recognition of her commitment and societal contribution. Her writings focus mostly on themes relating to Japanese immigrants, their experiences in America, the generational divide between them and their offspring, as well as the challenging position that women then held in society.

Hisaye Yamamoto American Author



Real Name: Hisaye Yamamoto
Birth Date: 23 August 1921
Died Date: 30 January 2011
Aged: 89 Years
Birth Place: Redondo Beach, California, United States
Nationality: American
Profession: Author
Religion: Christianity
Sun sign: Virgo
Height: in feet inches – 4’ 10” – in Centimeters – 148 cm
Weight: in Kilograms – 48 kg  –  in Pounds –  105 lbs
Eye Color: Dark Brown
Body Type: Slim
College: Compton College
Marital Status: Married
Husband: Anthony DeSoto
Children: Not Known


Hisaye Yamamoto was a Japanese American author, who is widely recognized for her contributions to the Asian American literary canon. Born in Redondo Beach, California, in 1921, Yamamoto was raised in an environment where her cultural heritage was deeply valued, yet also subjected to prejudice and discrimination. These experiences shaped her writing, as she sought to give voice to the experiences of Asian Americans and to challenge the stereotypes and prejudices they faced.

Yamamoto began her writing career in the 1940s, when she was working as a newspaper reporter in Los Angeles. Her first stories were published in Pacific Citizen, a weekly newspaper for Japanese Americans. In these early pieces, Yamamoto explored themes of identity, community, and the challenges of being an Asian American in a predominantly white society. She also wrote about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, a traumatic experience that she and her family had endured.

Hisaye Yamamoto American Author 2

In the decades that followed, Yamamoto continued to write and publish, producing a body of work that includes short stories, essays, and memoirs. Her writing is known for its simplicity and clarity, as well as its honesty and emotional depth. Her stories often feature complex characters who are caught between their heritage and the demands of American society, struggling to find their place in a world that often doesn’t understand them.

One of Yamamoto’s most well-known works is the short story “Seventeen Syllables,” which was first published in 1949. The story tells of a Japanese immigrant mother and daughter who have a difficult time communicating with each other. The daughter is American-born and fluent in English, while the mother speaks only Japanese. The two are unable to bridge the gap between their different cultures and languages, leading to misunderstandings and emotional distance. This story is a powerful example of Yamamoto’s ability to capture the complexities of the Asian American experience, while also highlighting the universal themes of communication, love, and loss.

Another notable work is Yamamoto’s collection of short stories, “Seventeen Syllables and Other Stories,” which was published in 1988. This collection features many of Yamamoto’s best-known works, including “Seventeen Syllables,” as well as several other stories that explore the experiences of Japanese Americans in the years after World War II. The collection was widely praised for its poignant portrayals of the Asian American experience and for Yamamoto’s ability to bring depth and nuance to her characters.

Hisaye Yamamoto American Author 3

Hisaye Yamamoto was a pioneer of Asian American literature, whose writing continues to inspire and influence new generations of writers and readers. Her contributions to the field have been recognized with numerous awards and honors, including the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and the First Americans in the Arts Award for Literature. Her legacy continues to live on, as her writing continues to resonate with readers who are searching for stories that reflect their experiences and the experiences of their communities.

In conclusion, Hisaye Yamamoto was a visionary writer who left an indelible mark on the Asian American literary canon. Her writing is a testament to the resilience and perseverance of the human spirit, and a reminder of the power of storytelling to bring people together and help us understand our place in the world. Her legacy continues to inspire and challenge us, as we seek to build a more inclusive and understanding society.

Early Life

On August 23, 1921, Hisaye Yamamoto was born at Redondo Beach, California. She was the offspring of Japanese immigrants who farmed strawberries. She had two brothers. Yamamoto’s family traveled about as they were growing up because they were immigrants and were not permitted to own land. Yamamoto attended both Japanese and American schools, including Excelsior Union High School, for her schooling. She was fascinated by other languages. She chose French, Spanish, German, and Latin as her majors while she was a student at Compton Junior College.

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Yamamoto has always found solace in reading and writing. She read and wrote equally. She began submitting her writings, including letters and brief articles, to the English sections of local Japanese American publications. The Japanese Relocation Order was put into effect by the American administration after Japanese forces struck Pearl Harbor in 1941. Basically, it was done to pick up Japanese Americans and send them to internment camps. When Yamamoto and her family were sent to one of these camps in Poston, Arizona, she was 20 years old.

Hisaye Yamamoto Career

The Poston Chronicle, the camp newspaper, gave her her first job as a reporter and columnist. In 1943, she had two of her first literary creations published: the short story “Surely I Must Be Dreaming” and the serialized mystery “Death Rides the Rails to Poston”. Another relocation was started by the US government while they were still in camp. Along with one of her brothers, Yamamoto was moved to Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1944. She supported a wealthy widow there by working as a cook. However, when news broke that her second brother Johnny, a US army veteran, had been killed, they immediately returned to Poston.

The three years she spent at the camp changed her perspective on the world, on injustice, hatred, and differences. Her time there had a significant impact on her writing career. The camps were closed when World War II ended in 1945. Yamamoto and her family were restored to their home in Los Angeles, California. She started working for the ‘Los Angeles Tribune’ there, first as a columnist, then as an editor and a field reporter. This was a weekly publication aimed at African Americans. Her stint at Tribune allowed her to investigate racial interactions and diversify her writing.


Her works have been compared to the Japanese poetry form of haiku. Her writing style is sensitive, emotional, delicate, but also blunt and frugal, wonderfully capturing her Japanese roots while incorporating a modern twist. Seventeen Syllables was originally published in 1988, and it comprises her works written since World War II’s end. “Yoneko’s Earthquake,” “The Legend of Miss Sasagawara,” and “The Brown House” are among the essential works in this collection. These stories are about Issei (first-generation Japanese immigrants) and their Nisei offspring. These stories also make mention of Japanese detention camps during WWII.

Hisaye Yamamoto American Author 5

Her works, like ‘Seventeen Syllables’ and ‘Las Vegas Charley,’ have explored the divide between first and second generation immigrants. She also penned stories about the repression of women in Japanese and American Societies, as shown in ‘The High Heeled Shoes’. Her story ‘Yoneko’s Earthquake’ was chosen one of the Best American Short Stories in 1952. For her achievements, she received the Before Columbus Foundation’s American Book Award for lifetime accomplishment in 1986.

Personal Life

Hisaye Yamamoto married Anthony DeSoto in 1955 and moved to Los Angeles. In the early 1950s, she adopted a son and relocated to New York, where she volunteered in the Catholic worker movement. She had four more children after her marriage. DeSoto, her husband, died in 2003. Yamamoto, who had been in bad health since suffering a stroke in 2010, died peacefully in her sleep on January 30, 2011.


She wrote for the ‘Los Angeles tribune’ about a black family who suffered hostility because they were black inhabitants of an all-white area in California. Their family was burned and slaughtered on December 16, 1945. That incident disturbed her and inspired her to join the struggle for racial equality. Yamamoto left journalism after publishing ‘The High Heeled Shoes’ in 1948. It focuses on the sexual harassment that women are regularly subjected to, and she spoke out against sexism bravely.

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Hisaye Yamamoto Net Worth

She was instrumental in drawing attention to concerns plaguing Japanese immigrants, particularly in America. In reality, she received a prestigious award from the outset of her profession and became well-known worldwide. Although no exact figures about her fortune are available, it is clear that she made a good living from her successful career.

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