Nothing Left in My Hands: The Issei of a Rural California Town, 1900–1942

A respected Japanese American text now back in print

Nothing Left in My Hands is a moving portrait of the lives of early Japanese immigrants in Pajaro Valley, California. Regarded as highly skilled berry growers, the Issei—first-generation Japanese immigrants—were instrumental in the development of strawberry farming in the region. Nakane interviewed those still living in the area in the early 1980s and, in Nothing Left in My Hands, used their own words to narrate their progress in America, from their lives as farmers to the trying periods of anti-immigrant legislation and banishment to internment camps during World War II, and finally to the resumption of their lives after the war.


“Nothing Left in My Hands is an engrossing and enlightening story of a California rural community in Watsonville, settled at the turn of the century by Issei immigrants from Japan. Alongside Kazuko Nakane's engaging narrative, the Issei's oral interviews movingly capture the essence of this extraordinary generation--their courage, grit, humor, and character.”

—Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, co-author of Farewell to Manzanar and author of The Legend of Fire Horse Woman


“This book includes wonderful, direct observations--warts and all--from the Issei in one farming region of California. Kazuko Nakane skillfully humanizes them, including the ones who succeeded and those who drifted into oblivion.”

—Franklin Odo, director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program


“Issei farmers come to life in this voicing of a community's history.”

—Gary Y. Okihiro, professor of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University