Japanese American Basketball Leagues


Japanese American Basketball Leagues have been a part of the Japanese-American (JA) community for generations. Today, they play an integral role in the JA experience of young Japanese Americans. The reason JA basketball leagues are important is because they serve as a very tangible connection to the JA community. This album explores JA basketball leagues from three different areas with a Japantown: San Francisco, San Jose, and Los Angeles. I discovered that the evolution of the J-Leagues mirror that of the Japanese-American community.

Japantowns have changed since the pre-war, and immediately post-war era. Where J-Town used to be a one-stop shop for Japanese goods and services, but this too is no longer necessary. There is no longer a pressing need to live and be in the community. For many busy families, they would hardly ever be in Japantown if not for a community service off such as J-League, (Japanese) boy scouts, or Buddhist church, etc.

Another aspect of the Japanese American community that has changed is the face of the Japanese-American. The community is no longer defined by people of strictly Japanese descent. It is not as clear cut as it was for the Nisei and (for the most part) the Sansei. As a result of intermarriage with other ethnicities, many self-identified Japanese-Americans are now of mixed heritage.

The Japanese community will have to grapple with idea of defining a Japanese American, a question that bleeds even into J-Leagues. If J-Leagues were formed to give Japanese-Americans a chance to play but many Yonsei and Gosei are of mixed heritage, what criteria should be used to decide who is allowed to play?

Album Type

online exhibition

hljleagues — Last modified Jun 28 2021 1:49 a.m.

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