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WWII-era Japanese-American newspaper on display during weekend festival

By Keith McCord | Posted - Apr 26th, 2013 @ 8:16pm


10 photos

SALT LAKE CITY — A very old newspaper published by a local Salt Lake family that played a big role in serving the Japanese community here during most of the 1900's will be one of the featured exhibits at the annual Japan Festival in Salt Lake.

The paper was called the "Utah Nippo", and the first issue came out in 1914, put together by hand by a handful of workers right here in Salt Lake City. Saturday, Utahns can see it up close at Nihon Matsuri, the Japan festival.

Haruko Moriyasu's mother and father started "Utah Nippo" and it may have been the only privately published newspaper in the country aimed specifically for Japanese Americans. Prior to World War II, it had a circulation of about 300, and peaked at about 10,000 during and after the war.

"And it was mailed all over the Intermountain West," Moriyasu said. "Wherever there were Japanese living."


And there were people who used to write in from the re-location and internment camps and they would send news in as well.

–Haruko Moriyasu


The contents were typical for a paper— various news, local and from Japan, obituaries, ads, and even contributors.

"And there were people who used to write in from the re-location and internment camps and they would send news in as well," Moriyasu said.

The publishing was all tediously hand done. Old photos show employees hand picking, often with tweezers, individual letters and characters of type, and placing them in racks for the printer.

It was done in both English and Japanese, says Moriyasu, but the English wasn't a translation of the Japanese, they were completely separate.


We have people from as far away as Japan coming to research our collections. And it will be forgotten if we don't preserve it.

–Lorraine Crouse, Marriot Library archivist


It was usually only four pages long and the last issue was printed in 1991. Moriyasu says her mother Kuniko Teresawa worked on that final issue right up until she died.

The entire collection of the "Utah Nippo" is archived at the J. Willard Marriot Library at the University of Utah. The library has provided these items for Saturday's display. Lorraine Crouse, a Marriott library archivist, says they are lucky to have the archives.

"We have people from as far away as Japan coming to research our collections," Crouse said. "And it will be forgotten if we don't preserve it."

The old presses and equipment seen in old photos are still all stored in a building in Salt Lake and the Moriyasu family isn't sure what to do with it yet. The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday on Japantown Street (100 South) between 200 West and 300 West.

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