Searching for Saito
In the early 1980’s, the International Examiner printed two articles that described Saito, a Japanese immigrant elder in the 1960’s who would bring baseball equipment to a Chinatown field for children. When the games ended, he would collect the equipment and hand out candy and soda pop money. Saito was described by photographer Dean Wong and activist Donnie Chin who wrote, “We often went looking for Saito [in later years], but never found him. There was so much we wanted to say to him, to thank him for caring about street kids whom he barely knew... for being a friend.”
Curious about the story, I began researching Saito through US Census records, passenger lists, and World War II Incarceration/Relocation records. Using these sources and more I began to piece together his tale. His full name was Rinzo Saito. Now, I am creating a comic book, Searching for Saito. Daily life in Seattle’s Nihonmachi and Chinatown is a backdrop for the story of a Japanese immigrant elder who lived during an era of change from the 1910’s to 1970.
Searching for Saito, a fictional history of a Japanese elder in the first half of the 20th century, will be distributed autumn 2023.
UPDATE: A PDF preview of the work-in-progress is available below. Print copies were made available for free at the INScape ARTS Open Studio in summer of 2023.
To see a preview PDF of Searching for Saito, click here.
This project is supported by the 2022-2023 HopeCorps Award from Seattle's Office of Arts & Culture.
Additional support provided by INScape ARTS Artist in Residency program, the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian American Experience, Nisei Veterans Committee, Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple, Historical Museum at Fort Missoula, Studio Kura, and Seattle Public Libraries.
Thank you to Outdoor Asian, Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site, King County Libraries and Densho.