Karate Featured in Nisei Vue Japanese American Pictorial Magazine in May, 1949

A native of Shuri, Okinawa, Kanken Toyama (1888-1966) was born of hereditary nobility and began his martial arts training as a youth with such luminaries as Anko Itosu (Shuri-te, predecessor of Shorin-ryu and Shotokan), Kanryo Higashionna (Naha-te, predecessor of Goju-ryu), and Ankichi Arakaki (Tomari-te, predecessor of Matsubayashi-ryu). A schoolteacher by trade, at forty-two years of age he relocated to Tokyo to establish a karate dojo called Shudokan.

Toyama2This brief article was featured in a 1949 issue of Nisei Vue, a photographic Japanese American lifestyle magazine published in Chicago, IL. One of the earliest reports of karate in English, it may have been the first report by and for the mainland Nisei (second generation Japanese Americans) about the art form, which was effectively unknown to the non-Okinawan Nikkei community prior to Tsutomu Ohshima’s introduction of Shotokan to Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo community during the annual Nisei Week celebration in 1957.

Toyama1Courtesy of Densho – www.densho.org – who has archived Nisei Vue and Scene magazines online.

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