Memoirs of a Certain Nisei (book)
Creators: Thomas Taro Higa
Book cover. Courtesy of Higa Publications
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Posthumously published memoir by Kibei war hero Thomas Taro Higa , translated from its original Japanese and published in 1988. The vast majority of the book covers events taking place during World War II.
Divided into six chapters, Memoirs of a Certain Nisei begins with Higa's birth in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1916 to immigrants from Okinawa and his subsequent upbringing in Okinawa, Kahalu'u (on the windward side of the island of Ō'ahu), and Tokyo. Returning to Hawai'i in 1939, he is drafted in 1941 and becomes an original member of the 100th Infantry Battalion . Despite being in the army, he is still harassed by the FBI because of his prewar life in Japan. Higa devotes a chapter to the basic training of the 100th at Camp McCoy , Wisconsin, and at Camp Shelby , Mississippi, another to his time on the front in Italy where he is twice wounded, and a third to his convalescence in Colorado, where, as one of the first Nisei soldiers to return from Europe, he finds himself pressed into giving speeches on his experiences and visiting Amache . The longest chapter, making up some forty percent of the book, describes his subsequent six month lecture tour in the second half of 1944 sponsored by the War Relocation Authority (WRA), army, and Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) that sees him tour nearly the entire country and nine of the ten WRA camps covering forty states and some 23,000 miles. Higa describes the various places he visits and the people he meets along the way, though he writes little about the content of his talks, mostly citing a later article by his translator, Mitsugu Sakihara. A very brief final chapter covers focuses on his later journey to Okinawa in 1945 after the Allies had taken it, in an attempt to talk as many Okinawans as possible into surrendering, and his later courtship and marriage. Other than his marriage, there is next to nothing on his postwar life.
In Higa's preface to the book, he characterizes himself as a "misfit" and a reluctant writer, and writes that he wrote the book only through the encouragement of friends. It was published in 1982 as Aru Nisei no wadachi . Mitsugu Sakihara translated it into English that was subsequently edited by Elsie Higa Taniguchi and published in 1988, after Higa's passing in 1985.
Might also like Manzanar and Beyond: Memoirs of Frank F. Chuman by Frank F. Chuman; Desert Exile by Yoshiko Uchida; The Kikuchi Diary: Chronicle from an American Concentration Camp by Charles Kikuchi