Shirley Temple, Hotcha-cha (short story)
Creators: Wakako Yamauchi
Short story by Wakako Yamauchi about a Nisei strandee couple and their difficulties both in wartime Japan and in the resettlement era U.S. Told in the first-person voice of Mie, the story begins in 1939 when Mie is seventeen. As was the case for a sizable minority of Nisei youth, she had been sent to Japan for her education, having arrived there three years prior. She attends a boarding school and spends holidays with the Kodamas, a wealthy childless couple who are family friends. On a holiday, she meets Jobo Endo, a fellow Nisei, who is in Japan attending college. Courtship ensues. Recognizing the difficulties they would face in Japan as the war heats up, Jobo suggests that Mie ask the Kodamas for money to return to the U.S. However, the Kodamas had hoped to marry off Mie to a grand nephew. Though they consent to Jobo and Mie getting married, they are stuck in Japan as it enters war with the U.S. Facing hunger and other hardships, Jobo and Mie survive the war. Meanwhile, their families in the U.S. are sent to concentration camps; Mie's father dies in camp. Both families "resettle" in the Midwest, and Mie's family sends them money that allows them to return. But the time away had damaged relationships, and short stints with both families fail to work out. Eventually they move to California, where Jobo finds sudden success as an agent in the booming real estate market. But that success leads to the couple drifting apart, and Jobo eventually leaves Mie for another woman. The title of the story comes from a Shirley Temple doll that her family sent her in Japan that comes to represent her lost American life.
"Shirley Temple, Hotcha-cha" first appeared in the 1979 Rafu Shimpo holiday edition and was reprinted in Yamauchi's first short story collection, Songs My Mother Taught Me: Stories, Plays, and Memoir , in 1994.
For More Information
Yamauchi, Wakako. "Shirley Temple, Hotcha-cha." Rafu Shimpo , Dec. 20, 1979, 7+. Reprinted in Wakako Yamauchi, Songs My Mother Taught Me: Stories, Plays, and Memoir , edited and with an introduction by Garrett Hongo, afterword by Valerie Milner (New York: Feminist Press at the City University of New York, 1994): 109–21.