Though I Be Crushed: The Wartime Experiences of a Buddhist Minister (book)
Translated memoir of an Issei Buddhist priest focusing on his wartime incarceration at several camps.
Though I Be Crushed —a reference to a Buddhist scripture—begins with a first person biographical prologue outlining Fujimura's life prior to the war. Rev. Bunya Fujimura was born in Gifu Prefecture, Japan, in 1910 and grew up the son of a Buddhist priest, eventually studying for the priesthood himself. Upon his graduation in 1934, he is assigned to the Salinas Buddhist Temple in 1935, becoming an assistant priest in charge of Japanese language schools. He eventually returns to Japan to marry and become head minister in 1940.
The main body of the book covers his wartime experience: his arrest in February of 1942, his initial questioning and imprisonment in Salinas and San Francisco, and his odyssey to various camps over the next three years: Bismarck, North Dakota ; Camp McCoy, Wisconsin ; Livingston, Louisiana ; Santa Fe, New Mexico ; and finally, Poston, Arizona , where he is reunited with his wife. After the war, he is still individually excluded from the West Coast, so he goes to Chicago, eventually returning to Salinas in 1946. The account ends with his transfer to the West Los Angeles temple in 1957. A detailed chronology outlines the rest of his life and career.
According to the book's foreword, its origin stems from an acquaintance, Rev. Jo-in Kihara, who wrote about things American for Japanese publications and became interested in writing about Fujimura's life. Interviewing Fujimura extensively, he published his account in a Buddhist magazine in Japan, and it was later serialized in the Los Angeles based Kashu Mainichi newspaper. Fujimura later rewrote Kihara's account in his own works, which was then translated into English by Ken'ichi Yokogawa. Its publication was subsidized by the Hada Brothers, close friends. Prohibited from keeping a diary at the time, it is based on his memories of the time.
Might also like: An Internment Odyssey: Haisho Tenten by Kumaji Furuya; Tule Lake: An Issei Memoir by Noboru Shirai; Life behind Barbed Wire: The World War II Internment Memoirs of a Hawaii Issei by Yasutaro Soga