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Browse > Genre > Memoir

72 articles

Enemy Alien (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Displacement, Evils of racism
  • Limited availability

Bilingual memoir by Kiyo Hirano of her World War II experiences as an "enemy alien" is a rare example of an Issei woman's first-person perspective of the American concentration camps. Enemy Alien (Japanese title: Tekikoku gaijin) was translated into English by George Hirano and Yuri Kageyama and published by Japantown Arts and Media Workshop (JAM) Publications in 1983. Hirano's Japanese-English biographical account of her incarceration at the Merced Assembly Center and Amache and of her resettlement was originally written as an assignment for a creative writing class at the Japantown Arts and Media Workshop in San Francisco, and eventually published by the organization.

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Manzanar Daze and Cold Nights (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Desire to escape, Importance of community, Reunion
  • Available

Posthumously published memoir by a Nisei man about his years at Manzanar during World War II.

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Ganbatte: Sixty-year Struggle of a Kibei Worker (book)

  • Books
  • Memoir
  • Capitalism - effect on the individual, Convention and rebellion, Empowerment, Important of community, Injustice, Rights - individual and societal, Self-awareness, Working class struggles
  • Available

Kibei-Nisei labor organizer and communist shares his life story, including his unique experiences during World War II as the husband of a white woman with a mixed-race child incarcerated while he served with the Military Intelligence Service in the Pacific Theater.

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Out of the Frying Pan: Reflections of a Japanese American (book)

  • Books
  • Memoir
  • Heroism - real and perceived, Injustice
  • Available

A prominent journalist reflects on his life and career, including the difficult years during World War II during which he and his family were incarcerated because of their Japanese ancestry.

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Manzanar and Beyond (book)

  • Books
  • Memoir
  • Coming of age, Disillusionment and dreams, Displacement, Importance of community, Injustice, Rights - individual or societal
  • Available

Prominent Nisei attorney recounts his life, including his experiences as the administrator of the hospital at Manzanar concentration camp and his role in landmark legal battles advocating for redressing injustices experienced by Japanese Americans.

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39 Months at Tule Lake (book)

  • Books
  • Memoir
  • Empowerment, Importance of community, Injustice
  • Available

The diary of a white staff member at Tule Lake offers his take on the tumultuous events there after it was made a segregation center.

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By the Hands of a Working Man: A Japanese Background, a Mexican Childhood, an American Life (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12
  • Grades 7-8
  • Memoir
  • Coming of age, Companionship as salvation, Displacement, Forgiveness, Identity crisis
  • Available

Nisei landscape architect shares his life story, from his childhood in Mexico to his years working in Los Angeles-area nurseries to his wartime experiences in Manzanar and Illinois.

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"Wase Time!": A Teen's Memoir of Gila River Internment Camp (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Family – blessing or curse, Importance of community, Role of men
  • Limited availability

First person memoir by Kenneth A. Tashiro of his and his family's forced removal and incarceration at the Gila River, Arizona, concentration camp. After a brief introduction that introduces Tashiro's family, the story begins on Pearl Harbor day when Kenneth—nicknamed "Iggy"—hears about the start of the war after exiting an Abbott and Costello movie. He and his family move from Los Angeles to Del Rey in an attempt to avoid incarceration, but they are eventually removed from Sanger to Gila in August of 1942. His father, Kenji Tashiro, is a journalist, who becomes the editor of the camp newspaper, before leaving to join the army at age 37. His mother, eight months pregnant at the time of the removal, stays behind for a time, rejoining the family later with the baby girl. Twelve when he entered the camp, Tashiro's perspective is purely that of an active teenager, so there is ...

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Life behind Barbed Wire: The World War II Internment Memoirs of a Hawaii Issei (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Facing reality, Immigrant experience, Nationalism – complications, Role of men
  • Widely available

Internment memoir by Honolulu Issei publisher and community leader Yasutaro Soga. Originally published in 1948 as Tessaku seikatsu, it was translated into English by Kihei Hirai and a team of volunteers at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai'i (JCCH) and published by the University of Hawai'i Press in 2008.

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Uncle Yozo (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Disillusionment and dreams, Importance of community, Optimism – power or folly
  • No availability

Comical story by Ted Tajima about an Issei man at an unspecified concentration camp who enlivens the first Christmas in camp by elaborately playing Santa. A regular contributor of stories to the Rafu Shimpo holiday edition, Tajima taught at Alhambra High for 35 years and led their acclaimed journalism program.

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A Brother Is a Stranger (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Change versus tradition, Desire to escape, Family – blessing or curse, Immigrant experience, Individual versus society, Nationalism – complications, Power of tradition
  • Available

Memoir of a young Japanese immigrant/refugee Christian about his upbringing and travails in Japan, his journey to the U.S. and his wartime internment, and his postwar observations in Japan. Published in 1946 by the John Day Company, it was among the first books by a Japanese American to appear after the war.

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The Little Exile (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Grades 7-8
  • Memoir
  • Evils of racism, Family – blessing or curse, Female roles, Immigrant experience
  • Available

Memoir by Jeanette A. Arakawa covering her wartime incarceration at the Stockton Assembly Center and Rohwer, Arkansas, concentration camp and postwar resettlement in Denver. Though written in the first person, her name and those of others in the book have been changed.

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Looking After Minidoka: An American Memoir (book)

  • Books
  • Memoir
  • Change versus tradition, Coming of age, Displacement, Female roles, Growing up - pain or pleasure, Immigrant experience, Love and sacrifice, Overcoming - fear, weakness, vice, Power of tradition, Will to survive
  • Available

A third-generation Japanese American shares the multi-generational story of both sides of his family, from immigration to the aftermath of Pearl Harbor and wartime incarceration, to resettlement and his own childhood.

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The Legacy of a Cemetery (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Reunion, Wisdom of experience
  • Limited availability

First person reflections on a trip back to his hometown of Los Angeles by a man who had settled in New Jersey after leaving the Jerome, Arkansas, concentration camps some thirty years earlier. A visit to Evergreen Cemetery east of downtown Los Angeles brings back memories of his forced removal in 1942, remembrances of Nisei soldiers he knew who are buried there, and memories of his deceased family members.

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"Iwao-chan!" (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Everlasting love, Motherhood
  • No availability

Short story by Yachiyo Uehara about a Nisei woman's bond with her deceased Issei mother in the years after the war. As the story begins, Yachiyo is on a plane from New York to San Francisco around 1950 with her two-year-old son Andy, the first time since the war years that she would be returning to her hometown. She will be moving there, initially staying with her Issei father. She is saddened that Andy will never meet her mother, whom she last saw in 1944 when she left Heart Mountain for New York and who subsequently died after they returned to San Francisco. She is relieved that her father, who dislikes children, tolerates Andy and even seems to like him. But she is also concerned about the dangerous stairs leading to the small house. She finds that despite her death two years prior, her mother's presence permeates the house. One ...

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A Stone Cried Out: The True Story of Simple Faith in Difficult Days

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Change versus tradition, Faith versus doubt, Forgiveness, Identity crisis, Overcoming - fear, weakness, vice
  • Available

A Christian minister reflects on his life, including the difficult years he and his family spent in wartime concentration camps.

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Sleeping on Potatoes: A Lumpy Adventure from Manzanar to the Corporate Tower (book)

  • Books
  • Memoir
  • Coming of age, Desire to escape, Displacement, Facing reality, Overcoming - fear, weakness, vice, Social mobility
  • Limited availability

Memoir of a Nisei, from his early childhood as the son of a violent father and a loving mother, his experience incarcerated at Manzanar, his career as a successful physicist at Honeywell, and his years after retiring.

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My Name Is Yoshiko (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Names – power and significance, Optimism – power or folly, Role of women, Working class struggles
  • Available

Memoir of an ordinary Nisei woman that includes her wartime incarceration in American concentration camps. Yoshiko Kawaguchi (born in 1921) was the eldest daughter in a farm family in Downey, California. After attending sewing school, World War II hits and the family ends up in the horse stalls of Santa Anita, then in the Rohwer, Arkansas, concentration camp. Resettling in Michigan, she eventually gets a job at a fancy restaurant. She meets and marries a Nisei from Kaua'i and settles in Chicago, where her sisters and parents also eventually settle. Her husband becomes a mail carrier, and they adopt a girl. Later, they move to back to Downey and retire in Kaua'i.

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Kubota (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Power of silence, Wisdom of experience
  • Available

Short story/essay centering on the author's maternal grandfather, whom everyone called by his last name, Kubota. A Kibei from Hawai'i, Kubota had graduated high school in Hiroshima before returning to become a successful shopkeeper and community leader—as well as an avid fisherman—on Ō'ahu's North Shore prior to the war. Arrested by the FBI on the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Kubota was one of the relatively fortunate ones, having been taken to Honolulu for questioning, but released after just a few days. Years later, Kubota lives with the author's family in Gardena, California, and repeatedly tells the teenager his World War II story, urging him not to forget it and to be his chronicler. The author is puzzled to find that other Japanese Americans not only didn't care to hear this story but were very reluctant to talk about their wartime exclusion and incarceration. After his grandfather's death, ...

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Dear Miye: Letters Home from Japan, 1939-1946 (book)

  • Books
  • Memoir, Historical nonfiction
  • Coming of age, Companionship as salvation, Desire to escape, Displacement, Family - blessing or curse, Female roles, Identity crisis, Immigrant experience, Isolation, Loss of innocence, Overcoming - fear, weakness, vice, Self-preservation, War - glory, necessity, pain, tragedy, Will to survive
  • Available

A collection of letters written by a young Nisei woman in Japan who becomes stuck there during World War II to her best friend who is still in California.

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Beyond Loyalty: The Story of a Kibei (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Adult
  • Memoir
  • Evils of racism, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Individual versus society, Role of Religion – virtue or hypocrisy, Self – inner and outer
  • Widely available

Memoir of Kibei scholar Minoru Kiyota (1923–2013) that focuses on the difficult World War II years that saw him incarcerated in American concentration camps and eventually renouncing his U.S. citizenship. Originally published as a Japanese language autobiographical novel in 1990, it was translated and reworked into an English language memoir published in 1997 by the University of Hawai'i Press.

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Nisei Odyssey: The Camp Years (book)

  • Books
  • Memoir
  • Displacement, Facing reality, Injustice, Patriotism - positive side or complications, Rights - individual or societal, War - glory, necessity, pain, tragedy
  • Limited availability

Nisei's recollections of his experiences incarcerated in an assembly center and concentration camp during World War II as well as a recounting of various stories he remembers hearing from others both before and during the war.

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American in Disguise (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Identity crisis, Wisdom of experience
  • Available

American in Disguise is Daniel Okimoto's account of his search for identity in America and Japan. The book was originally published in 1971 by John Weatherhill, Inc, with a foreword by James Michener.

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A Taste for Strawberries: The Independent Journey of Nisei Farmer Manabi Hirasaki (book)

  • Books
  • Memoir
  • Available

The memoir of Manabi Hirasaki, a successful Nisei farmer, with reflections on experiences ranging from his childhood working on his father's farms, his family's "voluntary evacuation" to Grand Junction, Colorado, voluntary service in the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and his successes in the strawberry industry after World War II.

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Nurse of Manzanar: A Japanese American's World War II Journey (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Non Fiction, Memoir
  • Displacement, Facing reality, Importance of community, Overcoming - fear, weakness, vice, Role of women
  • Available

Edited diary of Toshiko Eto Nakamura (1910–94), a nurse who volunteered to work at the hospital in Manzanar during World War II.

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