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Browse > Media Type > Short Stories

80 articles

Gambling Den (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Coming of age, Disillusionment and dreams, Immigrant experience, Loss of innocence, Role of women, Temptation and destruction
  • No availability

Short story by Akemi Kikumura about a Japanese American family in Lodi, California, on the eve of World War II. Told in the first person voice of fifteen-year-old Peggy Tanaka, the story begins with the Tanaka family's fateful purchase of a restaurant in 1941. The restaurant soon becomes a success as migrant workers are drawn to both Mrs. Tanaka's cooking and the beauty of Ann, Peggy's eighteen-year-old sister. Mr. Tanaka's decision to open a gambling den in back further adds to profits, despite Mrs. Tanaka's disapproval and the necessary kick-backs to a corrupt local policeman. But the Tanakas' lives are soon to be complicated by Ann's romance with a young man of burakumin (Japanese outcaste) origin, a conniving neighbor, and the impending roundup of Japanese Americans after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

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One with the Angels (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Death – inevitable or tragedy, Facing darkness, Loss of innocence, Power of the past
  • Limited availability

Short story by Yachiyo Uehara about a young woman's death shortly after leaving the concentration camps. The story begins in the present when Saye sees an editorial cartoon in a Japanese American newspaper that laments the fact that the $20,000 reparations payments advocated by the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC) would be too late for many former inmates. She then recalls her younger sister Yoko's story and how even a fraction of that money might have changed its course. Imprisoned in Heart Mountain with her family, Yoko leaves for New York City in 1944 and soon finds a good job and a nice apartment. The widowed Saye and her young son soon join Yoko and have a joyous reunion and initially enjoy their new life. But a demanding job and active social life—including an ill-fated lover affair—drain Yoko, and she is soon diagnosed with tuberculosis, which ...

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Am I a Traitor? (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Facing reality, Nationalism – complications, Patriotism – positive side or complications
  • Available

Essay by Issei socialist journalist Shigeki Oka (1878–1959) focusing on his decision to aid the Allies and oppose the Japanese militarist regime during World War II. Oka begins by describing the situation prior to the war, where Japanese American leaders dismissed the possibility of war between the U.S. and Japan. While preparing a translation of Hitler's anti-Japanese writings to be distributed in Japan, the attack on Pearl Harbor occurs. Oka sends a telegram to President Roosevelt offering his services and expresses the desire that Japan lose the war as quickly as possible so that its militarist regime would be brought down; these actions lead to members of the Japanese American community branding him a traitor. He later volunteers to go to India despite his advanced age to write and distribute propaganda for the U.S. After the war, the Japanese community continues to shun him despite the fact that the events ...

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Sundown in Topaz (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Losing hope, Self-preservation
  • Limited availability

Short story about an Issei man in Topaz during the time of the loyalty questionnaire. Shojiro Mikawa, a grandfather from Hiroshima, is incarcerated in Topaz with his family. His close friend, Tanimoto, is among those in the camp who is organizing resistance to the questionnaire. He attends a meeting led by Tanimoto that advocates refusing to answer the questionnaire. However an informant at the meeting has reported to the camp administration the names of all who attended. Called before the camp director, Mikawa is ordered to tell what he knows about the organization of the meeting or else be sent to Tule Lake and thus separated from his family.

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The Remembered Days (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Motherhood, Wisdom of experience
  • Widely available

A grandmother tells her grandchildren about her exclusion and confinement. Told in the first person voice of the grandmother, the story is divided into three sections: (1) recalling the train ride from Tanforan to Topaz; (2) a rumination of the absurdity of the camp being dubbed the "Jewel of the Desert"; and (3) her remembrances of hearing of her son Yoshio's death while serving with the 442nd.

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