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Browse > Theme > Facing reality

23 articles

A Century of Change: The Memoirs of Nellie Yae Sumiye Nakamura from 1902 to 2002 (book)

  • Books
  • Memoir
  • Coming of age, Death - inevitable or tragedy, Disillusionment and dreams, Displacement, Facing reality, Family - blessing or curse, Immigrant experience, Injustice, War - glory, necessity, pain, tragedy
  • Available

The recollections of a Nisei woman, from her childhood in the Santa Clara Valley, to her marriage, her family's incarceration at Santa Anita and Heart Mountain, and their efforts to rebuild their lives back in California after the war ended.

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Letters from the 442nd: The World War II Correspondence of a Japanese American Medic (book)

  • Books
  • Historical Nonfiction
  • Communication - verbal and nonverbal, Companionship as salvation, Death - inevitable or tragedy, Displacement, Facing reality, War - glory, necessity, pain, tragedy, Will to survive
  • Available

Letters sent by a medic in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team serving in Europe to his wife incarcerated at Minidoka concentration camp during World War II.

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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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The Sensei (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Facing reality, Nationalism – complications, Reunion
  • Widely available

Short story by Wakako Yamauchi centering on a former Buddhist priest whose gambling addiction has turned him into a beggar in the early postwar years. Told in the first person by a Nisei woman named Utako, the story begins with the outbreak of war and the then seventeen-year-old Utako's incarceration with her family in an Arizona concentration camp. The loyalty questionnaire divides the family, as her brother Toshio becomes a "no-no boy" and gets sent alone to Tule Lake. There, he becomes friends with Jim Morita, a fellow "no-no." After the war, the family returns to Los Angeles, and Utako ends up marrying Jim; she works as a painter of shower curtains, while he attends college. A couple of years later, Jim and Utako visit Las Vegas. On their way out, they run into the title character, a former Buddhist priest who had been a powerful inmate leader in post-segregation ...

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The Day After Today (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Facing reality, Losing hope
  • Widely available

Very short story by Toshio Mori (called "A Sketch") about an Issei man at Topaz who worries about what will happen to him and his wife when they are forced to leave the camp, since they have no children to help support them. He envies neighbors who have resettled children they can stay with in the Midwest and East. Published in the Pacific Citizen in February of 1945, the story captured the anxiety many Japanese Americans felt with news that the concentration camps would be closing by the end of the year.

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Made in Japan and Settled in Oregon (book)

  • Books
  • Memoir
  • Coming of age, Displacement, Evils of racism, Facing reality, Growing up - pain or pleasure, Isolation
  • Available

An Oregon-born Nisei woman shares her family's story, including her parents' efforts to establish a farm in Hood River, her childhood, and the impact of being taken from their home and incarcerated during World War II.

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Private Life (book)

  • Books
  • Historical Fiction
  • Facing reality, Identity crisis, Female roles, Disillusionment and dreams
  • Available

A middle-aged white woman recounts her friendship with a Japanese American family she first meets through personal tragedy; the injustice they experience, partly as a result of her own husband, leads her to a personal awakening.

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The Kikuchi Diary: Chronicle from an American Concentration Camp (book)

  • Books
  • Historical Nonfiction
  • Coming of age, Displacement, Facing reality, Family - blessing or curse, Self-awareness
  • Available

The diary of Charles Kikuchi, a Nisei, and his observations about the chaos for Japanese Americans in the Bay Area after the bombing of Pearl Harbor as well as life in Tanforan Assembly Center.

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Floating Home (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Facing reality, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Reunion, Working class struggles
  • Widely available

Short story about a family returning to Little Tokyo from Rohwer. When fourteen-year-old Mari returns home with her parents, she expects to go to their old house, but is dismayed when they go to a run down residential hotel instead. Her father explains to her that they had rented the house they had lived in before the war, and they it was now being rented to someone else. Mari decides to walk to the house to take a last look. She finds an African American girl about her age on the swing in front. Initially suspicious, the girl becomes friendlier when Mari tells her why she and her family had to leave and invites her inside.

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Makapuu Bay (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Disillusionment and dreams, Facing reality, Lost love, Names – power and significance, Reunion
  • Widely available

Short story by Wakako Yamauchi about a divorced middle-aged Japanese American writer who goes to a literary conference in Honolulu where she runs into an old boyfriend from the war years. In flashback, we learn that Sachiko—nicknamed "Pinky" while incarcerated in Poston with her father—had met Mitch Ochiai at the camp swimming hole, where she asked him to teach her to swim. They become a couple and continue to see each other when she resettles in Chicago while he attends the Military Intelligence Service Language School in Minnesota. But her father's illness—and eventual death—forces her to return to Poston, while Mitch heads off to war, and they lose touch. Sachiko ends up marrying Joe Noda, her block manager, and settling in Los Angeles. Though Sachiko is divorced and Mitch has never married, a rekindling of the romance in Hawai'i is not to be.

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

  • 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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Picture Bride (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Adult
  • Historical fiction
  • Change versus tradition, Disillusionment and dreams, Displacement, Facing reality, Female roles, Immigrant experience, Importance of community, Will to survive
  • Available

The fictional account of a picture bride, from her arrival in the U.S. to the life she and her husband create for themselves with their daughter, to her experience of incarceration during 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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Snow Falling on Cedars (book)

  • Books
  • Historical fiction
  • Coming of age, Convention and rebellion, Desire to escape, Displacement, Facing reality, Family - blessing or curse, Fear of other, Immigrant experience, Importance of community, individual versus society, Power of the past
  • Available

A World War II veteran reporting for his small town newspaper covers the trial of a local Japanese American man charged with murder while he struggles with his complicated feelings for the defendant's wife, his first love.

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When Your Body Has Been Rolled in Thorns (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Evils of racism, Facing reality, Loss of innocence, Will to survive
  • Widely available

Short story by Ferris Takahashi about a Japanese American family leaving a concentration camp to return to their old home in Los Angeles. Told from the perspective of a college educated Nisei husband and father of two young children, the story begins as they gather up their possessions and prepare to leave the camp. Yosh, a friend who had returned earlier and was able to reestablish his business, greets them at the train station. When they return to their home, they find it trashed and vandalized, with all the furniture gone. They also learn that the Buddhist temple in which they had stored other possessions had burned down. Yosh and his family offer to put them up until they can fix their house. Returning to look more closely at the house after dinner, the man and his Issei mother find racist graffiti. His mother assures him that they will rebound.

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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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Blue Skies and Thunder: Farm Boy, Pilot, Inventor, TSA Officer, and WWII Soldier of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team (book)

  • Books
  • Memoir
  • Coming of age, Death - inevitable or tragedy, Disillusionment and dreams, Displacement, Facing reality, Family - blessing or curse, Injustice, Loss of innocence, Overcoming - fear, weakness, vice, War - glory, necessity, pain, tragedy
  • Available

Mixed race Nisei shares his story, from a tough childhood growing up on a farm in the Midwest to his experiences in combat with the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion during World War II.

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Chikara!: A Sweeping Novel of Japan and America From 1907 to 1983 (book)

  • Books
  • Historical Fiction
  • Change versus tradition, Coming of age, Death - inevitable or tragedy, Disillusionment and dreams, Displacement, Emptiness of attaining a false dream, Evils of racism, Facing reality, Family - blessing or curse, Forgiveness, Greed as downfall, Fate and free will, Heartbreak of betrayal, Heroism - real and perceived, Immigrant experience, Individual versus society, Inner versus outer strength, Lost honor, Lost love, Nationalism - complications, Patriotism - positive side or complications, Power of the past, Will to survive
  • Available

This work of historical fiction traces the tumultuous rise and fall of the Hoshi family, whose scion, Sataro, takes his wife Itoko and eldest son Noboru to California in 1907 to seek his fortune and restore his family's honor. He leaves his second son Hiroshi behind with family, a decision that marks the inauspicious first step of the tragic transpacific drama that unfolds over the course of the novel.

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Imprisoned Apart: The World War II Correspondence of an Issei Couple (book)

  • Books
  • Non Fiction
  • Displacement, Facing darkness, Facing reality, Immigrant experience, Isolation, Will to survive
  • Available

An intimate history of one Issei couple's experience of World War II, including transcriptions of the letters they sent each other when they were incarcerated apart.

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Kibei (book)

  • Books
  • Historical Fiction
  • Change versus tradition, Disillusionment and dreams, Displacement, Facing reality, Identity crisis
  • Available

The saga of a Kibei Nisei confronting prejudice and his own conflicted identity as his and his family’s lives are irreparably transformed by the wartime incarceration of Japanese Americans.

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Nasakenai (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Evils of racism, Facing reality, Will to survive, Working class struggles
  • Limited availability

Short story about an Issei couple in the San Francisco Bay area in the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Both work as servants—the husband as a gardener and the wife as a maid—for prominent white families in a wealthy adjacent community and support three children at home, with a son in the army. After the attack, the husband goes to work and is assured by his employer that she will not fire him despite community pressure to do so. But the wife, who has worked for the family of a prominent lawyer for over a decade, is fired, since the lawyer represents a farming organization that supports anti-Japanese actions. An Issei gardener who works for the same family is also fired. Afterwards, the wife visits briefly with the family of the gardener and goes home to work on her garden, vowing that things will be okay.

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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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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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