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Browse > Theme > Family – blessing or curse

49 articles

Changing Season: On the Masumoto Family Farm (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Circle of life, Family – blessing or curse, Man against nature, Wisdom of experience
  • Limited availability

Documentary film that follows a Japanese American farm family over the course of a year at their Central California farm.

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Looking Like the Enemy: My Story of Imprisonment in Japanese-American Internment Camps (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir, Children's
  • Evils of racism, Facing darkness, Family – blessing or curse, Injustice, Loss of innocence, Power of the past
  • Widely available

Incarceration memoir of life at Pinedale Assembly Center, Tule Lake, and Minidoka, by Mary Matsuda Gruenewald, a seventeen-year-old Nisei at the time of her and her family's forced removal from their Washington state farm. First published in 2005 by NewSage Press, it was followed by a young reader's edition in 2010.

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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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Silver Like Dust (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Evils of racism, Family – blessing or curse, Power of the past, Role of women
  • Widely available

Memoir published in 2011 centering on the author's grandmother, who slowly tells the author the story of her life and incarceration at Heart Mountain, over the course of several visits with the author. Her grandmother's detailed narrative from the perspective of a young woman of twenty when the war breaks out—the happy childhood in Los Angeles, the shock of war and forced removal, meeting her husband at the Pomona Assembly Center, marrying in camp, and having her first child there, before resettling in Seabrook Farms, New Jersey—is contrasted with the author's vastly different life as a contemporary young woman of roughly the same age when she begins the project. Having grown up in Pennsylvania, apart from her grandmother in Florida, the visits also allow the two women to really get to know each other for the first time. The book includes various brief historical snippets that provide the larger context ...

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Starting from Loomis (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Coming of age, Evils of racism, Family – blessing or curse, Injustice
  • Widely available

Autobiographical short story by Hiroshi Kashiwagi that traces his life from his childhood on farms in the Loomis, California, area, his family's forced removal and incarceration at the Marysville Assembly Center (which Kashiwagi refers to as "Arboga," an alternative name) and Tule Lake, and his decision to answer "no-no" to the loyalty questionnaire both out of anger and protest and in alignment with the rest of his family. While describing the difficult conditions of concentration camp life, the narrator—who was two years out of high school at the time—takes his first tentative steps in the world of theater and literature while in camp. His father's absence from the family from prior to the war due to tuberculosis looms large. Written from the perspective of an old man looking back at his youth, the story ends with the lifelong ramifications of his wartime incarceration and his "no-no boy" status.

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Two Homelands (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Death – inevitable or tragedy, Emptiness of attaining a false dream, Evils of racism, Family – blessing or curse, Heroism – real and perceived, Individual versus society, Nationalism – complications, Patriotism – positive side or complications, Vulnerability of the strong
  • Widely available

Epic three volume novel by best-selling Japanese novelist Toyoko Yamasaki that centers on the identity dilemmas of a Kibei man during and immediately after World War II. Published in Japan in 1983, it was adapted into a popular Japanese television drama the following year. Alarmed by reports that the novel/TV show portrayed Japanese Americans as having split loyalties, Japanese American leaders succeeded in preventing the TV drama from being shown in the continental U.S. In 2007, the University of Hawai'i Press published an English language translation by V. Dixon Morris under the title Two Homelands.

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One-Two-One-Seven (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Family – blessing or curse, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Power of the past
  • Widely available

Documentary film by Brett Kodama about the experiences of his grandmother, Sharon Shizuko Okazaki Kodama, at Manzanar. Just three years old when she and her family were forcibly removed from their Southern California home and sent to Manzanar, Okazaki Kodama's Issei father killed her Kibei mother in September 1942. She and her older sister spent the rest of the war at the Manzanar Children's Village, the camp orphanage. They were raised after the war by an aunt and uncle in Washington state. Okazaki Kodama recalls her memories of the camp and the orphanage, talks about her parents' deaths and reflects on the impact on the incarceration over visuals that include archival photographs and footage, photographs from her own family album, and images of the Manzanar National Historic Site today. The title refers to the Okazaki's family number at Manzanar.

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Little Women (A Multicultural Transposition) (play)

  • Plays
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Coming of age, Desire to escape, Family – blessing or curse, Female roles, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice
  • No availability

Play by Velina Hasu Houston that reimagines Louis May Alcott's 19th century novel Little Women, setting it in early postwar Los Angeles with four Japanese American sisters at its center.

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Old Man River (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Biography, History
  • Family – blessing or curse, Power of the past, Power of silence, Quest for discovery
  • Available

Filmed version of Cynthia Gates Fujikawa's one-woman play of the same name about her search to unearth the secrets in the life of her father, actor Jerry Fujikawa. The play premiered in New York in 1997. Gates and documentary film director Allan Holzman filmed her performances during the run of the play in Los Angeles in early 1998. To try to recapture the effect of Fujikawa talking directly to the audience, Holzman positioned cameras on stage that she could talk into and added additional historic photographs and video. Premiering later in 1998, the film version went to play in various film festivals, community screenings and Days of Remembrance in succeeding years. The DVD version of the film also includes Fujikawa's 2003 documentary, Day of Remembrance.

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Farewell to Manzanar (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Coming of age, Displacement, Evils of racism, Family – blessing or curse, Working class struggles
  • Widely available

Popular memoir that tells the story of one family's forced removal and confinement at Manzanar through the eyes of a young girl. First published in 1973, Farewell to Manzanar has sold over one million copies and is one of the most widely read accounts of Japanese American incarceration and its aftermath.

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A Girl Like You (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Coming of age, Evils of racism, Family – blessing or curse, Importance of community, Motherhood, Quest for discovery, Role of women
  • Available

Coming-of-age novel by Maureen Lindley that takes place largely in Manzanar and whose protagonist is a mixed-race Sansei girl.

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After the Bloom (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Family – blessing or curse, Power of silence, Power of the past, Role of women
  • Widely available

Novel by Japanese Canadian author Leslie Shimotakahara about the sudden disappearance of a Nisei woman in Toronto and her Sansei daughter's search for her and her own past.

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Best Friends Forever: A World II Scrapbook (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 3-5, Grades 7-8
  • Grades 3-5, Grades 7-8
  • Children's, Historical Fiction
  • Everlasting love, Family – blessing or curse, Injustice, Rights - individual or societal
  • Widely available

Children's book about the friendship between a German American girl and her forcibly removed Japanese American friend in the form of a scrapbook from the year 1942.

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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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Bridge of Scarlet Leaves (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Romance, Historical Fiction
  • Communication – verbal and nonverbal, Everlasting love, Family – blessing or curse, Heroism – real and perceived, Love and sacrifice
  • Widely available

Novel by Kristina McMorris that centers on an interracial romance between a white woman and a Nisei man during World War II.

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Doka B-100 (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Character – destruction, building up, Family – blessing or curse, Importance of community, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice, Working class struggles
  • Widely available

Short story by Ernest Nagamatsu on the difficult adjustment to civilian life of a group of World War II veterans. Written in the first person voice of an ex-GI named Hamamoto in 1954, "Doka B-100" coveys both Hamamoto's alienation and the welcoming embrace of Little Tokyo Los Angeles. Estranged from his domineering father because of the way he left the service (despite serving heroically in the 442nd, he quit before his time was up) and his choice of social work as an occupation, Hamamoto's wife had decided to go back to her family in Chicago with their daughter to get away from the arguments. Finding a small apartment in Little Tokyo and a part time job in a diner, he finds a niche in starting to counsel the veterans who would gather in a Little Tokyo pool hall. That work eventually leads to a paying job with the Veterans Administration. ...

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Fox Drum Bebop (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Family – blessing or curse, Immigrant experience, Power of words
  • Widely available

Novel by Gene Oishi that tells the saga of the Konos, a Japanese American farming family from coastal California, covering the years 1940 to 1982. Largely based on the author's own life and family, each chapter is a stand alone short story set in a particular time period. Early chapters covering the prewar years and the upheavals of World War II are told from the perspective of different family members, while later chapters covering the postwar years are largely through the perspective of Hiroshi, the character based on the author. Fox Drum Bebop was published by Kaya Press in 2014 and received the 2016 Association for Asian American Studies book award in the Creative Writing: Prose category.

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In Search of Hiroshi (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Family – blessing or curse, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice, Power of the past
  • Available

Memoir by Nisei journalist Gene Oishi published by Charles E. Tuttle in 1988.

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The Legend of Fire Horse Woman (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Female roles, Family – blessing or curse, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice
  • Widely available

Novel by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston published in 2003 that is set in large part in Manzanar.

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Suitcase Sefton and the American Dream (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Everlasting love, Family – blessing or curse, Importance of community, Injustice
  • Widely available

Novel by Jay Feldman about a New York Yankees scout who discovers a hot Nisei pitching prospect in an American concentration camp during World War II.

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The Harvest of Hate (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Evils of racism, Family – blessing or curse, Loss of innocence, Patriotism – positive side or complications
  • Available

Novel focusing on one Japanese American family's forced removal and incarceration written by a former teacher at Poston. Originally written in 1946, The Harvest of Hate first saw publication forty years later.

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Tule Lake (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Evils of racism, Family – blessing or curse, Importance of community, Individual versus society
  • Available

Novel by Edward Miyakawa set in the eponymous concentration camp. Tule Lake was likely the first novel by a Japanese American set in one of the World War II concentration camps to be published when it first appeared in 1979. It was also notable for its unflinching portrayal of life in the most repressive of the camps.

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Bend with the Wind: The Life, Family, and Writings of Grace Eto Shibata (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Circle of life, Family – blessing or curse, Female roles, Power of tradition
  • Available

Memoir of a Nisei woman—though written in the third person—that covers a nearly one hundred year history of a prominent San Luis Obispo area farming family and that ends with the author's graduation from college at age seventy-four.

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Dandelion Through the Crack/Kiyo's Story (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Evils of racism, Family – blessing or curse, Female roles, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice, Wisdom of experience
  • Widely available

Memoir by a Nisei woman of farm life in Sacramento, her family's wartime incarceration, and their struggles to reestablish their lives after the war.

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