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Browse > Theme > Will to survive

35 articles

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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An Internment Odyssey: Haisho Tenten (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Immigrant experience, Nationalism – complications, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice, Will to survive
  • Widely available

An Internment Odyssey: Haisho Tenten is the third book in a series published by the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai'i and University of Hawai'i Press of a Hawai'i inmate's account of their incarceration experience during World War II. It represents a critical addition to Japanese American history as it provides the perspective of an Issei from Hawai'i who authorities incarcerated at multiple sites in the Islands and the mainland. The author, Kumaji Furuya , thus gives voice to some of the experiences faced by the 1,320 inmates from Hawai'i who like Furuya were often separated from their families for the duration of the war.

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21st Century Manzanar (book)

  • Books
  • Adult
  • Fiction
  • Evils of racism, Importance of community, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice, Will to survive
  • Available

Novel by Perry Miyake that imagines an early 21st century roundup of Japanese Americans and how Sansei and Yonsei would react to it.

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Hawaii, End of the Rainbow (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Immigrant experience, Injustice, Will to survive, Working class struggles
  • Available

Kazuo Miyamoto (1897–1988) was a Nisei doctor and author who was interned at various incarceration camps for the duration of World War II as a result of the publication of his observations during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945). During his incarceration at Sand Island , Miyamoto began writing Hawaii, End of the Rainbow , which took him seventeen years to complete. Although a fictional account of the experiences of Japanese immigrants spanning nearly seventy years from their arrival in the Islands to World War II, it provides key insights from a participant in these important events.

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The Cat Who Chose to Dream (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 1-2, Grades 3-5
  • Grades 1-2, Grades 3-5
  • Children's
  • Disillusionment and dreams, Facing darkness, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice, Will to survive
  • Widely available

Children's picture book about a cat who accompanies his Japanese American family to an American concentration camp during World War II.

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Barbed Wire Baseball (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 1-2, Grades 3-5
  • Grades 1-2, Grades 3-5
  • Children's
  • Empowerment, Individual versus society, Will to survive
  • Widely available

Children's picture book by Marissa Moss with illustrations by Yuko Shimizu that focuses on the true story of Kenichi Zenimura , an Issei baseball pioneer who builds a baseball field in the Gila River concentration camp.

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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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Citizen 13660 (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir, Graphic Novels
  • Displacement, Evils of racism, Expression through art, Will to survive
  • Widely available

Published in 1946 as the last camps were being shuttered, Nisei artist Miné Okubo 's illustrated eponymous memoir, Citizen 13660 , has the distinction of being the earliest, first-person, book-length account of the American concentration camp experience. Always a vigorous booster of her own work, Okubo promoted the book that came to define her career as "the first and only documentary story of the Japanese evacuation and relocation written and illustrated by one who was there." [1] All told, Okubo produced an estimated 2,000 portraits of camp life in a range of styles and materials, including ink, charcoal, and gouache, while imprisoned at the Tanforan temporary detention camp in California and the Topaz concentration camp in Utah. Okubo's voluminous output notwithstanding, it was primarily Citizen 13660' s roughly 200 line-drawings that established her standing as a major chronicler of and historic witness to the camp experience.

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China Dolls (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Companionship as salvation, Empowerment, Female roles, Forgiveness, Heartbreak of betrayal, Will to survive
  • Widely available

Historical novel by Lisa See centering on performers at Chinese themed nightclubs in San Francisco and New York in the 1930s and 1940s. One of the three main characters is a Japanese American woman passing as Chinese American.

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The Issei Prisoners of the San Pedro Internment Center (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Immigrant experience, Injustice, Losing hope, Power and corruption, Will to survive
  • Available

Novel by Stanley N. Kanzaki about Issei internees at the fictional San Pedro Internment Camp in New Mexico.

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A Place to Belong (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12
  • Grades 7-8
  • Children's, Historical Fiction
  • Coming of age, Facing darkness, Family – blessing or curse, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Loss of innocence, Will to survive
  • Widely available

Young adult novel by Cynthia Kadohata that tells the story of a Japanese American family's experience in postwar Japan from the perspective of an adolescent female protagonist.

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And Then a Rainbow (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Evils of racism, Role of women, Will to survive, Working class struggles
  • Limited availability

Memoir by a Nisei woman who renounces her citizenship at Tule Lake and lives in Japan for thirteen years before returning to the U.S.

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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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Tsuru (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Drama
  • Desire to escape, Evils of racism, Individual versus society, Will to survive
  • Widely available

Short dramatic film about an elderly Issei couple whose attempt to avoid the mass roundup of Japanese Americans during World War II is aided by a white nurse. Tsuru was a senior year project at Chapman University by Chris K. T. Bright.

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The Bracelet (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 3-5
  • Grades 1-2, Grades 3-5
  • Children's
  • Growing up – pain or pleasure, Importance of community, Self-awareness, Will to survive
  • Widely available

A children's picture book by Nisei author Yoshiko Uchida , with illustrations by Joanne Yardley, originally published in 1993. The Bracelet is a story derived from the author's own childhood experiences in an American concentration camp during World War II. The book opens as seven-year-old Emi, her mother and sister prepare to leave their home in Berkeley, California, for Tanforan , a racetrack that has been converted into a temporary camp for Japanese Americans. Emi's best friend, Laurie Madison, brings her a gold bracelet as a farewell gift, and as a reminder of the value of their friendship. Emi vows that she will never take it off, but as she helps clean out the filthy horse stable that will serve has her family's "apartment," the gold chain slips off her wrist and is lost. At first, she is desolate, but Emi eventually realizes that she does not need the bracelet ...

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Mission in Manila: The Sakakida Story (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Facing darkness, Forgiveness, Heroism – real and perceived, Will to survive
  • Limited availability

Documentary film that tells the story of Richard Sakakida , a Nisei intelligence agent in the Philippines who is captured and tortured by the Japanese during World War II and who confronts—and forgives—his torturers after the war. The film is based almost entirely on an interview with Sakakida, augmented by narrator Jerry Kay, archival footage and family photographs, and illustrations by Roberta Twidwell. The 28-minute film was produced by the Military Intelligence Service and the National Japanese American Historical Society for the Military Intelligence Service Fellowship Program.

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A More Perfect Union: Japanese Americans and the U.S. Constitution (exhibition)

  • Museum Exhibitions
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • History
  • Will to survive, Patriotism - positive side or complications, Nationalism - complications, Immigrant experience, Evils of racism
  • Widely available

In 1987, the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History (NMAH) opened A More Perfect Union: Japanese Americans and the US Constitution (MPU), an exhibition on the World War II Japanese American detention centers designed to coincide with the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution. Though the creation of an exhibition that exemplified a moment of weakness for the Constitution was opposed by some, the exhibition stayed long past its intended term and was replaced with a permanent online version even after its physical removal in 2004.

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Camp Amache: The Story of an American Tragedy (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Injustice, Will to survive
  • Available

A 2006 documentary film by Don Dexter about the American concentration camp located in southwest Colorado, where more than 7,000 Japanese Americans were held during World War II. Amache was one of ten camps established in 1942 to incarcerate over 120,000 Japanese Americans who were forced from their West Coast homes. The film mixes interviews and personal stories with historic and contemporary photos and footage of the camp and surrounding area. Some of the featured stories include journalist Bill Hosokawa , author Gil Asakawa, and John Hopper, a teacher at Granada High School, who has incorporated the story of Amache into his curriculum and started the Amache Preservation Society with his students.

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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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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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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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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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Heart Mountain: Three Years in an Internment Camp (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Injustice, Will to survive
  • Available

A short documentary film from 1997 that documents the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans at the American concentration camp in Heart Mountain , Wyoming. The film also documents daily life for the Japanese American incarcerees, who endured living in rough barracks, surrounded by barbed wire in sub-zero temperatures and dust storms, as well as the political and personal conflicts that arose with the government-issued " loyalty questionnaire " and draft resistance . In addition to interviews with former inmates and local residents, the film uses previously unseen footage from the camp. The film was produced by KCSM, a San Mateo, California, public television station as part of The New Americans series and was directed by Dianne Fukami, with David Hosley serving as executive producer. It was originally titled Heart Mountain: Three Years in a Relocation Center . Funders for the documentary included the Chevron Corporation, the Henri and ...

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Japanese American Detention Camps: Stories of Strength and Hope (play)

  • Plays
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Quest for discovery, Power of the past, Evils of racism, Will to survive
  • Limited availability

Storytelling performance by Megumi in which she tells stories of the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans from the perspective of various characters. Based on interviews with Japanese American former inmates, she has been performing Japanese American Detention Camps since 1997.

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Mackerel Sky (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Communication – verbal and nonverbal, Immigrant experience, Will to survive, Working class struggles
  • No availability

Short story by Jeff Matsuda in which a young Sansei man recalls various stories about his Issei grandfather: visiting him and his grandmother when he was a child; recreating the old man talking about his youth in Japan and his early years as a laborer in the U.S.; and visiting him with his mother when he was in college, and his grandfather was a nearly deaf old man. In the process, the narrator recalls his grandfather's internment: as a fisherman on Terminal Island , he was arrested a week after Pearl Harbor and sent to Bismarck and then to an unspecified camp in New Mexico, while the rest of his immediate family spent the war years in Japan.

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