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Honor Bound: A Personal Journey (film)

DVD cover. Courtesy of Flower Village Films
View in the Densho Encyclopedia

Documentary film that tells the story of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team through the story of one soldier, Haruo Howard "Howe" Hanamura, and his daughter, television reporter Wendy Hanamura, who travel to Europe in October 1944 for 50th anniversary ceremonies of the liberation of Bruyeres and Biffontaine by the 442nd. The film was produced by the National Japanese American Historical Society (NJAHS) and KPIX, San Francisco, where Wendy Hanamura was a news reporter. After debuting on KPIX on March 5, 1995, it went on to be shown on over 100 PBS stations.

The project originated with the elder Hanamura's writing of his memoir, which he shared with his daughter, who was also inspired to tell his story for the sake of her then toddler son. Though initially reluctant to be a part of the project, Howe agreed after she attended an L Company reunion on Las Vegas, where his old friends willingly shared their experiences with Wendy. After getting the support of KPIX and NJAHS, she also spearheaded fundraising efforts for the approximately $350,000 project.

The film tells the story of Howe Hanamura, starting with his childhood in Alameda, California, where he grew up in a family of four. After graduating from UC Berkeley in 1941, he was working in a warehouse when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and was subsequently drafted, eventually becoming a part of the 442nd upon its formation in 1943. Meanwhile, he family was forcibly removed from their home and eventually incarcerated at the Topaz , Utah concentration camp. Interviews with fellow L Company members reveal the initial conflicts between Buddhaheads from Hawai'i and mainland Kotonks in basic training. The film then follows the unit's progress through Europe, juxtaposing interviews and historic footage with the Hanamuras' efforts to search out the sights of key battles in the present. Through the focus on one individual's story, Wendy Hanamura hoped to tell the larger story; as she told 442nd veterans at their 53rnd anniversary, "although it is the story of my father, I really hoped that in his personal remembrances, there would be something very universal, something that spoke to each one of you and each time of your experiences." [1]

Historian and film scholar Jun Xing cites Honor Bound as an important example of the "Personal Diary/Family Portrait" subgenre of Asian American documentaries, calling it "touching and emotional." [2]

Honor Bound was premiered at a San Francisco screening on February 23, 1995, prior to its television debut. Along with a study guide, NJAHS and Hanamura donated a copy of the film to every public library in California.

Authored by Brian Niiya , Densho

Might also like Journey of Honor (2001); Citizen Tanouye (2005); Honor & Sacrifice: The Roy Matsumoto Story (2013)


  1. Karleen Chinen, "442 Veterans Observe 53rd Anniversary," Hawaii Herald , Apr. 19, 1996, A-8.
  2. Jun Xing, Asian America Through the Lens: History, Representation, and Identities (Walnut Creek, Calif.: AltaMira Press, 1998), 93.
Media Details
Release Date 1995
Runtime 55 minutes
Director Joan Saffa
Producer Joan Saffa
Writer Wendy Hanamura
Starring Richard Furukawa (interviewee), Lawrence Fujii (interviewee), Lou Haddad (interviewee), James Hanley (interviewee), Tak Hashimura (interviewee), Howard Hanamura (interviewee), Hideo Higa (interviewee), Sam Ikari (interviewee), Jacob Jitchaku (interviewee), Masami "Casey" Kasadate (interviewee), Genro Kashiwa (interviewee), Ben Kitagawa (interviewee), Art Koura (interviewee), Paul Matsumoto (interviewee), Toshio Nakahara (interviewee), Ken Nihei (interviewee), Eric Saul (interviewee), Feb Yokoi (interviewee)
Music Gary Remal Malkin
Cinematography Duane Poquis
Editing Terry Kane Chinn
Studio Flower Village Films
For More Information

For More Information

Chinen, Karleen. "Honor Bound." Hawaii Herald , May 19, 1995, A-12–13.

———. "442 Veterans Observe 53rd Anniversary," Hawaii Herald , Apr. 19, 1996, A-8.

Nakao, Annie. " A Nisei Vet Recalls a War on Two Fronts ," San Francisco Chronicle , Feb. 23, 1995.

Xing, Jun. Asian America Through the Lens: History, Representation, and Identities . Walnut Creek, Calif.: AltaMira Press, 1998.