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Two Homelands

Two Homelands

Toyoko Yamasaki
Translation by V. Dixon Morris
Copyright Date: 2008
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    Two Homelands
    Book Description:

    Two Homelands (Futatsu no sokoku) tells the powerful story of three brothers during the years surrounding World War II. From the attack on Pearl Harbor to the Pacific War, relocation to Manzanar, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, and the Tokyo war crimes trials, we follow the lives of Kenji, Tadashi, and Isamu Amo, the California-born sons of Japanese immigrants. The eldest, Kenji, must grapple with what it means to belong to two nations at war with one another and to face betrayal by both. Tadashi, in school in Japan when war breaks out, is drafted into the Japanese army and renounces his U.S. citizenship. Later Kenji and Tadashi find themselves on opposite sides of a battlefield in the Philippines; although they both survive the conflict, their relationship is destroyed by the war. Isamu, the youngest and the most thoroughly American of the brothers, loves John Wayne movies and gives his life to rescue the lost Texas battalion fighting in France. Popular Japanese novelist Toyoko Yamasaki spent five years interviewing Japanese-Americans and researching documentary sources to assemble the raw material for her book. Through the story of the Amo family, she forces readers to confront the meaning of "love of country" as her characters encounter prejudice and suspicion on both sides of the Pacific. Almost a quarter century after its Japanese publication, this English-language translation affords a valuable opportunity to understand the postwar reassessment of what it means to be Japanese in the modern world.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6534-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. 1 Jap
    (pp. 1-42)

    In the Arizona desert only the sun and the sand were alive.

    Beneath a sky so intensely blue it was ominous, the parched desert stretched endlessly, with sagebrush and ironwood clinging to the surface of an earth utterly dry and devoid of any green.

    The sand, scorched by the fiery sun, moved soundlessly through the bushes, following the direction of the wind and tracing wavelike patterns. Though only a breeze was stirring, billows of sand arose in the red desert as much as a mile ahead where not a single sagebrush grew. In the desolate Arizona desert, where all came...

  4. 2 Camp
    (pp. 43-74)

    At the Santa Anita Racetrack busses labeled “Special” arrived one after another, its broad parking lot a welter of people and baggage. The people were Nikkei from the Los Angeles vicinity who had been ordered to evacuate the area. Ranging in age from children to the elderly, long, narrow tags dangled from around their necks, with similar tags affixed to the suitcases they carried in each hand. War Relocation Authority (WRA) officials explained that the reason they were assigning numbers to each family was simply to avoid confusion, but those wearing the tags diverted their gaze from one another and...

  5. 3 Sandstorm
    (pp. 75-119)

    The twenty-three-car train filled with Nikkei left Los Angeles Union Station and six hours later was still running across the desert. It was an odd aggregation of broken-down old cars from twenty years ago and newer passenger coaches six or seven years old. Burning coal, it climbed hills of black debris, traversed plains to which pale-green sagebrush were clinging like specks, and finally reached a wilderness where clumps of cactus grew. All the while it seemed to pant as it moved sluggishly along.

    Now it was running northeast across the Mojave Desert, including Death Valley, in the interior of California...

  6. 4 Nisei
    (pp. 120-168)

    By early November the Mojave Desert, in which the camp at Manzanar was situated, quickly and thoroughly chilled with the peaks of the Sierra Nevada wrapped in fresh snow.

    In the camp amid the dancing sand and dust somehow lawns and flower beds appeared, young trees took root, and, for better or worse, ten thousand Nikkei fashioned a sense of community. The hastily constructed barracks covered with black tar paper had faded in the fierce summer sunlight, but curtains of various colors hung in the windows and smoke from coal-fired heating stoves rose from the chimney pipes that poked through...

  7. 5 A Test of Humanity
    (pp. 169-212)

    The days, with their long ordeals, passed.

    The Nikkei, who had paid such a high price in the Manzanar Incident, saw the year begin anew in 1943 and, like the dancing rays of the sun heralding the spring at last, recovered from the bitterness of the past. Yet somehow the calm within the steel-mesh fence retained an element of blight.

    Otoshichi Amo became even more misanthropic than before, and on days when there were no funerals he shut himself up in the barracks, passing the hours either lost in thought or practicing writing the words of Confucius and Mencius that...

  8. 6 The U.S. Army
    (pp. 213-248)

    By the time mid-April passes, even Minneapolis, buried under its snow, starts to experience spring, and the glistening sun’s rays begin to melt the snowdrifts.

    Kenji Amo walked the slippery sidewalk that led to the building where the instructors’ room was.

    Camp Savage, the American Military Intelligence Japanese Language School, stood on a broad swath of land that had been carved from the forests on the outskirts of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and six hundred language specialist troops were in training there. Yet even in the United States few were aware of the existence of the camp or its school, which had...

  9. 7 Blood Proof
    (pp. 249-273)

    It was October of 1944, and the War Department summoned Kenji Amo to Washington. On its broad front lawn a carpet of fallen leaves covered the ground, and here and there smoke rose from piles that were burning. During his days as a reporter Kenji had gone to Washington as a member of a delegation of observers. Their tour had taken them by the government departments, but this was the first time he had passed through the gates of the War Department.

    Since there were different entrances for different departments, Kenji wandered about searching for the right one, repeatedly having...

  10. 8 The Pacific
    (pp. 274-292)

    In December 1944 Kenji Amo was transferred to the headquarters of General Douglas MacArthur in Australia. Headquarters were in the center of Brisbane, Australia’s third-largest city after Sydney and Melbourne, in the AMP Building, formerly occupied by an insurance company. Liaison officers from the Allied powers including England, Australia, the Netherlands, and China had offices on various floors.

    Early December in Brisbane was the beginning of the summer season, and temperatures climbed to 90°F during the day. The purple flowers of jacaranda trees were in full bloom, and when the wind blew it scattered a blizzard of their petals, belying...

  11. 9 Two Battlefields
    (pp. 293-345)

    Buffeted by wild winds, the convoy of Japanese transports sailed the South China Sea headed for the Philippines. The wind howled under leaden skies, and at each encounter with a wave the transports would tremble like leaves. Fearing attack from carrier aircraft in the skies and submarines in the sea, the ships progressed from island to island, hugging them for protection.

    At last the convoy approached the devil known as the Bashi Channel, south of Taiwan. Tadashi Amo was in the hold. There was no way he could know that his brother Kenji belonged to American intelligence or that he...

  12. 10 Brothers
    (pp. 346-410)

    At the Tule Lake segregation camp near the northern border of California freezing weather had continued for days, and thick icicles hung from the eaves.

    Otoshichi Amo glumly threw coal into the stove while Teru applied herself to sewing. Haruko was still growing, and just letting out hems would not work any more.

    Some disorderly person was making noise by the entry door, and Teru turned to look. A leaflet had been stuck in the crack of the doorway. Teru put down her sewing and went to take it out.

    Pray for the Victory of the Japanese Army

    All Households...

  13. 11 Nippon
    (pp. 411-443)

    The world of death was spread out before the eyes of Kenji Amo. The U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey had sent him to Hiroshima two months after the atomic bomb fell on the city, and he was standing halfway up Mount Hijiyama looking out over the city. Under the rays of the autumn sun, seemingly almost transparent, ash-gray remains stretched endlessly. All that was left were a few burnt-out hulks of buildings and black-scorched trees without limbs.

    When he left Tokyo they had showed him aerial photos and given him documents to read by way of briefing, but the spectacle before...

  14. 12 Monitor
    (pp. 444-464)

    At the auditorium of the former Army Ministry in Ichigaya rushed renovations continued day and night. It was being reconstructed as a courtroom for the International Military Tribunal for the Far East and at the end of March opened to a press conference for reporters from Japan and abroad. The main auditorium on the second floor, in which photos from the court in Nuremberg hung, looked the part of an international tribunal after its splendid transformation.

    Although it was spring, it was cold inside the courtroom, and the thirty or so reporters cast curious glances around the hall. With electrical...

  15. 13 Family
    (pp. 465-486)

    Papa’s sick? From the private correspondence delivered to his quarters in the NYK Building, Kenji immediately extracted an airmail letter from his sister in Los Angeles and opened it. His brow clouded over. It said he should come back for a visit if at all possible. The court was going into recess for a week starting in two days to allow time for the installation of air-conditioning in the courtroom of the Tokyo trials, but to get a furlough to return to the States was nearly impossible.

    “The ladies are at the club, and they can hardly wait,” came the...

  16. 14 Witness
    (pp. 487-508)

    It was the morning of a day that promised to be blazing hot. A car left from the Soviet embassy in Mamiana-cho just as a second departed from the Western-style mansion of a former Russian merchant behind it, which served as the living quarters for the Soviet representatives. The black cars were headed for the courtroom of the Tokyo trials in Ichigaya. At the same time, a third car of the same model drove from the quarters in Kioi-cho a short distance away.

    The three automobiles took different routes to Ichigaya, but they all arrived at the gate of the...

  17. 15 Pearl Harbor I
    (pp. 509-530)

    Rain had not fallen in Los Angeles for months. The land was parched, and even the branches of the California palms drooped forlornly.

    Otoshichi Amo, when he finished the heavy work of ironing, stepped away from the ironing board and took off his sweat-drenched running shirt. His old chest with its protruding ribs heaved, and he gasped with evident pain.

    “Boss, water,” said his Chinese employee, a lad not yet twenty with a boyish face, holding out a cup. His name was Bob Sun, and he had been hired to replace a Mexican who had quit without notice. It was...

  18. 16 Pearl Harbor II
    (pp. 531-550)

    In Tokyo the first frost of the year came much earlier than usual. In the Imperial Garden at the Shiba Detached Palace as well, a light frost encrusted the gravel and the withered grass. Though it was still early morning and only a few birds were chattering, one could hear the powerful rush of arrows flying through the air.

    Near the pond in the garden stood a worn and weathered archery range that had been there since before the war. Two men, wearing black hakama trousers and white practice jackets, with one shoulder bare, were drawing their bows. One was...

  19. 17 Washington Heights
    (pp. 551-566)

    When the new year dawned, the Americans opened some two hundred residences for officers on 675,000 square meters of land that used to be the Yoyogi Parade Ground. Neat homes had gone up one after another in the area, which rejoiced in the name Washington Heights. The number of spaces was limited, so by no means was it possible for just anyone to bring his family over from the United States. The family of Kenji Amo was able to receive priority treatment, however, because of the important work he was doing in connection with the Tokyo trials.

    The houses, which...

  20. 18 Masked Court
    (pp. 567-593)

    As autumn deepened, anxiety over the prospects for the Tokyo trials grew more intense. The Pacific phase of the defense’s presentation of its case ended after only a month with most of its supporting documents having been rejected. After that the court was to hear presentations for the twenty-five individual defendants. Viewed fairly, it was plain to see that the reality was that this was a trial of those who lost by those who won, and the days bore down painfully upon the monitor Kenji Amo.

    “All rise!” The voice of the bailiff sounded through the courtroom, and the justices...

  21. 19 Tojo
    (pp. 594-606)

    Katsuko Tojo had stayed at the home of her own family in Fukuoka on Kyushu after her husband had attempted suicide, but she returned to her home in Setagaya in Tokyo in October of the previous year, 1946. She had permission to take him things in Sugamo Prison and to visit him in the waiting area at the courtroom.

    When at last it came her husband’s turn to take the witness stand, Katsuko’s nerves were so taut the night before that sleep eluded her until dawn. When she met him in the waiting area of the courtroom the day before,...

  22. 20 No More
    (pp. 607-641)

    Tadashi Amo was pacing up and down the corridor of the Hiroshima Red Cross Hospital’s internal medicine ward clutching a large pot of orchids. He was searching for the room of Nagiko Imoto.

    In a time when even invalids did not get enough to eat, Tadashi, with his tropical plant cultivated in a hot house until it bloomed with huge white petals, stood out, and people could be heard whispering that there was no way he could have come by that making an honest living.

    A voice called out in English, “Hello! Is that really you, Tadashi?”

    When he turned...

  23. 21 Death by Hanging
    (pp. 642-657)

    The time for pronouncing the sentences was steadily approaching.

    There was a report that the emperor would listen to a radio broadcast of the sentencing in the palace library.

    In the line for the spectators’ gallery, the defendants’ families looked hardly alive as they waited. Katsuko Tojo disappeared from it. No doubt she could not bear to hear her husband’s sentence in person when it was clear it would be death.

    At one thirty in the afternoon Presiding Judge Webb proceeded to the reading of Chapter Nine, “Acknowledgment of the Charges in the Indictment,” and Chapter Ten, “Judgment.” This completed...

  24. 22 Good-bye
    (pp. 658-688)

    In the office for MacArthur’s aides Charlie Tamiya was examining a list of nineteen Class A war criminals who had been released without prosecution. It included such names as Nobusuke Kishi, Yoshio Kodama, and Ryoichi Sasagawa. Another name on the list was that of Shumei Okawa, the theorist for militarism.

    “Huh, that rascal Okawa. The first day the trial opened he patted Tojo’s bald head and put up a good enough act of being crazy that it got him off scot-free. Ken just worshipped that old right-winger. What a joke!” Since they had indicted him, he probably would have gotten...

  25. Author’s Note on the Translation and Acknowledgments
    (pp. 689-692)
  26. Back Matter
    (pp. 693-696)