LIfe of a Japanese Immigrant Boy in Hawaii & America (excerpts)

By George Y. Hoshida

A description of the author’s time when he was first detained at Kilauea Military Camp on the Big Island, before he was sent to Oahu and then on to various mainland camps. Though this is an autobiography, the author intentionally wrote it in third person.

page 254
[after being told that he would be arrested and taken as a internee]
“Nevertheless, when he thought about all the overwhelming problems which had now shifted to the frail shoulders of his wife, his heart was heavy. How was she to manage their household finances without him to earn them; the monthly payment had to be met; and all the monthly expenses had to come from somewhere—but where and how?”

page 255
[as he entered the barracks for the first time]
“Then, as soon as they entered the barrack, they were surrounded by out-stretched hands and joyous embraces. Rev. Tsunoda, the judo instructor at the temple, who succeeded Rev. Tachibana, got to Yoshio first, and grabbing his hands tightly shouted, “Welcome! Welcome! I’ve been waiting for you!” Others then got hold of Yoshio to welcome him with handshakes and embraces as thought to welcome home their long-separated son or friend.”

page 260
[reflecting on his family in the barracks]
“Sandra and Taeko [his daughters] were taking naps in their cribs while June was with her grandmother at Uncle Riichi’s home when Yoshio left home, and he had come without seeing them. He should at least have looked into Taeko and Sandra but it would only have compounded the agony of leaving home if he had seen their innocent sleeping faces. So, he had avoided going into their bedrooms to bid them farewell. Now he felt that he should have gone to see them, for it might be quite some time before he would be seeing them again. Thoughts of his loved ones and the dark and uncertain future which would be waiting for them all, kept Yoshio awake for hours in the gloom of the dimly-lighted barrack.”

page 261
[at the barracks]
“Yoshio became aware of the footsteps of the guards crunching on the gravels outside as they made their rounds. It brought sudden compassion in Yoshio’s heart for them who were called to duty by their country. It dawned on Yoshio that perhaps these soldiers who had to risk their lives in line of duty were more unfortunate then [sic] they who could sleep within the sanctuary of their warm beds. They too were the victims of this tragic war. In fact there were already thousands dead during the Pearl Harbor attack and their lives terminated so suddenly at the spring of their lives. The detainees and detainers were both unfortunate victims of this cruel war. Life, Buddha said is suffering but it is caused by ignorance of men. How can they be awakened to their folly? It was a difficult question and Yoshio found himself gradually drifting into a merciful slumber.”

page 266
[at the barracks]
“Although this confinement brought out some fine characteristics of human nature, it also revealed very ugly and selfish nature of man which were ordinarily concealed while living outside. For example, there was a man who was quite successful in his line of business and appeared to be a very religious man, he read the Bible every day, recited from it and talked about God and Jesus. But when meal time came, he would rush out to be the first in line. It was because the KPs did not take care to proportion the servings properly, and if you were late in line, there were some food depleted and the unfortunate late-comers had to go without them. There was an understanding among the inmates that the older people and people with artificial teeth, who couldn’t eat very fast, were to be given priority in the line up. In spite of this, this man, still quite young and with good teeth, would manage to squeeze in among the first in line. It was sad to think that his preaching and practice didn’t go together.”

page 270
[during his first family visitation day]
“Yoshio longed to gather her in his arms and embrace her passionately, but there were many, whose families were not here this day, and looking at them enviously. Also, with most of them being first generation and middle age, they were not accustomed to showing emotions openly, and to embrace or kiss in public would be quite unthinkable. In fact one of them commented later on few cases where the second generations couples embraced and kissed each other, and said that if they had any decent Japanese spirit, to kiss or embrace in public is shameful. However, Yoshio couldn’t resist the temptation and stole a kiss with Tamae when he thought no one was looking.”

page 271
[during his first family visitation day]
“Looking at his three children innocently oblivious of the seriousness of their situation, Yoshio felt a stab of painful agony in his heart. It was fortunate for them to escape the mental anguish the adults had to suffer, but will this terrible human strife bring any harmful lasting affects [sic] on these innocent souls? Future was dark and unpredictable and only time could tell.”

page 275
[after he explained his family situation to a FBI agent during a questioning at the barracks which included a handicapped wife, a tragically crippled daughter, and two other children]
“Yoshio was so overcome emotionally at this moment that he broke down and wept. Although he felt it unmanly to show tears, the apprehension and concern for Tamae and the family which had been accumulating in his heart, finally broke the dam and his tears flowed uncontrollably. The FBI agent was very sympathetic and ended the interview there.”

page 276
[at the barracks]
“A letter arrived one day from Tamae and left him with mixed emotions. She was pregnant! The doctor had confirmed her suspicion. Normally this would have been a most joyous tiding. But coming at this time, it sounded like tragidy [sic] piling up on another. It wasn’t enough that she was burdened already with three little ones; now it could be too much for her to bear alone without Yoshio with her. He felt so helpless caged as he was in this miserable prison. His brother Takeo and mother were there to help her but the spiritual burden might affect her acutely. Yoshio answered her letter with a cheery note but his heart was heavy.”

page 282
“In the meantime, Tamae wrote that a special worker in charge of his family, seeing the difficulty Tamae was having with the unfortunate Taeko, advises her to have her sent to the Waimao Home for the mentally retarded. Tamae wrote to Yoshio asking him for advice. At normal times, such a thing would have been unthinkable but now with him confined and Tamae carrying another baby, this would be the wisest thing to do… Yoshio never saw her again and received news of her tragic death two years ago at the Home due to deliberate negligence of an attending nurse. Yoshio couldn’t help but question the meaning of life which made such innocent soul suffer untold miseries. What was the reason for her being born into this world if this was to be her fate?”

SourceLife of a Japanese Immigrant Boy in Hawaii & America, by George Yoshio Hoshida
Publication:  [Honolulu : George Yoshio Hoshida, 1983] (Note: privately printed; only 20-30 copies reproduced by author for friends and family)
Page #:  Various excerpts from pp. 250-283
Call No. in JCCH Resource Center:  SP H B HOS

MLA citation:  Hoshida, George Y. Life of a Japanese Immigrant Boy in Hawaii & America. Honolulu: George Yoshio Hoshida, 1983. The Untold Story: The Internment of Japanese Americans in Hawai‘i. Web. [date of access]