Couple’s unorthodox letters depict life in multiple wartime camps

TAKEN FROM THE PARADISE ISLE: THE HOSHIDA FAMILY STORY

TAKEN FROM THE PARADISE ISLE: THE HOSHIDA FAMILY STORY

TAKEN FROM THE PARADISE ISLE: THE HOSHIDA FAMILY STORY
Edited by Heidi Kim (Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2015, 304 pp., $29.95, hardcover)

This book tells the difficult and painful story of a Japanese American couple from Hawai‘i and their wartime incarceration experience. George Hoshida was arrested in early 1942 by the United States government, and was thereafter incarcerated as a potentially dangerous alien. As a result, he spent almost two years at Sand Island in Hawai‘i, San Antonio, Texas and Lordsburg and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Meanwhile, Tamae and three daughters (including a newborn), were removed from Hawai‘i and sent to the mainland to be incarcerated in the Jerome camp in Arkansas.

The book’s text consists of a diary, mixed with later narration, by George Hoshida (phrased in the third person as “Yoshio”), plus letters exchanged by the couple in incarceration. Editor Heidi Kim has added the text of archival documents that further document the family’s journey and provides an outside official view of the protagonists.

The story recounted in the book is compelling, and differs in many respects from the mass of incarceration narratives. First, George Hoshida’s background provides him an unusual perspective. Born in Japan, he came to Hawai‘i at the age of 4. As a yobiyose (foreign-born child brought over by parents) he melds characteristics of both the Issei and Nisei generations. Though bilingual, he is more comfortable speaking Japanese, studies martial arts and feels Japanese in his habits. (He relates how in his youth he remained too Japanese in spirit to ask his girlfriend for a kiss). Yet his education is American, and he describes the United States as his “adopted parent” alongside his Japanese “birth parent.”

2020 Japanese Culture Guide

2020 Japanese Culture Guide

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