Hawaii, End of the Rainbow (book)


Title Hawaii, End of the Rainbow
Author Kazuo Miyamoto


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.

Book and Author Overview[edit]

Born in 'O'okala, Hawai'i, Miyamoto grew up in a family that included two brothers and three sisters. Miyamoto attended Stanford University and studied medicine at Washington University Medical School in St. Louis, Missouri. Following his graduation, Miyamoto spent nine years in Honolulu as a general practitioner and then traveled to Japan to further pursue his medical career during two years of study.[1] In the midst of the Second Sino-Japanese War, Miyamoto was able to accompany a friend's father who was a Diet (parliamentary) member on a two-month trip to China. During these two months, he recorded his observations for future publication entitled Glimpses of Formosa and China under Japanese Occupation 1937-1939. However, this publication would have far reaching consequences as it would become the justification for his internment. During his incarceration at Sand Island, Miyamoto began writing Hawaii, End of the Rainbow, a fictional account of the events unfolding in his own life. According to Miyamoto, he felt compelled to write this book as "had I not written this story there is perhaps no one else who could have presented it to the world as it actually happened in the concentration camps and relocation centers."[2] Miyamoto added that he "did not write in an [vindictive] mood and I did not materially deviate from the truth." Instead he felt that "what happened is important history and, as such, is recorded so that in the future . . . America may not repeat the gross mistakes of the past" in regards to the rights of minorities.

The first part of the novel centers on the experience of two fictional Issei families—the Aratas and the Murayamas—as they leave Japan to work on the plantations in Kaua'i and Hawai'i. Through these characters, Miyamoto depicts the challenges that Japanese laborers faced working under grueling conditions. As they engaged in hole hole field work or labored in the plantation mills, they began to establish the fledging Japanese community with the arrival of picture brides. The second part of the book focuses on the lives of their children and as the Nisei are successfully Americanized, some even sojourn to the mainland for work and education despite growing hostilities between Japan and the United States. The third part of the book centers on the experiences of the Arata and Murayama families during World War II as they are deemed suspect and interned for the duration of the conflict. After being relocated to various internment camps, by a twist of fate the two families who once shared a Waikiki picnic to celebrate their nuptials decades earlier, are reunited in Jerome, Arkansas. With the conclusion of the war, the families are allowed to return home to Hawai'i to begin the challenge of rebuilding their lives.

Reaction and Impact[edit]

Although reviewer Martin J. Sherwin was critical of Miyamoto's "welter of peripheral matters and lines of weak dialogue," Sherwin acknowledged the value of Miyamoto's work as "it serves as a symbolic expression of a new era of 'acceptance' and success for Japanese-Americans."[3] Scholar Stephen H. Sumida also noted the importance of Miyamoto's book as "the most comprehensive novel yet written of the history of Hawaii's Japanese immigrants and their children" as it transcends the traditional narrative of the Japanese American success story.[4] Unlike other novels that are limited to the prewar history of the Issei, Miyamoto and other authors like Milton Murayama bridge the story of Japanese Americans before and during World War II to encompass what the Christian Century described as "whole unhappy story."[5] Appropriately, Miyamoto ends his novel with his characters gazing at Diamond Head on their return trip home as they still longed to return to Hawai'i, "a still-shimmering dream at the rainbow's end."[6]

Following its publication, Hawaii, End of the Rainbow (1964) was translated into Japanese and published under the title of Hawai nisei monogatari (1968). In addition to establishing a flourishing medical practice, Miyamoto wrote two other books, Vikings of the Far East (1975) and One Man's Journey: a Spiritual Autobiography (1981). As one of the first published fictional accounts written about Hawai'i internment by a former internee, Hawaii, End of the Rainbow remains an important work in Japanese American literature.[7]

Authored by Kelli Y. Nakamura, University of Hawai'i

For More Information[edit]

"Before the bombs fell: A look at pre-war Hawaii." Hawaii Herald 1:14 (December 5, 1980): 1-6.

"Kazuo Miyamoto," Honolulu Advertiser, 19 February 1988, D-2.

Miyamoto, Kazuo. Glimpses of Formosa and China Under Japanese Occupation in 1939. [Tokyo, 1939].

Miyamoto, Kazuo. Hawaii, End of the Rainbow. Tokyo, Japan: Charles E. Tuttle Company, Inc., 1964.

Miyamoto, Kazuo. Hawai nisei monogatari. Tokyo: Doho Kyokai, 1968.

Miyamoto, Kazuo. One Man's Journey: a Spiritual Autobiography. Honolulu: The Buddhist Study Center, 1981.

Miyamoto, Kazuo. Vikings of the Far East, New York: Vantage Press, 1975.

Newman, Katherine. "Hawaiian-American Literature Today: The Cultivation of Mangoes" MELUS 6:3 (Summer 1979): 46-77.

Okihiro, Michael M. "Japanese Doctors in Hawai'i" Hawaiian Journal of History 36 (2002): 105-117.

Review of Hawaii: End of the Rainbow, by Kazuo Miyamoto. Christian Century (March 18, 1964): 366.

Sherwin, Martin J. Review of Hawaii: End of the Rainbow, by Kazuo Miyamoto. Pacific Historical Review 33:4 (Nov., 1964): 490-491.

Sumida, Stephen H. And the View from the Shore: Literary Traditions of Hawai'i. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1991.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. Kazuo Miyamoto, Vikings of the Far East (New York: Vantage Press, 1975), About the Author; Kazuo Miyamoto, One Man's Journey: a Spiritual Autobiography (Honolulu: The Buddhist Study Center, 1981), 84-85.
  2. Kazuo Miyamoto, Hawaii, End of the Rainbow (Tokyo, Japan: Charles E. Tuttle Company, Inc., 1964), 9.
  3. Martin J. Sherwin, review of Hawaii: End of the Rainbow, by Kazuo Miyamoto, Pacific Historical Review 33:4 (Nov., 1964): 491.
  4. Stephen H. Sumida, And the View from the Shore: Literary Traditions of Hawai'i (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1991), 216.
  5. Review of Hawaii: End of the Rainbow, by Kazuo Miyamoto. Christian Century (March 18, 1964): 366.
  6. Sumida, 217.
  7. Katherine Newman, "Hawaiian-American Literature Today: The Cultivation of Mangoes" MELUS 6:3 (Summer 1979): 69.