Made in Japan and Settled in Oregon (book)
|Title||Made in Japan and Settled in Oregon|
|Author||Mitzi Asai Loftus|
|Original Publisher||Pigeon Point Press|
|Original Publication Date||1990|
An Oregon-born Nisei woman shares her family's story, including her parents' efforts to establish a farm in Hood River, her childhood, and the impact of being taken from their home and incarcerated during World War II.
The author begins by sharing anecdotes reflecting how her identity as a Japanese American woman has caused confusion for those around her, and her motivation for sharing her family's story through writing this book.
She then recounts her father Sagoro Asai's journey from a village in Aichi Prefecture, Japan, to the United States in 1904. Since he was not the oldest son, he decided America held as much promise for success as staying in Japan. After working on railroads in California and Oregon, he saved enough money to purchase land in Oregon, and was one of the first Japanese to settle in Hood River. He asked his family to find him a wife, and in 1911, his wife Matsu joined him. They had 8 children—the author is the youngest—who all helped at the farm except for the oldest, Masako, who was sent to live with an aunt in Japan. When Pearl Harbor was attacked, two of the family's sons were already serving in the army.
The Asai family was taken first to Pinedale Assembly Center, near Fresno, California, and from there, went to Tule Lake. When the loyalty questionnaire was distributed, Sagoro tried to discourage others from responding "no-no" to questions 27 and 28, fearing that they would be separated if they did. Since they responded "yes-yes" to those questions, they were moved to Heart Mountain when Tule Lake was designated a segregation center. The author details the difficulties the family faced returning to Hood River—they were the first Japanese family to return, and were met with considerable hostility and hardship.
The author also shares her experiences as a Fulbright teacher in Japan in the 1950s and her family's search for and eventual reunion with Katsumi, the surviving son of Masako, the author's eldest sister who was killed during American bombing raids during World War II.
In the section where the author explains the loyalty questionnaire, she mistakenly states that while there were Nisei who volunteered for the army, no one was drafted from camp. This is not the case. Starting in early 1944, the U.S. Army began drafting Nisei out of camp.
Might also like Dandelion Through the Crack/Kiyo's Story by Kiyo Sato; Looking Like the Enemy: My Story of Imprisonment in Japanese-American Internment Camps by Mary Matsuda Gruenewald; We the People: A Story of Internment in America by Mary Tsukamoto
Chapter "EO 9066." In Many Faces: An Anthology of Oregon Autobiography. Edited by Stephen Dow Beckham. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 1993.
Neumann-Rea, Kirby. "I Had to Give Up the Hood River Valley." Hood River News, May 9, 2012.
Oral History of Mitzi Asai Loftus. Japanese-American Association of Lane County, Oregon Oral History Collection, Oregon State University.
"The Rest of the Story." Lake Oswego Review, Feb. 11, 2009.
Portland Humanists. Video, "Detained in My Qwn Country." Aug 23, 2015. 76 minutes.