Book Review – An Internment Odyssey

Book Review – An Internment Odyssey

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Group Photo of The tournament-winning Hawai‘i internee softball team at Fort Missoula.
Photo of Kumaji Furuya’s entire family greeting him at Honolulu Harbor when he arrived home on Nov. 13, 1945

Kumaji Furuya’s entire family greeted him at Honolulu Harbor when he arrived home on Nov. 13, 1945. From left: Sons Hanzo, Seizo, Albert Tomochi and Robert; Kumaji Furuya carrying his daughter Florence Yoko; and wife Jun. (Courtesy of the Furuya family)

Karleen C. Chinen
Commentary

Sometimes we grow numb to the numbers and forget the individual lives that were affected by Executive Order 9066. And then comes along a new work that jolts us back to that reality.

Group photo of Kumaji Furuya (fifth from right), who attended the September 1943 funeral for Masao Sogawa

Kumaji Furuya (fifth from right) attended the September 1943 funeral for Masao Sogawa, a Japanese newspaper publisher who died at Fort Missoula Internment Camp. Bishop Gikyo Kuchiba, bishop of the Honolulu Hongwanji Buddhist temple conducted Sogawa’s service. (Courtesy of the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula)

Tatsumi Hayashi’s translated work, “Haisho Tenten: An Internment Odyssey,” on the internment experiences of Kumaji “Suikei” Furuya is an excellent reminder of the human experience of the World War II internment. The Tökyö-born Hayashi enjoyed a 40-year career with Japan Airlines, retiring as the president and CEO of JAL subsidiaries the Ihilani Resort & Spa and Ko Olina Golf Club. After relaxing for a while, Hayashi began volunteering at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i, making use of his Japanese language skills in the production of two earlier JCCH publications, “Life behind Barbed Wire” and “Family Torn Apart: The Internment Story of the Otokichi Muin Ozaki Family.”

Between 1961 and 1963, The Hawaii Times Japanese-language newspaper had published 196 articles by Furuya on his internment experience. Furuya had written them in his pen name, Suikei Furuya. The Times subsequently added more of Furuya’s poems and published the collection as the book, “Haisho Tenten.” Roughly translated, haisho tenten means “transiting imprisonment.”

Hayashi’s work on “Life behind Barbed Wire” and “Family Torn Apart: The Internment Story of the Otokichi Muin Ozaki Family” — and his growing personal interest in Hawai‘i’s internment story — led him to take on the translation of “Haisho Tenten.” He worked tirelessly on the translation for 10 years — refining it over and over again until it was ready to turn over to an English-language editor.

“Haisho Tenten” is an apt title for the book given that Furuya’s nearly four years of imprisonment — from Dec. 7, 1941, to Nov. 13, 1945, with other Issei men, mostly from Hawai‘i — had taken him to eight different camps.

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