Michael G. Malaghan
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald
Editor’s note: We continue Michael G. Malaghan’s serialized historical novel, “Picture Bride — A Family Saga,” based on the Japanese immigrant experience. Malaghan’s trilogy takes readers from turn-of-the-20th-century-Japan to Hawai‘i in the picture bride era; the Islands during World War II, highlighted by the exploits of the Nisei soldiers; and beyond.
The novel, which is now available as a printed softcover book, opens with 12-year-old Haru-chan, fleeing her home in Amakusa, Kyüshü, for Hiroshima, where she becomes the picture bride of a Buddhist priest in Hawai‘i.
Author Michael Malaghan is a retired businessman who divides his time between Hawai‘i, Florida and Japan.
Unconsciously, Haru rubbed her swelling belly, which soon would be noticeable, even under a loose-fitting yukata. She looked at the calendar: Dec. 1. She had put off visiting the Christian Community Center, always finding one reason or another to postpone a visit: like registering the children for school, meeting the new parishioners or chairing the ladies’ auxiliary meetings . . . there was always some reason. And, yet, almost every day, her errands, usually done on her bike, took her past Okumura’s center. She noticed that their facility sported a half-court outdoor basketball tarmac. A neatly framed signboard near the edge of the dirt road promoted classes in sewing, bookkeeping, English and carpentry. She thought of Yoshi. Haru prayed that a little goodwill diplomacy with Okumura would ease some of the tension.
* * *
Since her arrival on O‘ahu, the conflict over the Japanese language schools had turned vicious. Pafko had moved over to the stridently anti-Japanese Star-Bulletin and was pounding the drums, demanding that Gov. William McCarthy call a special session of the Legislature to prohibit Japanese language schools. “Why pay the federal government to conduct an education assessment of Hawai‘i and then ignore its recommendations?” wrote Pafko.
The governor, well known for his anti-Asian views, duly called the Legislature into session. McCarthy also savaged the Big Five in private conversations. “You cannot see beyond the next harvest. You have imported a labor force whose children will outnumber yours and, by their vote, eventually rule us.”
In an about-face, the Advertiser offered a lonely voice arguing against the bill. Its writers attacked the Washington report and proposed legislation as “un-American, devoid of the spirit of freedom and inexcusably tyrannical to make it a penal offense for a man to teach his own child his own language.”
While Pafko wrote and the governor postured, Okumura and his son visited 70 plantations, preaching his version of assimilation.
The territorial Legislature passed the Language School Bill on Nov. 24. The regulations would force the shutdown of the schools, effective July of the following year.
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