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Starting from Loomis and Other Stories

By Hiroshi Kashiwagi, Edited with an Introduction by Tim Yamamura

Publication Year: 2013

A memoir in short stories, Starting from Loomis chronicles the life of accomplished writer, playwright, poet, and actor Hiroshi Kashiwagi. In this dynamic portrait of an aging writer trying to remember himself as a younger man, Kashiwagi recalls and reflects upon the moments, people, forces, mysteries, and choices—the things in his life that he cannot forget—that have made him who he is.

Central to this collection are Kashiwagi’s confinement at Tule Lake during World War II, his choice to answer “no” and “no” to questions 27 and 28 on the official government loyalty questionnaire, and the resulting lifelong stigma of being labeled a “No-No Boy” after his years of incarceration. His nonlinear, multifaceted writing not only reflects the fragmentations of memory induced by traumas of racism, forced removal, and imprisonment but also can be read as a bold personal response to the impossible conditions he and other Nisei faced throughout their lifetimes.

Published by: University Press of Colorado

Cover

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pp. 1-7

Contents

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pp. 8-9

Figures

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pp. ix-x

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xiv

For making this publication possible, I wish to thank Professor Lane Ryo Hirabayashi, UCLA, general editor, George and Sakaye Aratani Nikkei in the Americas Series; the editorial board and staff of the University Press of Colorado; editor Tim Yamamura for his invaluable assistance; and my wife, Sadako, for her constant love and support....

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Introduction: Hiroshi Kashiwagi: A Disquieted American

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pp. 1-6

For over eighty years, Hiroshi Kashiwagi has been quietly building an eclectic and accomplished career in the arts as a playwright, poet, performer, and librarian. As a Nisei (first generation born of immi-grant parents), Kashiwagi has lived through the major eras in Japanese American history, most notably the community’s wartime incarcera-...

Part I

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Starting from Loomis

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pp. 9-24

There were over 150 Japanese families living in Loomis; it was a large community for such a small town. In the schools, too, there were a lot of Japanese kids. I started school in 1928; we were living in the country, so I rode the bus the school provided. I spoke only Japanese then; what little English I knew I picked up during the few miserable months I ...

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My Parents

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pp. 25-26

Rarely does a day go by when my thoughts don’t turn to my parents, Fukumatsu and Kofusa, an unlikely couple who first met at Angel Island—she a seventeen-year-old picture bride, he a man of the world, age thirty-one. Both were attractive people, and I often wonder if that was the reason for their tempestuous life together. No, I don’t think ...

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Sacramento Nihonmachi

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pp. 27-30

This journey to early Sacramento Nihonmachi begins at the Southern Pacific station on I Street, a short distance from the boardinghouse where we stayed on occasion during the time we lived in Loomis. Actually, I don’t remember ever going inside the station. It was rather forbidding, enclosed within an iron fence and gate. But I was always ...

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Nihongo Gakko

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pp. 31-36

The last time I met my friend Jack in Loomis, he reminded me of a bit of history we share. “We go back a long way, don’t we? We used to go to Japanese school together,” he said, and I was reminded of the carpool our families used to have when we were kids. Every Saturday morning his father, with Jack and his brother in tow, would stop for me on the ...

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Bento

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pp. 38-40

The first bento I can remember is the one I used to take to kindergarten. My parents knew how I hated going to kindergarten, so they bribed me with a special “obento.” There was a meat sandwich, usually ham; some kind of fruit; and a piece of cake or candy. The only thing is, I didn’t get to eat much of it. Other kids got to it first; they were like animals. ...

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Three Spanish Girls

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pp. 41-42

When I was almost eight we moved to town—my parents had taken over the fish market/grocery store. One good thing about the move was that I didn’t have to ride the bus to school and risk missing it going home, as I had once and the school principal had to drive me home. My parents didn’t know what to make of that, but that’s another story. ...

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Dominguez

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pp. 43-50

From time to time, I find myself thinking about Dominguez Mendoza, wondering if he is still alive. I owe him a treat, a milkshake. It sounds At first, I couldn’t tell Dominguez or anybody else from the twenty or more Filipino men out at the ranch. They all seemed alike to me—the same dark faces, the bandana neckerchiefs, the light, quick feet, ...

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I Will Go and Return

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pp. 51-56

...“I will go and return . . . itte kaerimasu,” the little boy said, repeating the Japanese expression he had learned a few days before. Even now, I can’t forget how he seemed to know that the expression is followed by some movement away, for after each time he said it he would wheel his tricy-cle around and drive off—to school, to work, to town, or wherever else ...

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After Supper

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pp. 57-60

It was after dinner. A few men had filed out of the kitchen door, wiping the sweat off their hot faces with a red or blue bandana. Some had finished supper and were sitting in the shade on a stray cot or empty “Eating in that hot room is like working in the field,” another man “It’s the August heat, same every year,” a solemn-faced man said....

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New Year’s Eve, 1940

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pp. 61-66

That night, my brother sat at the table listening to the radio the boss had given us for Christmas. Since we were on the West Coast, he had already listened to programs on the year’s major news events and heard the crowds in New York and Chicago welcome in the New Year. Now the radio was tuned to a program coming directly from a party in some ...

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Papa’s Hat

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pp. 67-78

It’s an ordinary felt hat, brown, and not stiff like cardboard that would crack with age. Though inexpensive, the felt must have been of good quality. There was enough suppleness that I could reshape it into a porkpie hat, as I did when I decided to start wearing it. I thought the high crown wasn’t right for a young man, a college student, which I was ...

Part II

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Little Theater in Camp

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pp. 81-86

I mentioned before that camp was exciting, at least at first. I was nine-teen years old and eager for new adventures. There were all these new people of different and interesting backgrounds to meet. Strangely, camp gave me a chance to pursue what interested me the most: writing and acting, performing in front of people. I had taken a drama course ...

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Starting from Loomis . . . Again

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pp. 87-90

I renounced my American citizenship at Tule Lake, and I feel that was the dumbest thing I ever did in my life. It was a terrible mistake for I had opposed the registration in protest against the many injustices I had suffered—not just the incarceration but all the racist abuses I had taken as a child and as a young man, all the times I had been called a ...

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Swimming in the American

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pp. 91-94

Swimming was our principal form of recreation in the summer. As kids, we could not go swimming unless the temperature hit 90 degrees or above—so we put the thermometer out in the sun, sometimes shaking it impatiently, and barely waited until it reached 90. Then we rushed off with our swimming trunks to our favorite swimming hole in the ...

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Tuberculosis in Our Family

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pp. 95-100

Tuberculosis was the bane of our family. I believe the disease was ever-present in our household. My youngest sister succumbed to tuber-culosis meningitis at age three-and-a-half, when I was a freshman at Placer Union High School. My other sister was diagnosed with TB after she came out of camp, but she was able to overcome it even after ...

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Summer Job at Mount Baldy

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pp. 101-106

While I was in college in Los Angeles after the war, I never thought to plan ahead for a summer job while school was still in session. Does this mean I was so immersed in my studies that I could not look ahead to summer, when classes were over? I doubt that that was the case, but, whatever the reason, only after final exams were completed would I ...

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Nisei Experimental Group and Later

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pp. 107-112

Los Angeles, where I was working as a page in the literature depart-ment. This was during my college days. We had been classmates in the advanced Japanese class at the Tule Lake camp. That was enough to start a conversation. We discovered that we shared an interest in the-ater. Hiro was taking an acting class in the evenings at Los Angeles ...

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Career as a Librarian

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pp. 113-118

Librarianship was not my first choice as a career, but in the 1960s there was a shortage of librarians and the field was opening up to males and minorities, so I took what was available. I had worked for five years as translator/interpreter, editor, and English-language secretary for the Buddhist headquarters. Though satisfying, the job did not pay enough ...

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Barracuda and Other Fish

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pp. 119-132

I developed a love for fish of all kinds growing up in a fish market. I still remember watching my father, an ex-fisherman, cutting the fish deftly with his large, sword-like knives. Over the years, I have eaten so many of them, big and small, that I have a good knowledge of fish, especially Tuna and sea bass are usually served raw as sashimi, but with the ...

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Tule Lake Revisited

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pp. 133-136

I often wonder were it not for young people’s interest in Japanese American history, I would have thought about camp, much less spo-ken publicly and openly about my personal experiences during World War II. When I was first asked to speak about my camp experience, my thought was to decline; but the students’ genuine, enthusiastic inter-...

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What It Means to Be Nisei

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pp. 137-142

At this point in my life, the question of being Nisei ( Japanese Americans born of immigrant parents, or second generation) is probably better put in the past tense. I feel I’m a survivor, albeit a battle-scarred one. I’m reasonably happy and proud of what I am. I’m comfortable bearing the history of my parents and the sensitivity of my Japanese ancestors. It took ...

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The Funeral

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pp. 143-152

No matter how long I have been away from Loomis, I still scan the obituary section of the Nichi Bei. As the firstborn in the family and the only one living reasonably close to our hometown, I am responsible for attending the funerals of my father’s former friends and acquaintances. It is customary to bring koden, or an offering of money, to the fam-...

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Birth Certificate Story

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pp. 153-156

I was born at 9:40 p.m. on November 8, 1922, in Sacramento, Cali-fornia. My parents were Fukumatsu, age thirty-four, and Kofusa, age twenty. Their permanent residence was given as Nankai-ya, a boarding-house at 219 I Street in Sacramento, run by a family from Wakayama Though we were aware that the birth certificate was an important ...

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Live Oak Store

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pp. 157-160

How did I come to write this poem, so many years after my childhood? I know my father had a store—a fish market/grocery store—in a rick-ety old building, probably the oldest house at the far-eastern end of town. It was known as the Jap store or the Jap Fish Market. The build-ing was once a saloon, a gambling house, even a bawdy house. It was ...

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No Brakes

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pp. 161-168

The war was finally over for Mr. Porter when he hired Ryujin and his family to work on his pear orchard. Actually, the war had been over for almost a year, but Mr. Porter couldn’t forget that his nephew had been killed in the Philippines and had stubbornly refused to have anything He couldn’t understand the farmers who were hiring them or even ...

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Afterword

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pp. 169-173

The George and.sc Sak.scaye Aratani Professor of the Jap.scanese American Incarceration, Red.scress, and.sc Community Asian American Stud.scies, UCLAHiroshi Kashiwagi, his poetry, plays, and prose, are a national treasure that will prove especially valuable to the Sansei- (fourth) and Yonsei- (fifth) generation Americans of Japanese ancestry. In Starting from ...


E-ISBN-13: 9781607322542
E-ISBN-10: 1607322544
Print-ISBN-13: 9781607322535
Print-ISBN-10: 1607322536

Page Count: 192
Illustrations: 20
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Nikkei in the Americas
Series Editor Byline: John Smith, Will Wordsworth

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Japanese Americans -- California -- Biography.
  • Kashiwagi, Hiroshi, 1922-.
  • California -- Biography.
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