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Desert Exile is her autobiographical account of life before and during World War II.

The
book does more than relate the day-to-day experience of living in stalls at the Tanforan
Racetrack, the assembly center just south of San Francisco, and in the Topaz, Utah,
internment camp. It tells the story of the courage and strength displayed by those who
were interned.

In Desert Exile the happy life of a Japanese American family before [being removed to a]
concentration camp makes their surrealist nightmare experience after December 7, 1941,
all the more inexplicable and horrifying. 
San Francisco Review of Books
Desert Exile is a beautifully written personal history. . . . Uchidas intention was to illuminate the Issei and Nisei internment experience on a personal level for the benefit of
later generations. She has succeeded. 
Western Historical Quarterly
Yoshiko Uchida has given us a chronicle of a very special kind of courage, the courage
to preserve normalcy and humanity in the face of irrationality and inhumanity. Her
familys story, told in loving detail, brings alive the internment experience and is an
important book for all Americans. It is not a history of the decisions that were made
during this period; rather, it is the story of the human lives touched and molded by
those decisions. As such, it is infinitely more important, and infinitely more precious.

Senator Daniel K. Inouye

DESERT EXILE

A sensitive, readable account that captures with insight and human warmth the feel of
what it was like to be sent by ones own government into exile in the wilderness. It is a
work worthy of an unforgettable experience. 
Pacific Citizen

UCHIDA

AFTER THE ATTAC K ON PE A R L H A R BOR , everything changed for Yoshiko Uchida.

THE UPROOTING OF A
J A PA N E S E A M E R I C A N F A M I LY

DESERT
EXILE

YOSHIKO UCHIDA (19211992) was born in Berkeley, California, and was in her senior

year at the University of California, Berkeley, when Japanese Americans on the West
Coast were rounded up and interned. TRAISE YAMAMOTO is associate professor of
English at the University of California, Riverside. She is the author of Masking Selves,
Making Subjects: Japanese American Women, Identity, and the Body.
Classics of Asian American Literature

U N I V E R S I T Y of WAS H I N G T O N P R E S S
Seattle and London
www.washington.edu/uwpress
ISBN 978-0-295-99475-8

uchida-cover-mech-v2.indd 1

Cover photographs: (top) Dorothea Lange, Dust Storm


at Manzanar War Relocation Authority Center, 1942, National
Archives. (bottom) Russell Lee, Los Angeles, California. JapaneseAmerican child who is being evacuated with his parents to Owens
Valley, 1942, Library of Congress.

YO S H I KO U C H I DA
Introduction by Traise Yamamoto

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D es e rt e xi le

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The Uprooting of a
Japanese American Family

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With a new introduction by


Seattle and London

Copyright 1982 by Yoshiko Uchida


Introduction to the 2015 edition 2015 by the University of Washington Press
Printed and bound in the United States of America
Design by Dustin Kilgore
Composed in Warnock, a typeface designed by Robert Slimbach
18 17 16 15 5 4 3 2 1

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All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in


any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording,
or any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the
publisher.

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University of WAshington Press


www.washington.edu/uwpress

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Portions of chapters 3 and 4 first appeared, in slightly altered form, in Yoshiko Uchidas
Evacuation: The First Five Months, California Monthly 77 (November 1966). A much
abridged excerpt from chapters 7 and 8 also appeared in her Topaz, City of Dust,
Utah Historical Quarterly 48 (Summer 1980).

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data


Uchida, Yoshiko.
Desert exile : the uprooting of a Japanese American family / Yoshiko Uchida ;
with a new introduction by Traise Yamamoto.
pages
cm
Originally published: Seattle : University of Washington Press, 1982.
isbn 978-0-295-99475-8 (paperback : alkaline paper)
1. Uchida, Yoshiko. 2. Japanese AmericansEvacuation and relocation, 19421945.
3. Tanforan Assembly Center (San Bruno, Calif.) 4. Central Utah Relocation Center.
5. Japanese AmericansCaliforniaBiography. 6. World War, 19391945Personal
narratives, American. 7. CaliforniaBiography. I. Title.
d769.8.A6U25 2015
940.53'1779245092dc23
[B]
2014050122
The paper used in this publication is acid-free and meets the minimum requirements
of American National Standard for Information SciencesPermanence of Paper for
Printed Library Materials, Ansi Z39.481984.

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In memory of my mother and father


and all the Issei
who were strong and of good courage

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Contents

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Introduction: An Uncommon Spirit,

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by Traise Yamamoto ix

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1. The House above Grove Street . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

2. On Being Japanese and American . . . . . . . 26


3. Pearl Harbor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46
4. Evacuation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52
5. Tanforan: A Horse Stall for Four . . . . . . . . . 69
6. Tanforan: City behind Barbed Wire . . . . . . 84
7. Topaz: City of Dust . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103
8. Topaz: Winters Despair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123
Epilogue 147

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Introduction

An Uncommon Spirit

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In a brief May 1982 letter to artist Min Okubo, Yoshiko Uchida


writes that she is pleased Okubo enjoyed Desert Exile, which had
been published a few months earlier. She asks whether Okubo recognized herself in the humorous account of the artist at Tanforan
who placed a quarantine sign on her door in order to be left alone
to draw and paint. Uchida then continues:

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Its hard to believe 40 years have elapsed since those incredible


horse stall days! The passage of time and the knowledge now of
our govt leaders betrayal has increased my anger. Im hoping
many young people will read my book, as I know they have read
and enjoyed your wonderful Citizen 13660. Your book was and
will continue to be a great pictorial record for future generations.1

From what we can glean based on their work and anecdotes


about the two women, Uchida and Okubo had very different personalities, Okubo often being described as gruff and a commanding personality, though one leavened with humor and
kindness.2 Uchidas work and letters, by contrast, seem to suggest a
cheerful, outgoing, though steadily determined personality. What
the two artistsboth of whom were incarcerated at Tanforan and
Topazshared and recognized in each other, however, was a certain political alignment. Both felt an absolute certainty about the
injustice of Japanese American incarceration during World War
II, a need to witness what the Nikkei had endured, and a commitment to ensuring through their work that subsequent generations
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of Americansand particularly Japanese Americanswould


understand what the Issei and Nisei had learned through hard
experience: that citizenship is no guarantor of rights and that
the government and its actions can all too easily contradict and
undermine the Constitution and the rhetoric of democracy.3
One of the accepted truisms about Nisei and Japanese American incarceration during World War II is that shame and silence
have generally been the response of a generation who learned
early that being Japanese was a carceral offense. The Sansei and
Yonsei generations are largely given the credit for pushing their
elders toward remembrance and reparations, informed as their
generations were by the civil rights movement and the growth
of ethnic studies during the third world student strikes. But this
widely accepted gloss on the Nisei response to the war is inaccurate in large part, if not completely, and too easily occludes a
wholly different reaction from a significant number of Nisei both
during and after the war. The very existence of the Tule Lake concentration camps and the Department of Justice internment camp
at Santa Felocations where those determined to be incorrigibly
noncompliant, among other reasons, were incarceratedattests
to a substantial amount of anger and dissent among both Issei and
Nisei. At the Poston camp, a widely circulated, anonymous, Niseiauthored poem, That Damned Fence, angrily referred to the
barbed wire that surrounded the camp: Were trapped like rats in
a wired cage, / To fret and fume with impotent rage.4 Other Nisei
resisted through legal routes, contesting the constitutionality of
curfew, removal, and incarceration. While it is generally known
that three Nisei men (Gordon Hirabayashi, Fred Korematsu, and
Minoru Yasui) filed suit against the U.S. government between 1942
and 1944, it is far less known that a twenty-two-year-old Nisei
woman, Mitsuye Endo, filed a habeas corpus petition in 1942. The
writ demanded that Endo be released from camp so that she could
pursue legal avenues to protest being fired from her job and incarcerated solely because of her Japanese ancestry. After a legal process that lasted more than two years while Endo remained in the
Tule Lake concentration camp, the Supreme Court unanimously

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ruled in Endos favor in December 1944. Ex parte Mitsuye Endo


was foundational in the decision to allow Nikkei to return to the
West Coast.
Endo is just one of a group of extraordinary Nisei women
among them Monica Sone, Yuri Kochiyama, Hisaye Yamamoto,
Mitsuye Yamada, Janice Mirikitani, Toyo Suyemoto, Wakako
Yamauchi, Michi Weglyn, Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, Violet
Kazue (Matsuda) deCristoforo, and, of course, Min Okubo
who refused the silence that too easily has come to characterize
the Nisei generation. Some, like Okubo, Sone, and Yamamoto,
produced work centered around the experience of incarceration
shortly after the wars end; others recounted that experience from
the distance of years.
Among this group of Nisei women, Yoshiko Uchida occupies
a singular place. Unlike the others, Uchida addressed her work
primarily to children and young adults. Uchida virtually created
the field of Japanese American juvenile writing, publishing books
for young readers steadily between 1949 and 1993. Only three of
her more than thirty books were written for adults, including Desert Exile.5 However, it would be a mistake to see Uchidas writing
for adults as somehow more sophisticated or important than her
work for juveniles, or to see these two bodies of work as separate rather than continuous. Indeed, Uchidas books for children
and young adults set the landscape for what Uchida would later
accomplish in her work for adults.
In 1949, Uchidas first book, The Dancing Kettle and Other Japanese Folk Tales, was published.6 A retelling of several folktales,
the book was the result of Uchidas two years (195254) as a Ford
Foundation Foreign Area Fellow in Japan. While there, she studied
various Japanese folk art and craft forms, as well as Zen philosophy, steadily gaining an appreciation for Japan and Japanese culture. Of this period, Uchida wrote, My experience in Japan was
as positive and restorative as the evacuation had been negative
and depleting.7 Uchidas time in Japan had a profound effect on
her process of healing and on her writing: subsequent books also
introduced the Japanese folktales that, with other folk art forms,

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had helped her to see her own Japanese heritage more positively.
These collections could evoke a similar sense of pride in young
Japanese Americans, as well as introduce Japanese culture to a
non-Nikkei audience.
This was only one of Uchidas purposes with regard to her
young readers, however. Her second book, New Friends for Susan,
published in 1951, introduces a young Japanese American protagonist through whose point of view the story is narrated. While the
plot focuses on the largely generic, and prewar, difficulties of starting out in a new school, the very presence of a Japanese American
main character was itself significant. It provided a point of identification for young Japanese American readers, and the narrative
created an imagined space wherein interracial friendships were
both possible and normative.
Uchidas works for children and young adults fall roughly into
four groups, in addition to her work on Nikkei incarceration
during the war: Japanese folktales, stories about Japanese protagonists in Japan, stories about Japanese American protagonists
in the United States, and narratives that explore the relationship
between Issei, or immigrant Japanese, and Nisei young people.
This last group is particularly important, as Uchida foregrounds
the misunderstandings or miscommunications between Japanese
elders and Japanese American youngsters, but always with an eye
toward rendering the Issei as fully and complexly human, rather
than just as signs of foreignness and difference. That is due, in part,
to Uchidas two years in Japan, which she credited for her new
respect and admiration for the culture that had made my parents
what they were.8 Uchidas respect and admiration for her parents
and for the Issei resonate in her subsequent writing, and nowhere
are both clearer than in her work focusing on the war years and
their immediate aftermath.
In the wake of her mothers death in 1966, Uchida turned for
the first time to writing about the wartime incarceration of her
family. One can surmise that Uchida may have waited to write
about the events of the war until her parents could not read her
books and have to revisit a difficult, humiliating, and painful time

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in their lives. Journey to Topaz, published in 1971, the same year


as her fathers death, is dedicated, In memory of my mother and
father and for my Issei friends. Written for young adults, Journey to Topaz and its sequel, Journey Home (1978), are fictionalized accounts based on Uchidas familys experiences just before,
during, and immediately after the war. They feature a protagonist
named Yuki who is eleven years old, nearly half the age Uchida
was when she was sent to Tanforan and Poston.9 Both books have
received national acclaim and are among the most widely read
of Uchidas works for young adults. The texts are striking in their
level of detail and the extent to which Uchida is able to register
complex forces in narratives whose momentum is determined
both by the genre of fiction for younger readers and by the exigencies of the historical events portrayed. Equally striking, and
moving, are Uchidas depictions of Yukis Issei parents, who are
never offered up as examples of either exotic or abject Japaneseness. Rather, they are shown to be kind, compassionate, capable
human beingscomplete with the quirks of individual personalitieswho must deal with the irrational, disorienting, and destructive forces of wartime hysteria twinned with racism.
Writing the two Journey books seems to have spurred Uchida to
pen a fully autobiographical account for an adult audience. Additionally, the redress and reparations movement, which resulted in
the establishment of the Committee on Wartime Relocation and
Internment of Civilians (CWRIC) in 1980 and the testimony of
hundreds of former detainees in 1981, had collectively reawakened
painful memories and reignited anger at governmental abuse of
power. The social and political climate had also shifted, largely
due to the civil rights movement and various ethnic power movements. Thus, the context in which Uchida wrote Desert Exile was
markedly different from that in which, for instance, Monica Sone
wrote Nisei Daughter (1953), another well-known autobiographical account of a Nikkei familys forced removal and imprisonment
during World War II.10 While the two texts share some similarities
in terms of approach and narrative strategy, Uchidas text is more
explicitly political and pointed in its purpose.11 Uchida makes ref-

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erence to the changed political and social landscape in the epilogue to Desert Exile: If my story has been long in coming, it is
not because I did not want to remember our incarceration or to
make this interior journey into my earlier self, but because it took
so many years for these words to find a home.12
Uchidas evocation of home here is significant, as Desert Exile
is a text in which homes are dismantled, lost, packed away, taken,
and recalled in absence. Indeed, critic Sau-ling Wong writes that
Uchidas book is about the un-doing of home-founding, and that
the photographs throughout the text are a graphic rendition of
this process.13 The photographs Uchida includes visually outline
the trajectory of the narrative: the parents early adulthood in
Japan, the growing community of Nikkei and the establishment of
social and religious organizations, and the Uchida familys home
life in Berkeley, California. Then, after Uchidas account of the
bombing of Pearl Harbor, the personal photos give way to file photographs that, as Wong notes, are striking in their exteriorization
and objectification of the Japanese Americans.14 Instead of the
likenesses of Mr. and Mrs. Uchida, and of Yoshiko and her older
sister, Keiko, we see crowds of people standing amid luggage piled
on the sidewalk or waiting en masse to board buses under armed
guard. The photograph of the Uchidas Berkeley home gives way
to one of the horse stalls at Tanforan and a wide-angle shot of the
rows upon rows of barracks at Topaz. Wong observes that once
the narrative of the war years begins, There are no more photographs of houses: home has been undone, and having to salvage
from its ruins is not the same thing as home-founding.15 In a similar vein, literary scholar Helena Grice argues that, in contrast to
the tendency for autobiographical writing to document formative
moments in the writers life, Desert Exile charts the deformative
moments of the internment experience and its aftermath.16
While it is true that Uchidas narrative and inclusion of photographs attest to the deconstruction of notions of home and normative trajectories of self-formation, Uchidas discursive and visual
texts also suggest, if not a counternarrative, a parallel narrative
that combines a critique of the Nikkeis wartime treatment with

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a deep appreciation for her parents and for Issei culture. Uchidas
respect for the Issei comes through clearly in a late passage from
Desert Exile:
A Japanese American recently asked me how the fourth generation Japanese Americans could be proud of their heritage when their grandparents
and great grandparents had been incarcerated in concentration camps. I
was stunned by the question, for quite the contrary, I think they should
be proud of the way in which their grandparents survived that shattering
ordeal. It is our country that should be ashamed of what it did, not the

Japanese Americans for having been its victims.17

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Uchida here links the affirmation of Issei strength with the unconstitutional context in which that courage became legible. She further characterizes that context as shameful, a powerful indictment
given the resonances of shame in Japanese culture. Uchidas very
vocabulary reflects the trend, beginning in the late 1970s, to refuse
to adopt governmental euphemisms that had entered into the general parlance in the decades following the war. Thus, Uchida does
not use the phrase interned in relocation camps. Rather, she
uses the more forceful and legally accurate phrase incarcerated
in concentration camps. Of note, also, is Uchidas use of the word
victim, which she does not deploy as an identity but as a signal of
the Nikkeis subjugation to a series of governmental edicts and
orders over which they had no control. As her narrative makes
clear, from beginning to end, her parentsand by extension, the
Issei as a groupdid not fall into passive lassitude, as the often
misunderstood phrase shikata ga nai (it cannot be helped)
might indicate. We might better understand the phrase to register something more akin to it is what it is. Coupled with the
foundational concept of gaman, which is often simply translated
as perseverance but which has deeper resonances as a way of
enduring what seems unbearable with dignity, patience, and quiet
strength, Uchidas parents, like so many other Issei, carried on as
best they could. Absence of victimized complaint should not be
taken for compliance.

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Uchidas parents, Dwight Takashi and Iku Uchida, were fiftyeight and forty-nine years old, respectively, in 1942. Both had been
in the United States for at least twenty-five years (Uchidas father
for thirty-six years) and might have expected to enter into a wellearned retirement, having raised to young adulthood their two
daughters, at that point twenty-one and twenty-five years old.
However, Uchidas father was taken for questioning by the FBI the
afternoon of the Pearl Harbor bombing, not to be reunited with
his family until they had been in Topaz for some time. Uchidas
mother and the two daughters were left to deal with the chaos
of selling, storing, and packing their belongings for their forced
removal to the hastily converted horse stalls at the Tanforan racetrack in San Bruno, California.
Throughout Uchidas description of these ordeals, her parents
emerge as steady, warmly dignified, and gracious with regard to
their daughters and their communitys well-being. Indeed, in a
letter written to Uchida in May 1982 (clearly the letter to which
Uchida replies in her 29 May 1982 letter quoted above), Min
Okubo focuses a great deal on the similarities between their parents. She writes:

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Your story of your family is important and valuable because it


brings out and explains the strong human ties and relationships
between the Japan born and educated Issei parents and their
American born and educated nisei children. The values, learning, understanding and respect which can only come by living
together. The parents hard work, struggles and [?] and dedication
for a better life for their children. . . . I liked the dignity and humor
that your parents radiated.18

In addition to the political commitments the two artists shared,


they also both felt enormous respect for their parents and the generation of immigrants they represented. Both believed that the
American population at large, and the Sansei and Yonsei generations in particular, did not have an appreciation for the cultural
background, struggles, and legal limitations within which the Issei

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founded Japanese America. Okubo, in fact, takes the Sansei generation to task. Many, in light of the 1981 CWRIC hearings, had
begun to criticize what they saw as Issei and Nisei wartime compliance and passivity:
Your family story can help explain some of the whys of the evacuation which the sansei the 3rd generation-children cant seem to
comprehend because they are living entirely a different time with
liberated thoughts but have not lived or experienced the reality of
people and life.

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This is a more straightforward and acerbic version of Uchidas own


shock that later generations would ask how they could be proud of
their background, given the history of removal and incarceration.
But the force of Okubos feelings is evident throughout the whole
of Uchidas Desert Exile. The descriptions of her parents and the
care with which she draws a portrait of the prewar Nikkei community implicitly make the argument that the Nisei and subsequent
generations owe the Issei a great debt. Because we Nisei were still
relatively young at the time, it was largely the Issei who had led the
way, guiding us through the devastation and trauma of our forced
removal. . . . The evacuation was the ultimate of the incalculable
hardships and indignities they had borne over the years.19
Desert Exile progresses to a close with two last photographs,
the only ones of the Uchida family since those depicting their prewar life in Berkeley. In one, taken at Topaz, Uchida and her older
sister are dressed in suits on the day they are to leave camp to
begin the fall term at their respective colleges on the East Coast.
The barracks form the pictorial backdrop, a reminder of what the
daughters are leaving and what the parents must return to. It is a
photograph that perhaps epitomizes the ethos of the Issei parents:
to subordinate their own desires for their childrens presence to
the necessity of supporting them so that they can physically, and
hopefully psychically, leave the space of the camp. The final photograph, taken in 1950, shows the family gathered to celebrate Uchidas grandmothers eighty-eighth birthday. Thus, the sequence of

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photos representing removal and incarceration are bookended by


those that attest to the familys survival and cohesion after the war.
However, the visual rhetoric that emblematizes the survival
of the family should not be taken as a habitual privileging of the
heteronormative nuclear family, or as an indication that the experience during the war had been a minor, character-building blip.
Uchida makes clear that her own familys experience is neither
paradigmatic nor typical, noting that for many families, the tensions of one-room living proved more destructive. Many children drifted away from their parents. . . . The concept of family
was rapidly breaking down, adding to the growing misery of life
in camp.20 In order for families to remain intact, parents had to
actively intervene to provide structure in an otherwise unstructured, though constricted, environment. Uchida writes that her
parents helped my sister and me channel our anger and frustration. . . . Our anger was cathartic, but bitterness would have been
self-destructive.21 The perceptive reader will note the presence of
this anger throughout, and it is this same anger that Uchida registers in her 1982 letter to Okubo when she writes, The passage
of time and the knowledge now of our govt leaders betrayal has
increased my anger.22 However, rather than fully articulating and
performing that anger in the text, Uchidas anger subtly motivates
and shapes Desert Exile. She molds her anger to a pedagogical
purpose, seeking to effect change rather than simply to tell a personal story of what she and her family endured.
As she recounts in Desert Exile, Uchida served as an elementary
school teacher while incarcerated at Topaz and upon her release
attended Smith College, where she obtained a masters degree in
education. Though she taught for only a couple of years before
deciding to devote herself to writing full time, that pedagogical
impulse runs through all of Uchidas work, though in an imaginative and artistic rather than pedantic way. Her body of work is
animated by several related key purposes: introducing Japanese
culture and folk practices to non-Nikkei audiences; creating a
Nikkei presence in childrens and young adult literature, whether
through Japanese characters in Japan, Japanese Americans in the

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United States, or Issei and Nisei relationships; affirming the dignity and strength of the Issei generation; and writing about the
wartime incarceration of Japanese and Japanese Americans.
Though Uchida began writing directly about Nikkei incarceration during the war only in the latter part of her career, she was
motivated from the very beginning by what had happened to the
Issei and Nisei, the denigration of Nikkei identity and culture,
the need for later generations of Japanese Americans to find a
sense of continuity with their past, and the belief that all Americans should not forget that the United States ran governmentsanctioned concentration camps into which innocent civilians
and American citizens were forced.23
However, we should also remember that Uchida was not a
polemicist; she was a writer and artist. Her tools were not the
manifesto, treatise, or tract but rather narrative, plot, and dialogueall underpinned and shaped by the complex interplay
between memory and imagination. In this, we might well look to
the influence of Uchidas mother, Iku Uchida, who throughout her
life wrote tanka (thirty-one-syllable poems) under the pen name
Yukari. Uchida includes several of her mothers tanka in Desert
Exile, three of which close the main body of the narrative. Like
the photographs, Yukaris tanka provide a counternarrative that
both registers and transforms raw experience. Uchidas mother
continued to compose tanka during her incarceration, and her
poems note the stark, barren landscape, the dust storms, and the
loneliness and isolation of those around her, even as her lyrical eye
includes the wide-open sky and the beauty of the desert sunset.
This combination of perspicacious observation and gentle lyricism seem to emblematize Iku Uchidas personality. Though of an
artistic bent and a gentle nature, she had nevertheless, as a twenty-four-year-old, crossed the Pacific by herself to marry Dwight
Uchida, a man she had yet to meet. Uchida writes admiringly of
her mother, as well as of all the Issei women, who must have had
tremendous reserves of strength and courage. . . . Theirs was a
determination and endurance born, I would say, of an uncommon
spirit.24

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It seems appropriate to pay the same tribute to Yoshiko Uchida,


who, over a body of work spanning more than forty years, affirmed
Nikkei culture and gave voice to an experience that had threatened
to permanently fracture Japanese America. But Uchidas purposes
extended beyond the Nikkei community: she wanted to use her
writing to educate people so that what happened during World
War II would not happen again to anyone, and she particularly
founded her hopes in educating young people through her writing
and frequent talks to primary and secondary school groups.
In a June 1983 postcard to Okubo, congratulating her on the
reissue of Citizen 13660, Uchida sends busy greetings: I know
exactly what you mean about having no time. Im feeling the same
pressures from walking the dedicated road. Did have a wonderful
trip to Hawaii, however, where I spoke at a conference and some
schools.25 An artist, writer, and teacher at heart, Yoshiko Uchida
was truly an uncommon spirit who walked the dedicated road.

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notes
1 Many thanks to Dr. Hillary Jenks, director of the Center for Social Justice and Civil
Liberties, for bringing this and other archival materials relating to Uchida and Okubo
to my attention. Yoshiko Uchida, letter to Min Okubo, 29 May 1982, folder 1, box
20, Min Okubo Collection, Center for Social Justice and Civil Liberties, Riverside
Community College District, Riverside, California.
2 Shirley Geok-lin Lim, A Memory of Genius, in Min Okubo: Following Her Own
Road, ed. Greg Robinson and Elena Tajima Creef (Seattle: University of Washington
Press, 2008), 186 (gruff ). Greg Robinson, A Tribute to Min Okubo, in ibid., 181
(a commanding personality).
3 Nikkei refers to anyone of Japanese descent and Issei to immigrant or first-generation
Nikkei in the United States. Nisei, Sansei, and Yonsei denote, respectively, second-,
third-, and fourth-generation American-born Nikkei. It is important to note that
although the Nisei are referred to as second-generation, they are actually the first
American-born generation.
4 Anonymous, That Damned Fence, Japanese-American Internment Memories,
n.d., http://japaneseinternmentmemories.wordpress.com/ category/ japaneseinternement-poetry/ (15 June 2014).
5 In addition to Desert Exile, Uchida wrote a novel for adults, Picture Bride (1987;
reprint, Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1997). Uchida also authored a
somewhat anomalous book, We Do Not Work Alone: The Thoughts of Kanjiro Kawai
(Kyoto: Kawai Kanjiro House, 1973), which is based on conversations Uchida had
with Kawai, whom she got to know well during her fellowship in Japan.
6 Yoshiko Uchida, The Dancing Kettle and Other Japanese Folktales (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1949).
7 Yoshiko Uchida, Desert Exile: The Uprooting of a Japanese American Family (Seattle:
University of Washington Press, 1982), 152 (page 153, this volume).
8 Ibid., 152 (page 154, this volume).
9 Yoshiko Uchida, Journey to Topaz (1971; reprint, Berkeley, CA: Heyday, 2004).
Yoshiko Uchida, Journey Home (1978; reprint, New York: Aladdin Paperbacks, 1982).
10 Monica Sone, Nisei Daughter (1953; reprint, Seattle: University of Washington Press,
1979).
11 For an extended discussion of Sones and Uchidas autobiographies, see chapter 3
in Traise Yamamoto, Masking Selves, Making Subjects: Japanese American Women,
Identity, and the Body (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999).
12 Uchida, Desert Exile, 154 (page 155, this volume).
13 Sau-ling Wong, Reading Asian American Literature: From Necessity to Extravagance
(New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1993), 136.
14 Ibid., 137.
15 Ibid., 13738.

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16 Helena Grice, Negotiating Identities: An Introduction to Asian American Womens


Writing (Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2002), 175.
17 Uchida, Desert Exile, 148 (page 149, this volume).
18 Again, my thanks to Hillary Jenks for alerting me to this letter. Okubos handwriting
and the fading of the ink make for difficult reading. I have transcribed the quoted
passages to the best of my ability. The bracketed question mark indicates where the
original is illegible. Min Okubo, letter to Yoshiko Uchida, 14 May 1982, folder 1, box
43, Min Okubo Collection, Center for Social Justice and Civil Liberties, Riverside
Community College District, Riverside, California.
19 Uchida, Desert Exile, 142 (page 144, this volume).
20 Ibid., 123 (page 124, this volume).
21 Ibid., 148 (pages 14950, this volume).
22 On the representation of anger in Uchidas narrative, see chapter 3 in Yamamoto,
Masking Selves, Making Subjects.
23 Uchida, Desert Exile, 154 (page 156, this volume).
24 Ibid., 6 (page 6, this volume).
25 Yoshiko Uchida, postcard to Min Okubo, 15 June 1983, folder 1, box 70, Min Okubo
Collection, Center for Social Justice and Civil Liberties, Riverside Community College District, Riverside, California.