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Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai'i to Unveil New Book in Hilo Family Torn Apart: The Internment Story of the Otokichi Muin Ozaki Family
Media Contact: Denise Tagomori Park/Office: (808) 945-7633 Ext. 27
Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai'i to Unveil New Book in Hilo
Family Torn Apart: The Internment Story of the Otokichi Muin Ozaki Family
Honolulu – The Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i is proud to present a new book Family Torn Apart: The Internment Story of the Otokichi Muin Ozaki Family that chronicles the gripping story of a Hawai‘i family’s World War II experience.
Otokichi Ozaki, a Japanese immigrant, was a Japanese language school teacher, tanka poet, anthurium grower and also a leader of the Japanese community in Hilo, Hawai‘i. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he was one of the community leaders of Japanese ancestry to be arrested and interned, beginning a long journey for Ozaki and his family.
Based on letters, poetry, and radio scripts in the collection of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i, and translated here for the first time, Family Torn Apart traces Ozaki’s incarceration at eight different detention camps, his family’s life in Hawai‘i without him, and their decision to “voluntarily” enter Mainland concentration camps in the hopes of reuniting.
“I must confess that I was too young to remember details of our experiences recorded in these pages, but the letters, poems, and memoirs stir my emotions as I recall bits and pieces of my early days. Indeed my mother’s letters provided me with vivid pictures of my innocently growing up in concentration camps,” said Lily Ozaki Arasato, youngest daughter of Otokichi Muin Ozaki. “This is still a great country, and I am proud to be one of its citizens, but we must never again treat families in such a discriminatory, impersonal and dehumanizing manner. Hopefully, our past will make all of us better human beings.”
“I want to thank the Ozaki family for publicly sharing their family story and their father’s collection of letters and poetry with us,” said Carole Hayashino, president & executive director of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i. “Through the publication of this rare collection, future generations will have the opportunity to learn about the unique World War II experience of Japanese in Hawai‘i.”
This book is possible thanks to the generosity of the Otokichi Muin Ozaki family. Eldest son, Earl Ozaki, donated his father’s papers to the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i Resource Center prior to 1994. Youngest daughter, Lily Ozaki Arasato, played an active role through the book project and shared family photos and memories of her father. Ozaki’s story is the second in a trilogy of books about the internment experiences of first-generation Japanese in Hawai‘i involving the efforts of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i Resource Center. The first book Life behind Barbed Wire: The World War II Internment Memoirs of a Hawai‘i Issei, a firsthand account by Yasutaro (Keiho) Soga, was produced and published in 2008 by University of Hawai‘i Press.
Family Torn Apart will be unveiled to the public at a special event on Saturday, April 21 from 9:30 am – 11:30 am at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Edwin H. Mookini Library. The event will include a roundtable discussion with Ozaki’s daughter Lily Ozaki Arasato as well as Jane Kurahara and Sheila Chun, JCCH volunteers who worked directly on the project. The session will be moderated by JCCH President/Executive Director Carole Hayashino. The event will also include a showing of the short film Honouliuli: Hawai‘i’s Hidden Internment Camp, a film produced by the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i. This event is co-sponsored by the Hawai‘i Anthurium Industry Association, Hawai‘i Japanese Center, and the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Edwin H. Mookini Library. The event is free and open to the public. Reservations are not required but appreciated. Please contact Audrey Kaneko at (808) 945-7633 Ext. 28 for more information.
The Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i, a non-profit organization, strives to strengthen our diverse community by educating present and future generations in the evolving Japanese American experience in Hawai‘i. Founded on May 28, 1987, the Center celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2012. The Cultural Center has 5,000 members and annually connects to more than 30,000 residents and visitors through its programs and events. The Cultural Center features a historical museum, an exhibition gallery, library/archive center, the Kenshikan martial arts dōjō, the Seikōan Japanese teahouse, and a Gift Shop. For more information call (808) 945-7633, email email@example.com or visit the website at www.jcch.com.
Ozaki in front of the Hawaii Mainichi (The Japanese Daily News) Building, where he began his career in 1924.
Courtesy of Lily Ozaki Arasato
Otokichi Ozaki, around the time of his arrest, c. 1941
Otokichi Ozaki Collection, Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i
Family photo taken in Honolulu to send to Ozaki in camp, 1942: Ozaki’s parents, Tomoya and Shobu Ozaki, second and fourth from left; and Ozaki’s wife, Hideko, with the four Ozaki children, from left; Earl Tomoyuki, Alice Sachi, Lily Yuri, and Carl Yukio.
Courtesy of Lily Ozaki Arasato
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Honoring our heritage. Embracing our dirversity. Sharing our future. The Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii (JCCH), a non-profit organization, strives to share the history, heritage and culture of the evolving Japanese American experience in Hawaii.
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