“I bid farewell to the faces of my sleeping children, as I am taken prisoner into the cold night rain.”
Family Torn Apart is the gripping story of one Hawaii family’s World War II odyssey. Otokichi Ozaki, a Japanese immigrant, was a Japanese language school teacher, tanka poet, and anthurium grower and also a leader of the Japanese community in the city of Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he was one of several hundred immigrant community leaders to be arrested, 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 Hawaii, and translated here for the first time, Family Torn Apart traces Ozaki’s incarceration at eight different detention camps, his family’s life in Hawaii without him, their decision to “voluntarily” enter Mainland detention camps in the hope of reuniting, and their subsequent frustration as that reunion bogged down in red tape and government apathy.
Relying on Japanese language primary sources, Family Torn Apart brings alive the Japanese immigrant perspective on the World War II incarceration, intergenerational relations, and life under martial law in Hawaii. It is a stirring story of the human spirit in difficult times and a cautionary tale for future generations.