When I run into and get to know mixed-race American-Japanese people in the U.S., most of the time, they mention histories of being confused about who they were, their identity. Although, let’s say out of fifty persons I knew, seven or eight of them did not tell me that they questioned their identity, about confusion, the others did. I am one who never had any questions of who I was. But I also began noticing that those who questioned their identity, were mostly born in the United States, or left Japan as a child, before they could form too many sentences. Since American-ness is a place of individuals disconnected from communities, where people must craft their intimacies and friendships and relations, it began to dawn on me that this was not a surprise.
Equally so, was that I was quite sure of who I was and never questioned who I was or what I was.
In the winters, a food I looked forward to was: Oden.
A light broth stew, with assorted mountain and sea vegetables, and assorted deep fried and boiled mixtures and garden vegetables, made for a hearty and warm emotional satisfaction. What heightens its tastiness and sensual pleasure, was that in the olden days, when I was a child, we’d sit in the warm kotatsu (heated table) on the tatami floor, on the zabuton (cushions), while in the middle of the table there was a hearth where there was a hibachi grill area to cook.
December 7th. In any year, in the United States, it is memorialized.
Just what is memorialized?
Memory. . . . . . What is it? Memory of What? For what?
Of course. We mourn. the loss.
Veterans of the U.S. military who were alive at the time, who experienced it, must remember it, perhaps simply to honor their friends and fellow military friends who perished, or whose lives were maimed.—But . . . . . . .
My BOOK is, for the FIRST TIME in six years of being in the works with the publisher, is ON TRACK!
For the first time, the ENTIRE manuscript has been proofed and is being reviewed for final edits and placement of photos. This has never happened! So it is going to be ready by next fall!
The many photos need to be placed throughout the book in the right places, the captions need to be cleaned up, and then the Index needs to be done.
While this is going on, those doing extra chapters such as the Introduction, will be able to read the manuscript and write their pieces for the Front Matter.
So it feels GOOD to finally be in the “BOOK IS HAPPENING” stage, and no longer in the start-and-stop phase.
The book by Terese Svoboda, Black Glasses Like Clark Kent (Graywolf Press 2008), tells the personal true story of Svoboda’s journey, beginning with her Uncle who becomes depressed, then takes his own life.
Her uncle served in the US Occupation of Japan, working as a Military Stockade guard.
One of the most interesting and revealing pieces of art and history, as well as what I think to be among the most “valuable” from the U.S.-Allied Occupation of Japan, is Bill Hume’s cartoon book: Babysan: A Private Look at the Japanese Occupation.
A great review of this book can be found at the Japan Society, written by Kim Brandt:
This book gives a great glimpse into how American soldiers viewed their stay in Japan, as Occupiers, as boys who have left home, as military personnel, who were largely becoming intimate with a “Japan” through their relationships with their own ideas about “Oriental” women and Japanese women themselves. In my own work, I focus much on the more intense violent interactions in order to make points related to uneven relations, nation-building, and the tactics and thinking that create the will, desire, and the unspoken aspects of military occupation and empire-building in our world, whether past or present, and most likely the same building blocks that will be re-created in structural procedures and people’s minds in the future. Babysan looks at these these things in the intimate everyday, through their loneliness, need for affection and sex, and their position as conquerors, as male.
Blog-post by Mark Makino – on the Japanese term: “Gaikoku-Jin” which translates: “Outsider-foreigner”
Mark Makino‘s post on the embedded aspects of race, nation, colonialism, and Japanese identity in the term: Gaikoku-Jin (Outsider-Foreigner):
Foreign? Western? White? Non-Japanese? Occidental proboscis monsters?
My need to think about Blackness in Asia goes far beyond the fact of my father being an African-American soldier stationed in Japan during the Korean War. It goes beyond anti-Black attitudes among Asians that I have experienced, and the anti-Asian attitude I have experienced among African-Americans today. I knew that a superficial and very American notion of anti-black racism in the United States would not do to understand my own place in history and the languages I would use to uncover and do my part to undo its power in the world.
Mama and I would like to go to certain neighborhood restaurants, usually small, with the traditional noren. Often they were the same places that made the Chahan (fried rice), or the Takoyaki (octopus balls) or the Ramen noodles. Small steamy places with the paper lanterns lighting their entrance.
Here is a recent article in relation to my last post, about biracial athletes in Japan: