Posts Tagged ‘Pearl Harbor’

Under the rising sun

The enemy came

Wearing my face.

And my face was changed forever.

Let us not repeat this part of history ever again.

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A very young woman, perhaps in her 20’s, asked me today, “What do you think of today? It’s December 7th.”  I told her I am consciously avoiding the subject because my public discussions in the past have resulted in negativism.

But when she said, growing up in the Mid-West, she didn’t even know of Pearl Harbor or of Hawaii until she read my Kapoho book, I felt I was being a coward by avoiding  political views on December 7th. So here I am today, not as a victim but as a writer, remembering and sharing a part of history.

“Your primary responsibility as Japanese American citizens is

to promote and strengthen relations between Japan and the United States.

If, however, war breaks out between the two great powers of the Pacific,

you have only one choice and that is, to serve your country as loyal Americans.”

by  Hiroshi Tahara, Principal of Papaikou Japanese Language School,  mid 1930’s. Tahara died in internment camp in New Mexico, in 1945.

Pearl Harbor, 1941

Under the rising sun

The enemy came

Wearing my face.

from Kapoho: Memoir of a Modern Pompeii

Immediately, a new word was added to my childhood vocabulary.

Eh Jap

It claws my spine

Tearing skin.

It enters my body

To devour who I am.

What do you do

With Eh Jap

On your face?

I spit it out. Bull’s eye!

from Kapoho: Memoir of a Modern Pompeii


“Leave,” I beg you.

“Japan surrendered,

My ancestors were fried.

The Arizona is rusting

At the bottom of the bay.”

My mirror whispers in sorrow,

“I can’t let them go.

We are prisoners of our face.”

                                               frances kakugawa, unpublished

jcch soldiers

Japanese Amerian soldiers from Hawaii during WW II

The 442nd and the 100th Battallion were the units from Hawaii.

names on wall

Names of Japanese American soldiers from Hawaii, killed or lost in action.

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  • The Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai’i and Watermark Publishing present a series of author readings and discussions with former educator and caregiving advocate Frances Kakugawa at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, 2454 S. Beretania St., on Sat., Nov. 10, 9:30am – 12:30pm.

    9:30 – 10:00am – Kapoho presentation (Historical Gallery); Frances will read from her newest book, Kapoho: Memoir of a Modern Pompeii and speak on the experience of growing up Japanese-American after the bombing of Pearl Harbor

    10:00 – 10:30am – Book signing at Author’s Table outside Gift Shop

    10:30 – 11:00am – Aging With Dignity (Historical Gallery); Frances will read from her works on caregiving and address the topics of: easing the burdens of caregiving through creative writing, how to bring dignity back to the caregiving experience, and coping with Alzheimer’s for families and children

    11:00 – 11:30am – Children’s book reading (Historical Gallery); Frances will read from her children’s books, Wordsworth the Poet, Wordsworth Dances the Waltz and her brand-new release, Wordsworth! Stop the Bulldozer!

    11:30am – 12:30pm – Book signing at Author’s Table outside Gift Shop

2454 South Beretania Street, Honolulu, Hawaii 96826

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Join me in Hawai’i or send the news to anyone you know through the Coconut Wireless!

Wednesday, December 7 |6pm – 7:30pm
Native Books at Ward Warehouse
1050 Ala Moana Blvd.
Reading & Light Refreshments
(808) 596-8885
Saturday, December 10 | 11am – 12pm ( signing)
Barnes & Noble, Kahala Mall
4211 Waialae Ave.
(808) 737-3323
Saturday, December 17 | 11am – 1pm (reading&signing)
Book Gallery, Hilo
259 Keawe St.
(808) 935-4943
Saturday, December 17 | 3pm – 5pm ( lecture and book signing)
“A Writer’s Pen” Workshop—The Writing Process and Memoir Writing
East Hawaii Cultural Center, Hilo 141 Kalakaua St.
Sunday, December 18 | 1pm – 2pm ( signing)
Basically Books, Hilo
160 Kamehameha Ave.
(808) 961-0144


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I’m very excited about book #10 coming to you this Fall

Pre-order from : Watermark Publishing : sales@bookshawaii.net

or signed copies from the author herself: fhk@francesk.org

Or meet me in Hawaii and/or  L.A./ Sacramento,  for book launch: Info to follow soon.

Down town, Kapoho, before lava destroyed it all. The billiard pool, the store and theater run by generator.

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December 7, 2010
December 7, 1941

Pearl Harbor, 69 years ago in a little village in Hawaii:

   Under the rising sun
   The enemy came
   Wearing my face.

Immediately after, a new word was added to my childhood

Eh Jap

   It claws my spine
   Tearing skin.
   It enters my body,
   To devour who I am.

   what do you do
   With Eh Jap
   On your face?
   Spit it out! Bull’s eye!

Today, I see myself in the photos of children in the news media. The enemy continues to wear the faces of children who will add new words to their vocabulary. We live our double-edged lives. My face is their face and so it will always be. Unlike my grandmother, who could not separate herself from what had become the face of the enemy, I had a choice to make.

My name is either Hideko Frances Kakugawa or Frances Hideko Kakugawa, depending on what document I am holding. My birth certificate carries the name my parents gave me and tells one story. My Social Security card bears the American name first and tells another. Either way, the history of the young girl I would have become is gone. The only face that was left for me to wear was my own.


   A crayoned flag
   Of Red, White, and Blue
   Waves from a chopstick
   Clutched in my hand.

   In the other,
   The Emperor’s chrysanthemum
   On a rice paper fan
   Covering half my face.

from my collection of short stories titled: The Enemy Wore My Face

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