Amy E. Smith
Toshiye Hirata holds in her hands a valuable letter. Its value doesn’t come from the fame of the writer or from historical significance—but rather from the intense depth of its personal meaning for her. The letter is a Namu Amida Butsu, a Buddhist expression of sincerest, heartfelt gratitude. It was written to her by her husband, Roy Ko Hirata. In the letter he thanks her from the bottom of his heart for how she raised two daughters and a son with him, diligently and lovingly, and how she worked side by side with him through the many hardships of their lives.
Henry and his sisters think of themselves as part of the Nisei generation, although their mother was also born in America. Typically, Nisei are challenged to live a mixture of Japanese and American culture. Having the opportunity to participate in school events gave him confidence socially. Still, on occasion, Henry felt he was different or separate from his classmates. For example, he knew instinctively that he could not openly date a Caucasian girl. Realizing the existence of such limits, he was torn between wanting to be accepted and having pride in his heritage…
For Karen Cairel, coming-of-age was a journey, involving many steps and the support of loving family ties. She treasures the model her grandmother provided showing her that adult life can be bright and positive. Karen’s religion of Buddhism and Japanese heritage provided the values that guided her to maturity. She remembers the support of parents who adjusted quickly as she began to make adult choices. In sum, she was warmly cared for as she made her way toward adulthood…
Since she was a young girl in French Camp, Katy Komure found her life defined by work. Despite a constant struggle to reach her goals, things had a way of working out for Katy. She focused on what she thought important and found she could succeed despite social barriers which stood in her way…
Dean Komure grew up, knowing in his heart, that if his word was good, he would always have something. That would be the pride of being a Japanese American. Dean learned this from his parents and it is what he has passed on to his children…
Within a young Japanese woman’s journey to adulthood, the culture does not offer one specific ritual or even that marks the moment that she leaves her childhood behind. Roxanne is no exception to the rule. While there is not one significant event that causes Roxanne to feel like an adult, she predicts that the sum of experiences that helped her grow and mature, will equate to Roxanne becoming a responsible and independent adult…