New Website, New Book and More
I am excited to inform you that my new book, Keiko’s Journey, will soon go to print. I have been working on this for over two years and it is deeply gratifying that my story has been documented.
I must admit, it was a painful experience for me to think back so many years ago and recollect the memorable moments in my childhood. There were so many times I wanted to give up writing this book because exposing myself to the world in this way made me feel afraid and vulnerable. Yet, deep in my heart, I was convinced that my story needs to be shared. I hope to inspire the thousands of men and women who are now going through the same torment as I did, stranded between two countries and feeling as though they don’t belong to either one.
I’d like to give you a little sneak preview of the beginning of Keiko’s Journey, a compelling story about a young girl’s life-changing experiences growing up in post-war Japan and America.
I would love it if you would take a few moments to leave me a message with your reaction to this portion of the first chapter of my story.
Chapter 1: Siren
Kokura, Japan, 1945
We stood on top of a hill, Mari and me. The sky was crystal clear, except for a few floating clouds that resembled thin sheets of white gauze. Yellow and black butterflies fluttered around me, eventually resting on the wild flowers that peeked out amongst the tall grass. The field of rolling, green grass stretched far into the distance and I wondered where it ended.
My friend, Mari, who lived close by, was three years older than me. She was tall compared to other girls her age. Her long, thick, shiny, black hair was gathered into a rubber band and pulled to the back of her head. I didn’t know why she paid attention to me, a girl so much younger. I enjoyed going to the bookstore with her, where we would spend hours looking at the books we wished we could buy. I looked up at her as though she was the older sister I didn’t have.
It was a typical July afternoon in Kyushu, the southern island of Japan. The temperature was in the 80s. It was too hot for adults, but perfect for us children. On this day, my mother asked Mari if she could go with me to the fields nearby to pick some yomogi leaves. She needed them to make my favorite manju. I loved eating this special Japanese confection filled with azuki bean paste, neatly tucked inside the green covering made of rice flour and yomogi leaves. When eaten warm, it would melt in my mouth.
When we reached the top of the hill, Mari and I raced to pick the leaves.
“Keiko, this is a contest! Whoever fills her basket full of leaves will be the winner!” Mari exclaimed.
I proceeded to pick the leaves as fast as I could. In the end, Mari was the winner. After the race, we lay on the grass looking up at the bright blue sky, giggling and laughing as we picked and threw the wild flowers and grass at each other.
Mari said, “I can hardly wait to go home and help our mothers make the sweet manjus.”
“Yes, we can have our own tea party!” I replied.
Suddenly, out of the clear blue sky, the shrieking sounds of the air raid sirens were around us. The loud, shrill sounds with short pauses seemed to come from all corners of the land. We stood paralyzed, staring into the sky as the siren grew louder and louder. I covered my ears with both hands and screamed, “Mari, Americans are coming to attack us!”
“Keiko, remember what our mothers told us?” Mari said, with a look of panic in her eyes. “Drop everything and start running for home. Quick, hold my hand and keep up with me!” Mari commanded. I started to cry, “Mari, I don’t want to leave all the leaves.” She screamed, “No, drop them and let’s go!”
I ran as fast as I could, trying to hold onto Mari’s hand with a tight grip. I stumbled and fell, and felt my body rolling down the hill, out of control. I heard Mari’s panic stricken voice, “Keiko, stop!”
The sound of the siren kept coming, closer and louder.
Mari came running down the hill, slipping and sliding, but kept her balance.
“Keiko, get up,” she said as she pulled me, grabbing my hands.
“Be strong and hurry,” Mari said, looking terrified.