By Sadao Kajikawa
In his moving memoir, Sadao Kajikawa tells the story of two generations of second-born sons, or jinans, who rode waves of hope, despair, and success across two rival countries and one world war. At age eighteen, with only five dollars in his pocket, little formal education, and no command of the English language, Sadao left Hiroshima. He boarded the Tatsuta Maru alone in 1936 and set sail for his birthplace—an otherwise foreign and faraway country he had left when he was three. In Los Angeles, Sadao would join his older brother, Tadashi. Once reunited in LA, an unstoppable entrepreneurial drive would awaken within the Kajikawa brothers and lead to undreamed-of success. This fraternal force, born from unwavering filial piety and an invincible survival instinct, would sustain them throughout World War II, allow them to thrive once the Allies had declared victory, and withstand the virulently anti-Japanese climate of their native land. Despite the injustice of Executive Order 9066 and the loss of loved ones when the nuclear bomb razed Hiroshima to the ground, Sadao maintained his determined humility, having sworn his family would never know the hunger and insecurity he experienced as an impoverished child in Japan. Blurring definitions of homeland, in Jinan, Sadao describes how unbreakable family ties spanning two warring countries separated by the mighty Pacific allowed him to triumph over seemingly insurmountable odds. Sadao provides one man’s intimate, cross-cultural account that breaks the model minority mold and reflects the diverse and quiet-but-indomitable voices of the Greatest Generation. His book is an inspiring and timeless testament to the power, promise, and potential of the immigrant experience.