"Tadaima! What can Transnational History Reveal?," by Tom Coffman

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2019-10-11
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“Tadaima! I Am Home” unearths the five-generation history of a family that migrated from Hiroshima to Honolulu but never completely settled. In the telling, the traditional Japanese greeting “Tadaima!” takes on a perplexing meaning. What is home? Where most people establish roots in their new place, or return to their place of origin, or transmigrate to yet another place, the Miwa family represents a fourth category. Across two centuries, they went back and forth repeatedly and often. With one foot psychologically in Japan, the other in America, they attempted to maintain a life in Hiroshima and, variously, Honolulu, San Francisco, Denver and New York. In the process, they experienced internment, civilian prisoner exchange, the Atomic Bomb, and the loss of their possessions on both sides of the Pacific. Key figures were ostracized and, in moments, isolated from one another by conflicting notions of national power and correct behavior. Succeeding generations climbed from poverty to wealth, and then fell precipitously from wealth into poverty. The latest generations have regrouped by dint of intense determination and devotion to education, exercised against the strange transition from despised “other” to America’s model minority. They maintained a cheerful face that gave no clues as to what they had been through. Until now.
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