Help Me Reach 12 on the Manly Scale of Absolute Gender

If you like the patriotic work we're doing, please consider donating a few dollars. We could use it. (if asked for my email, use "")

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Department of Book Reports: An Ocean Between Us

An Ocean Between Us, by Evelyn Iritani (Morrow, 1994)
We all know that saying about History repeating itself, and this book from 1994 shows several examples. Evelyn Iritani uses 4 stories to explain Washington states' fascination with all things Japan, and it has really had some resonance for me. She starts out with a story from 1834, when three sailors are ship wrecked off Neah Bay. I had never heard this story before! They were on a cargo ship, the Hojun-maru, limited to Japanese waters when a storm damaged their ship and carried them across the Pacific on the Kuroshio current. Taken as slaves by the Makah tribe, they were rescued by Dr. John McLoughlin, only to have his dreams of bartering them to open trade with Japan denied by the Tokugawa shogunate. They are given 30 coins and left to finally find lives outside Japan.

Next, looking at the early Yellow scares, leads us into the WWII internment of West Coast Japanese. It is here the Fear of the Other is closely echoed in today's treatment of the Mexicans in Arizona and elsewhere. Little was known of the actual attempted attacks by the Japan Army, their successful balloon campaign that killed a woman and 3 children in Blye,OR. Across the ocean, the Ohkuno Island Toxic Gas Factory employed school girls to build elaborate paper mache balloons that could drift across the Pacific with bombs as their payload. Following up with these students, Iritani tells us of the 50 year later reunions of these school girls and the families in Oregon.

In 1990, a Chinese tanker collides with a Japanese fishing boat, the Tenyo-maru and seventy thousand gallons of crude oil are spilled off the Olympic Peninsula. The local folks volunteer to rake up tar balls on the beach and send oiled birds to Seattle for re-hab. The fines in this case were leveled against the Chinese government, not the polluting fishing company company, leading the Makah to distrust the Japanese.

In the final story, we look at the take over of Port Angeles paper mill by the Daishowa company, and the conflicts that occur in a small town during the craze of Japanese Management circles and a time when it seemed their powerful economy was allowing them to buy any old American thing they wanted. The contrasting stories of union activist Dave Hoglund who tries to balance the new company's work styles and Yutaka Mochizuki, who tries to balance bringing his family to this strange new land. In this case, the new management was able to put money into long neglected facilities, that ultimately benefitted the workers and the town. Ironically, the mill was powered by cheap electricity from the salmon-decimating dam on the Elwha, now scheduled to be removed.

Throughout this book, I kept seeing much of the hysteria that is too prevalent now. I hope we will move past today's angst, and our better sides will prevail. In today's Washington state, kids adore Japan and all its trappings. I saw kids in Seattle studying Japanese and dutifully practicing their kanji . Our own son went to Tokyo with 2 other students for a field trip. I always found Chinatown & Japantown to be the most vibrant shopping districts, with the best Fruit & Veg stands, anywhere. Far from being a feared, reviled part of the populace, Japan has conquered the kids hearts and minds. And that is a good thing.

UPDATE: I was afraid I may have engaged in a bit of hyperbole in writing this book report. And then I saw this.

Here's something you all may be able to help us with. I'd like to rent this storefront, and have a tiny little bookstore. Thing is, I need some opening moneys. Rent is cheap, and I do think it can be recouped. But what's most exciting is a chance to have a bookstore in our local community. Much as I love the internets, there is nothing that replaces putting a book into someone's hands. I'd really like it if you bought a bunch of books, but if you're able to, and so inclined, a donation to our paypal will get you our undying loyalty.

I'm trying to figure out a bookstore membership format, that will get you a discount on orders. I'm fully aware that bookselling is a dinosaur in our current society and job force. I'm just crazy enough to love and want to continue doing it.

Please order your books from Jackson Street Books.As always, books ordered here will have a freebie publishers Advance Reading Copy included as a thank you to our blogosphere friends.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. As a grumpy person on the wrong side of middle age, I think it's DISGUSTING the way that kids ape those other cultures.

    I'm not talking about Japan, with its anime and hopped-up low-riding Toyotas or the general genki geekiness of the place. That's fine. Girls dressing up like Sailor Moon the schoolgirl prostitute and boys "turning Japanese" as they look at sadomasochistic comicbook porn -- all part of healthy yooffull exuberance.

    No, what gets me is this trend of American kids emulating the Moozelums. How many times have you walked into a mall recently and seen all the teenage girls dressed from head to foot in cover-up garments? You can't even pay them to go to the mall unless they have their parents along as chaperones for decency's sake. These Muzziesymp American girls insist on staying far away from the boys and holding onto their virginity like they were stoned-cold frigid.

    And the boys! I've read stories of store managers who can't get a decent days' work out of the young men because they spend so much time praying and ritually washing their feet. All that studying of classical Arabic language and repeating verses about purity... And when you try to lure one of them into the back of your unmarked white van by offering them liquor (not that I've ever tried anything like that) they scoff and say "Alkool is haram."

    No wonder the patriotikkk blogosphere is a-twitter about how sharia law will be imposed on the United States from the Islamaterrofascist command centre in the 101-storey-tall SuperDuperUberMegaGigantoMosque that they're building on Ground Zero. (That's the Ground Zero in Manhattan, not the Ground Zero in New Mexicomerica where peace-loving scientists with the Manhattan Project tested the atomic bombs that they used to pacifry those Nippofascists in Nagasaki before our kids started imitating them.)

    Have you heard that the GZM developers will use the bones of 9/11 victims as part of the cement for their Mosque of Domination? Neither have I, but the thought is out there, and with a little help from Glenn Beckkk and Bill Okkk'Reilly, soon at least 18% of the American population will know this for a fact.

    Where was I? Oh yeah -- kids these days! Wanna be Mahometans! We should bury them up to their necks in sand and crush their skulls with rocks! That'll learn 'em to be good Americans!


We'll try dumping haloscan and see how it works.