By W.T. WIMPY HIROTO
(First published in The Rafu Shimpo on Jan. 25, 2012.)
Here it is the start of Chinese New Year and even though there was a bit of precipitation to launch the fortnight of good tidings (Monday), hopefully there will be no raining on the Dragon parade at celebration’s conclusion, whether in San Gabriel, Las Vegas or Hong Kong. To think, in our lifetime, we’ve witnessed China represented by cheap toys advancing to world power status, our virtual banker. Where once coolie labor was imported to lay railroad ties, now we send envoys and corporate leviathans seeking lucrative business pacts.
There has never been a warm nor close relationship between Japan and the rest of Asia (China, Korea, the Philippines, Russia, Manchuria). Conflict has been a constant companion rather than peaceful coexistence. Madames Chang Kai Sheik and Butterfly had greater credence in the U.S. than Marcos, but not Valenzuela. There is not a place on the face of our earth that does not have a chop suey joint. On the other hand, 70 years ago a Nisei could travel mid-America and be mistaken for Indian, sometimes Geronimo variety, other times Gandhi. No disrespect meant.
The average pre-war Japanese family did not concern itself with the Rape of Nanking, Russian or Manchurian military conflicts. But let’s be real instead of naïve: there undoubtedly were motherland concerns and long-distance jingoism, but survival in America and the future of family was uppermost in the minds of Issei.
A pre-teen CR2S was fascinated by John Dillinger, not John Foster Dulles. When a Japanese ship arrived in port, it was a local holiday as families flocked to San Pedro to either greet returnees or bid farewell to the departing. I truly doubt military secrets were hidden in gift manju to the sailors. But I can be wrong. On occasion.
Anyway, folks, I can’t help but reflect back to the time when we were upper-case Oriental. It didn’t make me cringe, either, then or now. I mean I sure as heck wasn’t yellow but had to admit not being white, either. Nor black, brown, red or pink. When you’re a minor minority that wasn’t even a blip on the census map, you accept benign anonymity. Sorry, ACLU.
In due time the Nisei generation reached its zenith, almost in concert with Japan’s remarkable recovery from World War II devastation. Looking back, it was a great journey.
The Nisei are now near extinction and an aging Japan’s Rising Sun is sinking. Without doubt this is now the China Century.
By all accounts we’ve had a great sojourn, albeit a roller coaster ride. Up and down, chugging forward, careening perilously. We’re slowly approaching the dismount point in our lives. As a Disney ride, it was indubitably an “E!”
Pre-December 7th was merely a prelude, an introduction, Act One. What followed was a tragedy of unprecedented prejudice and hate. Then a completely new and exciting life presented itself, a Phoenix of our making followed. We wrote an unmatchable history that will never be replicated; a true one of a kind with all its ramifications.
It’s too bad the whole story really hasn’t been told. Nor probably ever will be.
I really don’t believe in all that astrological/zodiacal/Chaldean stuff. Except when it is meaningfully and expressly meant just for me. I mean, geez, I’m not exactly an easily swayed dork or dreamy ignoramus. If tomorrow a very important event or person will have an impact on what is left of my existence, amen, okay and so be it. I graciously accept without argument. Especially if it’s providential and pleasant. Shoot, people who believe only in blind luck should be shot. Allegorically speaking.
CR2S is a Sagittarius. I am a centaur drawing a bow. No jokes from the peanut brittle gallery, please. Thus I possess many fine, admirable traits, in case you missed the movie. It is said that Sagittarians are most compatible with Taurus and Aquarius. Unfortunately I can’t remember who “it” was, so am unable to affirm, let alone confirm.
CR2S is also a Dragon, one of the most *feared and *revered of Chinese calendar symbols (*authenticity also difficult to pin down since I’m just making a wild but educated guess). To be sure, even though a reptile, much preferred over Rat or Platypus.
W.T. Wimpy Hiroto can be reached by email. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.