One Thousand Days in Siberia: The Odyssey of a Japanese-American POW

One Thousand Days in Siberia: The Odyssey of a Japanese-American POW

One Thousand Days in Siberia: The Odyssey of a Japanese-American POW

One Thousand Days in Siberia: The Odyssey of a Japanese-American POW

Synopsis

Iwao Peter Sano, a California Nisei, sailed to Japan in 1939 to become an adopted son to his childless aunt and uncle. He was fifteen and knew no Japanese. In the spring of 1945, loyal to his new country, Sano was drafted in the last levy raised in the war. Sent through Korea to join the Kwantung Army in Manchuria, Sano arrived in Hailar, one hundred miles from the Soviet border, as the war was coming to a close. In the confusion that resulted when the war ended, Sano had the bad luck to be in a unit that surrendered to the Russians. It would be nearly three years before he was released to return to Japan. Sano's account of life in the POW and labor camps of Siberia is the story of a little-known part of the great conflagration that was World War II. It is also the poignant memoir of a man who was always an outsider, both as an American youth of Japanese ancestry and then as a young Japanese man whose loyalties were suspect to his new compatriots.

Excerpt

Patrick Sano

As we grow older, our values of things in life keep changing. What were valuable to us in childhood are now trivial and even frivolous. Those things we held dear in our middle age now in our senior years are considered less important. But we hope the day never comes that we would see life's experiences as mere paltriness. We should see life as a series of sacred profanities.

This excerpt was taken from an entry in the third volume of my journal, which is presently being edited and compiled. It was written for a particular event that occurred in my life, but I discovered that it also has relevance to the kinship between my brother Iwao (the name by which he is known to members of our family) and me.

There is a custom in Japan known as yooshi. It means "a son to be nurtured." It is a custom by which a son of a relative or of a close friend is given up for adoption to a childless man and woman to be nurtured, to bear their name, and to inherit their birthright. Perhaps it is a practice that is also carried on in other cultures and by others as well, but I will write as best as memory serves me how it has affected our family.

This custom was the cause, and its effect, the writing of this book. Neither could Iwao have written it, nor would he have . . .

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