Academic journal article Military Review

EDOKKO: Growing Up a Foreigner in Wartime Japan

Academic journal article Military Review

EDOKKO: Growing Up a Foreigner in Wartime Japan

Article excerpt

EDOKKO: Growing Up a Foreigner in Wartime Japan, Isaac Shapiro, iUniverse Inc., New York, 2010, 227 pages, $16.95.

Isaac "Ike" Shapiro has written a charming memoir of growing up in wartime Japan. The fourth son of Russian-born, stateless Jewish musicians, Shapiro was born in Tokyo in 1931, though he spent most of his young life in Yokohama. His grandparents lived for a time in Tokyo, and so the young Shapiro early took to calling himself an Edokko, literally, an Edo child, Edo being the pre-Meiji-era name for Tokyo. Technically speaking he was not; an Edokko is someone who is of the third generation to be born in Tokyo, but Shapiro found the Japanese were willing to tolerate the fancies of a young, blonde gaijin (foreigner). The author spends a short chapter on life in Harbin, Manchuria, where his mother, his three brothers, and he moved when he was only a few months old. The family moved back to Yokohama in 1936, and the bulk of the memoir focuses on Shapiro's school years at three English-language schools in Yokohama and Tokyo (all of which still operate). Along the way, in addition to the Russian spoken in his home, Shapiro picked up Japanese, English, French, some German, and a life-long love of learning and appreciation for other cultures. During the war years, Shapiro and his family evacuated to Tokyo and then farther inland. After the war, Shapiro returned to Yokohama in order to see the Americans landing, and the Americans immediately hired him as an interpreter. From there his life took another fateful turn. Taken under the wing of thencolonel, later lieutenant general, Toby Munn, U.S. Marine Corps, Shapiro finished high school in Hawaii, attended Columbia, naturalized as an American citizen, and embarked on a 50-year career as an international lawyer. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.