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Japanese American ancestry in America has been divided into five generational terms. The first generation is the Issei, the generation of Japanese born in Japan but later immigrated to America. The Nisei are the first generation of Japanese born in America to at least one Issei parent. Sansei is the third generation born to at least one Nisei parent. Yonsei is the fourth generation born to at least one Sansei generation. And the Gosei is the fifth and final generation born to at least one Yonsei generation. And with each passing generation, traditions and customs are lost as the new American practices are adopted.
What doesn't go away is the ancestral memory buried deep within the marrow of the bones and the blood that flows through the veins. The souls of a thousand warriors are at the ready whenever courage is needed.
Yonsei is a book about the fourth generation of Japanese descent born in America. It is a generation that is so far removed from customs and devoid of any cultural significance. Yet, the heroine of the story is somehow being summoned back to a time in history by one of her ancestors, a female Samurai Warrior. Although separated by both time and culture, the similarities between the two are eerily familiar. Why would a strong, mighty female warrior reach out to an American who is only half Japanese and doesn't know anything about the rich history the role female Samurai's played in Japan's history.
This book is based on the strength and commitment to family and country. It is set in the real-life Japanese concentration camp Heart Mountain, Wyoming. It follows the interweaving of both white and Japanese Americans that were torn apart during World War II. These two families were as close as neighbors could be. Their children attended school together, played on the same sports teams, and both families went to the same church. The two seniors in high school were sweethearts whom everyone expected to marry soon after graduation. Everything changed on one day in December. On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked the air force base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The surprise attack caused fear and panic that spread like a virus throughout America, and a small rural town in Wyoming was certainly no exception. The Hayashi family was awoken from their slumber in the middle of the night by loud gunfire and bricks slamming through their front window. They could hear the voices of a large angry mob outside their home. Then a man, who sounded like their neighbor, Ned Hanson, said, "You have until sun up to leave this town; otherwise, these won't be warning shots." The couple, still in shock and disbelief, instructed their children to each grab a suitcase and go through their room and only take the essentials. When asked, they said they would all be returning in a few days for the rest of their belongings, although in their hearts, they knew they could never come home again.
This book sheds light on the untold story of the mistreatment of its American citizens by imprisonment in concentrations camps, which were later renamed "internment camps," the illegal seizure of land and property worth billions of dollars in today's dollars to the mistreatment of the Japanese Americans soldiers that fought for American's freedom.