New Book Recounts Camp Experience


"White Road of Thorns" translates journalist Asako Yamamoto's diary.

Mary Y. Nakamura holds a copy of her book "White Road of Thorns" during a visit to **The Rafu Shimpo.** She is joined by her husband Edward. (MARIO G. REYES/Rafu Shimpo)

Mary Y. Nakamura holds a copy of her book “White Road of Thorns” during a visit to The Rafu Shimpo. She is joined by her husband Edward. (MARIO G. REYES/Rafu Shimpo)

“White Road of Thorns” (244 pages, published by Xlibris) was written by author Mary Y. Nakamura’s mother Asako Yamamoto when she was held in internment camps for Japanese Americans.

The author greatly admired her mother and wanted to pay tribute to her by having her book translated in English.

This highly immersive book is a diary of Yamamoto (written under the pen name of Hisa Aoki) that covers the period from the time of the outbreak of World War II, her confinement at Santa Anita Assembly Center and at Gila Relocation Center in Arizona, until her selection as a passenger on the Gripsholm for the second wartime exchange of nationals between the U.S. and Japan. She was living in Los Angeles when the war broke out.

Aoki wrote on Dec. 7, 1941: “A bolt out of the blue sky, like water in one’s sleeping ear, unimaginably fearful, cruel this reality — indescribable waves of strong shock and fear over my entire body; if I try to stop it, it becomes even stronger and overcomes me!

“At present, Japanese airplanes are bombing Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor!”

One of the main reasons why the author wrote this book is the fact that many Americans are unaware of the internment camps and how Japanese Americans were treated during this time. This book aims to change this and illuminate the world on this matter.

The 70th anniversary of the war’s end allows many people to reflect on events of the past with civil rights issues continuing to plague society. This book is a timely reminder of how history continues to repeat itself. It is a true-life diary with no embellishments and shows a family’s hardships and suffering.

Nakamura is the elder daughter of Hisa and Tokumon Aoki. Born in 1929 in Honolulu, she moved to the Los Angeles area in 1934 and now lives with her husband, Edward. They have been married 65 years. She has a son, daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren. She worked part-time as a bookkeeper, accountant and office manager while her children were growing up and retired at 60 years old.

Nakamura took great pride in having her mother’s work translated and through this work, she was able to relive the memories of her mother during this impactful time in history. She is excited about the book and hopes to share her mother’s journey with many others.

The book is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.


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