Musashi Mix Inq


Posted on November 1, 2010

Shadowland, ©MMX

My great uncle, Lt. Col. Steve Shizuma Yamamoto, is one of my heroes. While the rest of the family was locked away at Gila River Internment Camp, Steve was selected to become part of a special unit to fight in the Pacific. The US government shaped his language, culture and ethnicity into a weapon to fight the Japanese. As an officer in the Military Intelligence Service, Steve interrogated thousands of Japanese POWs at the detention camp in Papua New Guinea. The barbed wire fences made him feel right at home.

My family is from Hiroshima. When Steve landed on mainland Japan, he traveled to Hiroshima city to find the family and see the devastation first hand. At the border to the city, an MP told him that no one was allowed to enter. Undeterred, Steve borrowed a bicycle from a local kid and rode into Ground Zero—


After my grandmother passed away in the winter of 2008, I openned a ceder chest that had been locked for decades. I found many photographs and souvenirs that her brother, Steve, had sent her from the Occupation. Among these I found a few unlabeled 4×5 prints. My heart stopped. The desolate, burnt terrain. The branchless-black trees. A trolley smashed into a building. This is Hiroshima. I almost dropped them and ran, but the tears and reverence froze me solid. Steve never told me that he had brought a camera with him…


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