By Genpachi “Jūkichi” Tsushima
Translation by Kan Edmund Akatani
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald
“Child of a Hawaiian Immigrant” is a historical novel that conveys the events, social conditions and life of the author’s own immigration and personal experiences while being faithful to historical facts. The main character Yōichi is based on the events of the author’s life in Okayama, Japan, his life as an immigrant sugarcane worker in Waipahu, his educational and professional life experiences, and his World War II internment. It was the first place winner of the United Japanese Society of Hawaii’s novel contest in celebration of the 1968 centennial of Japanese immigration to Hawai‘i. To purchase a copy of the translated book, go to blurb.com/b/10379589-child-of-a-hawaiian-immigrant.
Chapter 10: Temptation continued …
Yōichi seated himself at the right edge of the central aisle to watch. There was a short Western comedy that ran for about 15 minutes. Faint lights came on. The place was almost full. Yōichi sensed someone come and sit next to him to the right.
“Shimazu-san, good evening,” a woman’s voice said. Turning, he saw that it was Mrs. Kobayashi.
Through the dim light, the shining white face of Mrs. Kobayashi was quite close. She was heavily made up with rouged cheeks. A mixed smell of white powder and perfume reached Yōichi. It was a fragrance that he had forgotten for a long time.
“Ah, good evening. I wondered who it was.”
Against the flustered face of Yōichi, Mrs. Kobayashi brought her ripe, peach-colored lips close and laughing, tauntingly said, “I followed you here, Shimazu-san. You usually go see a movie on Saturdays, don’t you? My husband went to a friend’s place in Honolulu, so I came. You don’t mind, do you?”
Yōichi was, first of all, surprised. For Yōichi, who had not mixed with women for a long time and who had immersed himself in work, a woman’s approach was not unwelcome.
“My husband said he would be staying with his friend for the night and would return tomorrow, so come to my place after the movie,” the woman said seductively.
To Yōichi’s ambiguous, “Eh,” her answer was a giggle.
She appeared to be enjoying the effect her boldness was having on Yōichi.
As the main feature would soon begin, the theater darkened.
“Do you like movies?” Mrs. Kobayashi pushed her thighs toward Yōichi, pretending to whisper in Yōichi’s ear. Her thick thighs were pressed close to Yōichi’s and soon the warmth of her flesh began to reach him. Yōichi did not move since he did not wish her to think that if he withdrew he was a coward, afraid of women. He was shaking slightly.
Since the movie had started, she did not speak to him but gazed at the screen intently. But Yōichi felt she was interested in his reaction. Maybe she was irritated Yōichi would not take the initiative.
When Takeo and Namiko were shown on the screen on their honeymoon at Ikaho, Mrs. Kobayashi put her mouth to Yōichi’s ear and whispered, “When I was in Tōkyō I went to Ikaho. Oh, it’s so nostalgic.” As she said this, pretending to be nonchalant, she took Yōichi’s right hand in both her hands and softly caressed it. The scent of her white powder and perfume again struck him. Yōichi became somewhat intoxicated with her clever flirtation. But he still retained enough composure to think of her as quite a vamp.
Since there were no people sitting around them, the two could converse in small voices without disturbing others. The woman would therefore put her mouth close to Yōichi’s ear to explain the story of the movie. Each time she did this, she would rub her body against Yōichi’s on purpose. Yōichi did not free his hand from hers and decided to enjoy the moment and let things run its course.
After climbing a short hill on their way home from the movie, they were adjacent to the sugar plantation. It was quite dark so they could not see where they were going very well. Although the woman did not take Yōichi’s hand, she walked very close to Yōichi, just like a lover. To a third party, it could only be seen as a rendezvous between lovers.
When they came to her cottage, Mrs. Kobayashi persistently asked Yōichi to come inside and have a drink of water. Yōichi, fearing that if he went that far he would be in dangerous waters, broke away from her grasp and returned to his camp.
That year, American Independence Day fell on a Monday, so there were two days off in succession, the preceding day being a Sunday. After breakfast on Sunday, Yōichi left for Honolulu by the first train. Yōichi, following his austerity policy, had decided to go to Honolulu once every month. Since he had already been in Honolulu two weeks previously, this was not a Sunday for him to go to Honolulu. He had decided to go nevertheless because he was afraid of catching Mrs. Kobayashi’s attention if he stayed in camp. Yōichi had no confidence in his powers of resistance if he were tempted any more by Mrs. Kobayashi. Yōichi lacked the confidence of resisting her temptation, but his sense of morality which told him to avoid sexual relations with another man’s wife was still very strong in him.
In his visits to Honolulu, Yōichi, not having any relatives there, had only his shipboard friend, Motoyama-san, to visit. He hit it off very well with Motoyama-san and his monthly visits to Honolulu were mainly to spend a happy time together with him. It was his habit to visit him on the third Sunday, so he was thinking that he may miss Motoyama-san when he called at his house on Kalihi Street. As he feared, Motoyama-san was not at home. When he inquired of a neighbor where he had gone, the answer was that he did not know. Since nothing could be done about it, Yōichi went to Waikïkï and wandered along the beach, went to the zoo and passed the time aimlessly until noon. In the afternoon, he saw a matinee at an American theater and returned to Waipahu on the 5:00 train. He had his dinner at the cookhouse kitchen and took a bath.
Although it was still 8:00, he felt tired so he went to bed.
The author, Edgar Genpachi “Jūkichi” Tsushima was born in Okayama, Japan, and graduated from Okayama Normal School, a school for teachers, at age 19 and came to Hawai‘i as a contract sugarcane worker. After graduating from the University of Hawai‘i at age 36, he worked as a Japanese-language teacher and news reporter for Japanese-language newspaper, Hawaii Hochi. Because of his occupation, he was interned during World War II mostly in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Tsushima died on July 9, 1985, at the age of 88.