From Thorns to Blossoms: A Japanese American Family in War and Peace (Paperback)

From Thorns to Blossoms: A Japanese American Family in War and Peace By Mitzi Asai Loftus, David Loftus (With) Cover Image
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Mitsuko “Mitzi” Asai was not yet ten years old in the spring of 1942 when President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 sent 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry—about two-thirds of them US citizens—from their homes on the West Coast to inland prison camps. They included Mitzi and most of her family, who owned a fruit orchard in Hood River, Oregon. The Asais spent much of World War II in the camps while two of the older sons served in the Pacific in the US Army. Three years later, when the camps began to close, the family returned to Hood River to find an altered community. Shop owners refused to serve neighbors they had known for decades; racism and hostility were open and largely unchecked. Humiliation and shame drove teenaged Mitzi to reject her Japanese heritage, including her birth name. More than a decade later, her life took another turn when a Fulbright grant sent her to teach in Japan, where she reconnected with her roots.

In From Thorns to Blossoms, Mitzi recounts her rich and varied life, from a childhood surrounded by barbed wire and hatred to a successful career as a high school English teacher and college instructor in English as a Second Language. Today, Asai descendants continue to tend the Hood River farm while the town confronts its shameful history. Originally published in 1990 as Made in Japan and Settled in Oregon, this revised and expanded edition describes the positive influence Mitzi’s immigrant parents had on their children, provides additional context for her story, and illuminates the personal side of a dark chapter in US history. It’s the remarkable story of a transformation from thorns into blossoms, pain into healing.

About the Author

Born on a fruit orchard in Hood River, Oregon, in 1932, Mitzi Asai Loftus spent three years of her childhood in government incarceration camps in California and Wyoming. For more than seventy years, she has given public talks about her family’s experience to audiences of all ages. Having lived much of her adult life in Eugene and Coos Bay, she now resides in Ashland.

Praise For…

“After World War II—when her family was removed from their community and incarcerated in concentration camps on American soil—grade schooler Mitzi Asai returned home to find herself ignored by former friends and classmates and her family alienated from neighbors. Mitzi’s hometown gained national notoriety for its venomous ‘No Japs Wanted’ ads and for its actions against Mitzi’s brother and other Japanese American military veterans. Mitzi Asai Loftus decried being treated as an ‘invisible object’ and eventually became a teacher and public speaker, bluntly revealing her family’s treatment. Loftus’ updated memoir offers fresh insights—from her father’s uniquely frank viewpoints to her own more recent reflections—inspired by queries from audience members and from her sons. In From Thorns to Blossoms, Loftus candidly and refreshingly tells her story ‘with [her] chin up.’”
—Linda Tamura, author of The Hood River Issei and Nisei Soldiers Break Their Silence: Coming Home to Hood River
Product Details
ISBN: 9781962645058
ISBN-10: 1962645053
Publisher: Oregon State University Press
Publication Date: March 5th, 2024
Pages: 228
Language: English