Sanseido's New Concise English-Japanese Dictionary

Sanseido's New Concise English-Japanese Dictionary

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This is a English to Japanese translation dictionary issued by the United States Army to Higa Takejiro during World War II. Takejiro was a Kibei-Nisei, which meant that he was an American citizen born in America, but was educated in Japan. Takejiro was born in 1923 in Waipahu on the island of O'ahu in Hawai'i. When Takejiro was two-years-old, his mother took him and his siblings to Okinawa to meet their grandparents. When Takejiro was five-years-old, his father went to Okinawa with the intent of bringing them back to Hawai'i, where his father operated a small family store.
However, Takejiro's mother was sick with pleurisy and was unable to travel. Takejiro's father went back to Hawai'i with Takejiro's older sister and brother, but left Takejiro behind in Okinawa because they thought Takejiro was too young to leave his mother.
When Takejiro was only eleven, his father passed away from a heart attack in Hawai'i. The next year, when Takejiro was only twelve, his mother passed away from her illness. In the next two years following Takejiro's parents' deaths, his grandparents both passed away. Takejiro was taken in by his uncle and attended school until eigth grade. When Takejiro turned 16, he wrote home to his sister and begged her to raise enough money to send him back to Hawai'i because he was afraid he would be sent to the Manchuria Development Youth Corps.
Takejiro's sister was able to raise the money to send Takejiro back to Hawai'i in July, 1939. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Takejiro was afraid he would be detained at the Sand Island Detention Camp because he grew up in Japan. Takejiro enlisted in the United States Army and was put in the Military Intelligence Service as a translator because of his shared Japanese and American heritage and bilingual skills.
Takejiro struggled to learn English in the training camp, often studying late at night in the latrines so he wouldn't get caught and be punished. Takejiro's supervisor caught him once but let him keep on studying, for although Takejiro was breaking the rules, he was only breaking them so he could work harder.
Takejiro's intimate knowledge of Okinawa proved invaluable to his superiors as well. Takejiro was able to help the Army with their invasion in Okinawa and he helped save the lives of Japanese civilians and eventual POW's. Because Takejiro was bilingual, and knew the Okinawan dialect, his skills were instrumental in making sure civilians were extracted safely as the Americans moved up the coast. Takejiro coaxed people out of caves and other hiding places and assured them that they would be safe, and one person that Takejiro saved ending up being his teacher from elementary school.
Another time, Takejiro got to witness a wedding between a Japanese officer and an Okinawan girl; the officer surrendered voluntarily and promised to divulge all the information he knew to the American troops if they let him marry Arakawa Shizuko, the Okinawan company nurse. The Americans agreed and kept their promise, and Takejiro got to witness the wedding.
Takejiro never fired a single shot on Okinawa during the invasion, but he wished he could have saved more. His intention in going to Okinawa was to try and save as many innocent civilians as he could. Takejiro’s general let Takejiro visit his family and talk with them and the villagers they lived with.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Sanseido Company, Ltd
place made
Japan: Tōkyō, Tokyo
Physical Description
leather (outside material)
paper (inside material)
overall: 6 in x 3 1/8 in x 1 1/2 in; 15.24 cm x 7.9375 cm x 3.81 cm
overall, maximum (exhibit or expanded): 6 in x 6 1/4 in x 1 in; 15.24 cm x 15.875 cm x 2.54 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Takejiro Higa
See more items in
Political and Military History: Armed Forces History, Japanese American
Executive Order 9066
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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