Monday, July 20, 2015

Bridge to the Sun

Bridge to the Sun: A Memoir of Love and War, by Gwen Terasaki

This lovely memoir tells the story of Gwen Harold, who met a rising young Japanese diplomat, Hidenari Terasaki, at a party.  They fell in love and married...in 1931.  They spent their married lives working to build bridges between Japan and America.

Mrs. Terasaki's story starts with Pearl Harbor and then goes back to the beginning of their relationship, so that she can tell about their early years and how desperately her husband (called Terry) worked to avert the war.  The militarist faction was gaining power, and Terry was one of the people who worked against them, even risking his life in a last-ditch effort to subvert their power.  When war came, he was devastated, knowing that the whole thing was insane, and defeat was inevitable.

All the Japanese officials in the US were promptly interned in a hotel until they could be traded for the American officials stuck in Japan.  Then they boarded a ship bound for a rendezvous port, at which the trade occurred.  The Terasaki family then spent the war in Japan, making Gwen one of the very few Americans to live in Japan during those years.  Her story and knowledge of life in Japan during the war is rare and valuable.  Even in the post-war years, it was a long haul; years passed before she could write to her family in the US.

Terry was appointed to a position with the Emperor to work with the American government, which was very important work, but it (and the war) took an enormous toll on his health.  He literally gave his life to his country in his efforts to bring peace to Japan.

A really worthwhile read.  It made a big hit when it was published in the late 50s, and there was a movie made (which I think probably amped up the romance a good bit).  Mrs. Terasaki spent the rest of her life traveling and speaking on behalf of Japanese-American relations, and her daughter Mariko has done the same.



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