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Yoshiko Uchida

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Subject: The Invisible Thread, Topaz War Relocation Center, The Best Bad Thing, Bibliography of World War II, List of Smith College people
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Yoshiko Uchida

Yoshiko Uchida
Born (1921-11-24)November 24, 1921
Alameda, California United States
Died June 21, 1992(1992-06-21) (aged 70)
Berkeley, California United States[1]
Occupation short story writer, editor, novelist, children's book author, teacher
Genre fiction, folktales, nonfiction, autobiography
Literary movement Folk Art Movement
Relatives Keiko Uchida(sister)Iku Uchida(mother)Dwight Uchida(father)

Yoshiko Uchida (November 24, 1921 – June 21, 1992) was a Japanese American writer.


  • Life 1
  • Bibliography 2
  • Awards 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Yoshiko Uchida graduated early from high school in the 1940s and enrolled at University of California, Berkeley at sixteen. The Uchidas were living in Berkeley, California and Yoshiko was in her senior year at U.C. Berkeley when the Japanese attacked the naval base at Pearl Harbor in 1941. Soon after, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered all Japanese Americans on the west coast to be rounded up and imprisoned in internment camps. Thousands of Japanese and Japanese Americans, regardless of their U.S. citizenship, lost their homes, property, jobs, civil liberties and human dignity.

The Uchidas were not spared. Takashi was questioned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and he and his family, including Yoshiko, were interned for three years, first at Tanforan Racetrack in California and then in Topaz, Utah. In the camps, Yoshiko taught school and had the chance to view not only the injustices which the Americans were perpetrating, but the varying reactions of Japanese Americans towards their ill-treatment.

In 1943 Uchida was accepted to graduate school at Smith College in Massachusetts and allowed to leave the camp, but her years there left a deep impression. Her 1971 novel Journey to Topaz is fiction but closely follows her own experiences, and many of her other books deal with issues of ethnicity, citizenship, identity, and cross-cultural relationships.

Over the course of her career Uchida published more than thirty books, including non-fiction for adults and fiction for children and teenagers. She died in 1992.

Uchida became widely known for her 1982 autobiography Desert Exile, one of several important autobiographical works by Japanese Americans who were interned that portray internment as a pivotal moment in the formation of the author's personal and cultural identities.

She is also known for her children's novels, having been praised as "almost single-handedly creating a body of Japanese American literature for children, where none existed before.".[2] In addition to Journey to Topaz, many of her other novels including Picture Bride, A Jar of Dreams and The Bracelet deal with Japanese American impressions of major historical events including World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II, and the racism endured by Japanese Americans during these years.

"I try to stress the positive aspects of life that I want children to value and cherish. I hope they can be caring human beings who don't think in terms of labels—foreigners or Asians or whatever—but think of people as human beings. If that comes across, then I've accomplished my purpose."[3]


This is a partial list of Uchida's published work. Yoshiko Uchida wrote 34 books.

  • The Terrible Leak
  • The Dancing Kettle and Other Japanese Folk Tales (1949)
  • New Friends for Susan (1951)
  • The Magic Listening Cap: More Folk Tales from Japan (1955)
  • The Full Circle (1957)
  • Takao and Grandfather's Sword (1958)
  • The Promised Year (1959)
  • Mik and the Prowler (1960)
  • Rokubei and the Thousand Rice Bowls (1962)
  • The Forever Christmas Tree (1963)
  • Sumi's Prize (1964)
  • The Sea of Gold, and Other Tales from Japan (1965)
  • In-Between Maya (1967)
  • Hisako's Mysteries (1969)
  • Sumi and the Goat and the Tokyo Express (1969)
  • Makoto, The Smallest Boy (1970)
  • Journey to Topaz: A Story of the Japanese American Evacuation (1971)
  • Journey Home (originally published as a short story)
  • Samurai of Gold Hill (1972)
  • The Birthday Visitor (1975)
  • The Rooster who Understood Japanese (1976)
  • The Bracelet (1976)
  • Jar of Dreams (1981)
  • Desert Exile: The Uprooting of a Japanese-American Family (Autobiography) (1982)
  • Best Bad Thing (1983)
  • The Happiest Ending (1985)
  • Picture Bride (1987)
  • Invisible Thread: An Autobiography (1991)
  • Magic Purse (1993)
  • Two Foolish Cats
  • The Magic Purse
  • The Birthday Visitor"
  • The Wise Old Woman
  • Tears of Autumn



  1. ^ "Yoshiko Uchida, 70, A Children's Author",  
  2. ^ Encyclopedia of World Biography, accessed November 7, 2006
  3. ^ Grice, Helena. "Yoshiko Uchida" in Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 312: Asian American Writers. Gale, 2005.

External links

  • Yoshiko Uchida papers and photographs (some materials available online) at The Bancroft Library
  • Guide to the Yoshiko Uchida papers at the University of Oregon
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