ABOVE: Jamie Ford, author of the New York Times best-seller Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, stands on the back porch of the 1912 Furuta bungalow at Historic Wintersburg. He writes about Seattle's Panama Hotel in his novel, which is our sister National Treasure relating to Japanese American history. (Photo, M. Urashima, March 22, 2017) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED ©
In advance of the author presentation tonight, Thursday, March 23, in Huntington Beach, we were honored to provide a VIP tour of Historic Wintersburg for author Jamie Ford.
Jamie Ford's best-selling novel, Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, is a historical fiction about the love and friendship between Henry Lee, a Chinese American boy, and Keiko Okabe, a Japanese American girl, during the events leading to and during World War II removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans. A book review by the American literature magazine, Kirkus Review, notes the novel is "A timely debut that not only reminds readers of a shameful episode in
American history, but cautions us to examine the present and take heed
we don’t repeat those injustices."
LEFT: Joining the tour with Jamie Ford is longtime supporter of Historic Wintersburg, the Academy Award-winning director and actor Chris Tashima (left). Both Chris Tashima and Jamie Ford are instrumental in bringing Japanese American history to life through books and film. Historic Wintersburg's first fundraising event in 2012 was the Orange County red carpet premier of Chris Tashima's film Lil Tokyo Reporter, a chapter in the life of civil liberties advocate and Southern California attorney Sei Fujii. (Photo, M. Urashima, March 22, 2017) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED ©
The "hotel" referenced in the novel is the 1910 Panama Hotel in Seattle, Washington's International District, which is the sister National Treasure to Historic Wintersburg, both sharing Japanese American history. The Panama Hotel is the same age as the 1910 Wintersburg Japanese Mission and manse (parsonage) at Historic Wintersburg, now 107 years old.
The Panama Hotel was built by the first Japanese American architect in Seattle, Sabro Ozasa, and contains the Hashidate-Yu, last remaining Japanese bathhouse (sento) in the United States. Seattle's Japanese American community stored their belongings in the Hotel's basement, prior to leaving for forced confinement at Minidoka War Relocation Center in Idaho. Those belongings, never recovered, still remain in the basement of the Hotel, now designated a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Hotel visitors get a glimpse of the boxes and luggage left in the basement 75 years ago, through a window installed in the lobby floor.
RIGHT: The Wintersburg Japanese Mission and Manse (parsonage) after their construction in 1910 remain standing at Historic Wintersburg. These buildings are the same age as the Panama Hotel in Seattle, featured in Jamie Ford's novel, Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. (Photo, Courtesy of Wintersburg Church, 1910) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED ©
Jamie Ford's novel shares the human side of the events of 75 years ago, with insight into Seattle's history, humor and the unique perspective of a Chinese American boy grappling with the trauma of seeing his closest friend forced into confinement solely due to her Japanese ancestry. This story has parallels to events in Wintersburg Village and Huntington Beach, 75 years ago.
You can meet Jamie Ford tonight, March 23, at this year's HBReads free author event, 7 pm, at the Huntington Beach Central Library. More information at http://hbreads.com/events/
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No part of the Historic Wintersburg blog may be reproduced or duplicated
without prior written permission from the author and publisher, M. Adams