Yokohama Yankee: My Family's Five Generations as Outsiders in Japan

Leslie Helm. Chin Music (Consortium, dist.), $15 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-0-9844576-6-3
Helm was the Tokyo correspondent for the Los Angeles Times when he realized that the majority of the articles he had written were "critical of Japan in some way." This was surprising considering Helm was born in Japan and is part Japanese himself. In this lovingly researched memoir, he sifts through five generations of Helms living in Japan. The first, Julius, arrived in Japan by way of Germany in 1869. Having missed his boat to China by "the length of [his] nose," Julius whimsically "booked passage on the next ship, which happened to be headed for Yokohama." After a brief stint training former samurai to fight like "Prussians", Julius married a Japanese woman, a highly unusual arrangement for the time. The Helm family story certainly wends an interesting course through history—from the Meiji Restoration through the World Wars—history buffs will relish Helm's painstaking detail and impressive command of the material. Some of the most endearing and personal scenes interwoven throughout the book are of Helm and his wife's process of adopting two Japanese children, Mariko and Eric. Through joys and anxieties, the present-day Helms examine what family ties really mean. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/2013
Release date: 03/01/2013
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Ebook - 466 pages - 978-0-9844576-9-4
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