An excerpt from The Red Kimono. Sachi hears President Roosevelt’s Day of Infamy speech as she reluctantly practices her o-koto lessons.


Nine-year old Sachiko Kimura was reluctantly practicing on her o-koto when she heard President Roosevelt break in on the radio with his Day of Infamy speech.

The o-koto is the national instrument of Japan. Introduced to Japan during the Nara period, (710-784), its ancestor is the Chinese zheng. It is made of kin wood and is seventy-one inches long with thirteen strings.

It is with my mother in mind that I wrote the scenes of Sachi and her o-koto. She played the instrument as a child and young woman, and I often wonder if she complained about all of the lessons she took as a child–okoto, dance, singing. My best point of reference was knowing I would grumble (at least internally,) so that’s how I wrote Sachi’s character.

Here is an excerpt from The Red Kimono:

Sachi knelt beside the long wooden harp on the floor of the…

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