On a decrepit freighter headed for Japan in November 1943, a shivering boy stood on deck with his father’s arms around him. Wrenched from his home in Bangkok by the Japanese military, the boy wondered what fate awaited him. “Bunji,” his father said, “I doubt your life in Japan will be easy for you. Or that I can help you. But do whatever you must in order to live fully. Take risks and live. Make your own karma.” A week later, with his father’s execution for treason for aiding the British in Burma, Bunji became an orphan. Put into a Tokyo orphanage, he battles hunger, cold, and loneliness. Despite his misery, he wants to go to school. Remembering his father’s last words to him, at age 12 Bunji runs away from the orphanage only to become a starving street urchin in Kobe. Then, thanks to his resourcefulness and the kindness of many, he goes on to live a life full of adventures and accomplishments in Asia, the U.S. and Europe.

Author: Michael S. Koyama