An 84-year-old San Francisco psychiatrist named Edward Wilson looks back on the days he spent in occupied Okinawa as a military psychiatrist not long after the end of World War II, and recalls the friendships he formed with a group of artists he met on the island.
In 1948, three years after Okinawa fell to Allied Forces in the Battle of Okinawa, Wilson is sent to the island to serve with U.S. Army troops stationed there. One of his few pleasures is tooling about the island in the bright red Pontiac he has had shipped from home, but he is shocked by the extent of the war damage he encounters on these excursions. One day he chances upon the Nishimui Art Colony, where he meets a group of artists living in little more than hovels, pursuing their activities with great passion even as they battle hunger and extreme privation. Among them is Seikichi Taira, who studied at the San Francisco Art Institute before the war and can speak English. Having long had an interest in art, Ed not only purchases a number of their paintings, but arranges for art supplies to be sent from the United States?and even takes up painting himself under the artists’ tutelage. A remarkable friendship grows, transcending the relationship between occupier and occupied.
But then a shocking incident of the kind prone to occur under occupation conditions leads to an abrupt parting . . .
The work is based on the true story of San Francisco psychiatrist Stanley Steinberg. A portrait of Dr. Steinberg painted by Nishimui artist Seikichi Tamanaha and a self-portrait of Seikichi himself grace the front and back covers of the Japanese edition, offering an iconic backdrop to the narrative.