No No Girl


In 1942, some 120,000 million Japanese, whether born in Japan or the United States, were told to leave their homes for internment camps until the war with Japan ended. They abandoned jobs, homes, and the property inside homes. One such family lived in Tustin, Orange County, California. The father of the family decided to dig a hole in the back yard to bury a chest filled with mementos on the eve of relocation.

Soon after No No Girl begins, the youngest member of the family, Mika Dyo (played by Sue Hasegawa), opens a box in a closet, consisting of love letters of mementos, and thereby learns about the buried treasure. The desire to obtain the buried chest then comes before the extended family, and the eldest member, Uncle Bob (Chris Tashima) says “No.” The house is now owned by someone else, and the daughter of the new owner wants to sell the house, so there is an opportunity to see where older members of the family once lived. When the White owner finds out about the buried treasure, the price goes up, but the owner will not allow the Japanese sons in the family to dig up the treasure. Several scenes then proceed without suspense as if making up film footage to become a full-length film rather than a short film. Nevertheless, the result is to demonstrate White disregard for Japanese culture until one day the treasure is brought home without no explanation how. The film also demonstrates the Japanese decision-making process, with everyone permitted to state their own views, with deference to the older ones, and consensus as a goal. Consensus appeared to be reached when younger persons did not contradict Uncle Bob, but then he had to deal with the fact that the issue remained open for discussion, indicating that no consensus existed after all.

During the film, directed and written by Paul Daisuke Goodman, a legal angle is presented but not given enough attention. For example, the house formerly occupied by the Japanese family presumably could have been reclaimed in 1945 and the chest might legally have been their property. Congress did grant reparations to the Japanese, but that issue was not raised either.  MH

Scroll to Top