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"Today’s Thought" by Norman H. Osumi

Imagine the overwhelming task of writing a book about your personal hero, mentor—and father. Imagine wanting to write this book despite having no previous writing experience. While this goal may seem impossible to most, Norman H. Osumi’s book, Today’s Thought: Rev. Paul Osumi: The Man and His Message, is the product of just such a dream.

Norman Osumi

Reverend Paul Osumi touched countless lives through “Today’s Thought,” his daily words of inspiration that appeared in The Honolulu Advertiser and Hawaii Hochi for over thirty-five years.

After the passing of both his mother and father, Norman Osumi, the reverend’s youngest son, set out to collect those thoughts and share them with a new audience. While his father’s sayings from “Today’s Thought” had already been collected and published in three volumes, Norman Osumi, encouraged by his father’s loyal readers, aspired to do more than he initially intended to do, which was to archive his father’s boxes of letters, documents, sermons, photographs, and daily sayings.

With the help of multiple editors, his publisher, and June Kurahara, the manager and resource center volunteer of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, Norman Osumi has written a book integrating everything he learned about his father over ten years of research.

Today’s Thought: Rev. Paul Osumi: The Man and His Message, a collection of his favorite sayings with a biography of his father and samples of his sermons for the general audience to appreciate, is the result of this incredible labor of love.

Reverend Paul Osumi

The first section of the book is biographical, highlighting specific hardships of his father’s life. His father became estranged from his parents at the age of 14. He was unwanted by his mother who named him Sutekichi, meaning “throwaway.” Despite a childhood that might have led others down a path of despair, his father industriously managed to put himself through school, often earning tuition through academic scholarships. Much of this information was unknown to his son, Norman Osumi, until his research began.

In a recent interview about his book, Norman Osumi explained, “I was told by people that in my father’s generation fathers did not talk about their past to their children. As a son growing up, I saw him as a father and not a minister. He scolded me when I did something wrong and praised me when I did something good. I never asked him about his past because, growing up as his son, I had no real interest to ask him at that time. Only now, researching his past and finding out about many things that he went through, I want to know more about his life.”

Despite his financial and personal struggles, Paul Osumi eventually went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from the University of Hawaii and a master’s degree from the University of Southern California. After marrying and having children, he was imprisoned at Gila Relocation Camp during World War II. Despite the hardships he suffered, his father’s faith remained strong, and after his release and return to Hawaii, he devoted his life to religious ministry.

The second section of Today’s Thought: Rev. Paul Osumi: The Man and His Message is a collection of his father’s sermons, and the third section, a collection of the most memorable of “Today’s Thought.” One of his son’s favorite sayings appears on the book’s cover: “We can do anything for one day. Let us forget yesterday with its mistakes and failures. Let us not waste our time thinking of tomorrow’s burdens. For one day let us be happy. For one day let us not hurry, worry, fume, or fuss. Let us be kind, be cheerful, find no fault, and live our best—today.”

For a world seemingly wrought with tragedy—tragedies brought about by Mother Nature and human nature—Today’s Thought provides a much-needed source of inspiration and hope for readers. Like the Reverend himself, the book challenges readers to change the way they look at the world and to seek spiritual guidance during the dark times that are an inevitable part of our lives.

Although Reverend Osumi’s words of inspiration were written decades ago, young readers, whose only knowledge of the Depression, World War II, and the Japanese American wartime incarceration comes from history books, will find optimism and wisdom. In the words of his son, “Young people can learn from my father’s past that no matter what life brings to you, it is your decision to do something with it. All through his life, he did not make disappointments stop him from succeeding. [A life without parents and his imprisonment] did not stop him from what he wanted to achieve in life. I believe he had a very positive outlook in life.”

Beyond his words of wisdom, Reverend Osumi touched many other lives through the marriage ceremonies he performed in Hawaii. According to his son, the tradition of “Japan couples coming to Hawaii to get married in a Christian ceremony was started by him. It has and still is a yearly multi-million dollar business in Hawaii. I do not believe he realized what he started. There are so many companies and people that profited with this activity.”

Although he has no plans for another book, Norman Osumi has been making a number of personal appearances and has been available for book signings to promote Today’s Thought: Rev. Paul Osumi: The Man and His Message. In this way, he keeps alive his father’s legacy of wisdom—a loving tribute to his father and an everlasting gift to future generations.

Norman Osumi at a book signing at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii in August, 2013.


© 2014 Leslie Yamaguchi

authors books church work clergy Hawaii Hawaii Hochi (newspaper) Honolulu Advertiser (newspaper) Honolulu Star-Advertiser Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaiʻi Japanese language newspapers library materials newspapers Norman H. Osumi Paul Osumi publications religion Religious leaders Today's Thought (book) United States
About the Author

Leslie Yamaguchi is a High School English teacher in Southern California. She is a volunteer for the Japanese American National Museum where she writes articles for the Museum Store Online and helps out with book sales at public programs.

Updated November 2007

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