"My father, came from Japan, in 1905
He was fifteen when he, immigrated from Japan
He, he, he worked until he was able to buy
To actually build a store"

Let me tell you a story in the form of a dream
I don't know why I have to tell it, but I know what it means
Close your eyes, just picture the scene
As I paint it for you

It was World War II
When this man named Kenji woke up
Ken was not a soldier, he was just a man
With a family who owned a store in L.A

That day, he crawled out of bed like he always did
Bacon and eggs with wife and kids
He lived on the second floor of a little store he ran
He moved to L.A. from Japan

They called him immigrant, in Japanese
He'd say he was called "issei"
That meant first generation
In the United States when

Everybody was afraid of the Germans, afraid of the Japs
But most of all, afraid of a homeland attack
And that morning, when Ken went out on the doormat
His world went black, 'cause

Right there, front page news
Three weeks before 1942
Pearl Harbor's been bombed and "The Japs are Coming"
Pictures of soldiers dying and running

Ken knew what it would lead to
And just like he guessed, the president said
"The evil Japanese in our home country
Would be locked away"

They gave Ken a couple of days
To get his whole life packed in two bags
Just two bags, he couldn't even pack his clothes
And some folks didn't even have a suitcase

To pack anything in
So two trash bags, is all they gave them
And when the kids asked mom, "Where are we going?"
Nobody even knew what to say to them

Ken didn't wanna lie
He said, "The U.S. is looking for spies
So, we have to live in a place called Manzanar
Where a lot of Japanese people are"

Stop it, don't look at the gunmen
You don't wanna get the soldiers wondering
If you're gonna run or not
'Cause if you run, then you might get shot

Other than that, try not to think about it
Try not to worry 'bout it being so crowded
'Cause someday, we'll get out
Someday, someday

"Yeah, soon as war broke out, the FBI came and
They just come through the house and, you have to come
All the Japanese have to go
They took Mr. Ni, the people couldn't understand
Why they had to take him because he's an innocent laborer"

So now, they're in a town with soldiers surrounding them
Every day, every night, looked down at them
From watchtowers up on the wall
Ken couldn't really hate them, at all

They were just doing their job
And he wasn't gonna make any problems
He had a little garden
Vegetables and fruits that he gave to the troops

In a basket his wife made
But in the back of his mind, he wanted his family's life saved
Prisoners of war in their own damn country, what for?

And time passed in the prison town
He wondered if he'd live it down
If and when they were free
The only way out was joining the Army, and supposedly

Some men went out for the army, signed on
And ended up flying to Japan with a bomb
That fifteen kiloton blast
Put an end to the war pretty fast

Two cities were blown to bits
The end of the war came quick
And Ken got out, big hopes of a normal life
With his kids and his wife, but

Then they got back to the home
And what they saw made him feel so alone
These people had trashed every room
Smashed in the windows and bashed in the doors

Written on the walls and the floor
"Japs not welcome, anymore!"
And Kenji dropped both of his bags at his sides
And just stood outside

He looked at his wife without words to say
She looked back at him wiping tears away
And said someday, we'll be okay, someday

Now, the names have been changed, but the story is true
My family was locked up, back in '42
My family was there, where it was dark and damp
And they called it an internment camp

When we first got back from camp, uh
It was pretty, pretty bad
I-I remember, my husband said
Oh we're gonna stay 'til last
Then my husband died, before they closed the camp

Lyrics submitted by L-Kyne

Kenji Lyrics as written by MIKE SHINODA

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Kenji song meanings
Add Your Thoughts


sort form View by:
  • +4
    General Comment

    Even more than I love this song, I love the fact that this song was even MADE. People rap about politics, but seldom about historical stories. You can tell it's very personal (I mean, he's got quotes from family members!) and it tells an important story. (One which I've always been very interested in). It can definitely apply to modern politics just because of its truth; it doesn't have to come out and say it or force anything.

    The only thing I'm a little iffy about is the bit: "and supposedly/Some men went out for the army /signed on/And ended up flying to Japan with a bomb" He does say "supposedly," but the pilots of neither the Enola Gay nor the plane that flew over Nagasaki were Japanese. (I think the US purposely kept the Japanese-American regiment-- because all of them were divided up by race back then, sigh-- in the European theater).

    Regardless, though, this is an amazing song.

    MurasakiNekoon May 23, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    Prety much as is... a family history story, probably motive for it wrting bout how the US is makin the same move again, with the war with muslims or as they like to call it terrorists. Lock away n presecute everyone first, then find out if their guilty...guantanamo bay anyone? Not the most deocratic way but ay, "Ken couldn't really hate them at all" for it... its harsh but the most effective thing we got.

    Peace bitchhhes

    Any thoughts?

    Blank Canvason December 08, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Best song on the album. Mike really shows a message here. I mean, your always hearing about the shit the Japanese and Germans did, but nobody tells about what the US did to innocent people as well. I hope people really listen to this song and learn the song.

    Now the names have been changed but the story's true My family was locked up back in '42 My family was there Where it was dark and damp And they called it an internment camp

    My favorite part.

    TheVillageCrazyon July 12, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    I like how Mike Shinoda got people to talk about the things that they witnessed and it's like you have all these recordins of people in Concentration Camps and being in Ellis Island, but I've never heard someone's point of view for World War Two and I think it's great how he incorperated it into his song.

    Angelz129on July 20, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    I love this song! It makes me think of how the USA does actually do that and accuse before find out. And I also just love it because of what it says, it tells a story. I am a big fan of Linkin Park and Fort Minor, so yeah, I try and read and watch everything that deals with them. Especially Mike Shinoda. ^_^

    madd_elibberon December 12, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Great beat on this song. I like the 6/4 time signature. Mike's intention on this one was to tell the story of not only his parents, but of many Japanese Americans who were shipped away into internment camps during the 40s. Like the stories of conscientious objectors, they have gone relatively unnoticed during historical overviews that generally focus on battles and combat of WWII.

    L-Kyneon December 20, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Oops, I mean there's 3 bars of 4/4, then one of 6/4.

    L-Kyneon December 23, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    How could this have happened to Mike's parents? This song was actually in WWII, like in the 40's, and Mike isn't that old now, is he? Anyway, this song is an eye-opener. While many history books portray the Japanese as for lack of a better word, "evil", they never actually bother to tell of what the Americans did to the Japanese. Why don't many people post on Fort Minor's songs? Not many have heard of him yet? I suppose the LP hype hasn't caught on yet... But we'll wait and see.

    BassGSon December 29, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Mike doesn't say it was specifically his father in the song, but says "my family was locked up back in '42". He may have created Kenji as a sort of everyman figure, rather than have everything historically correct.

    L-Kyneon January 03, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    This is the most ballsy song on the album. Rumor has it that Mike got into an argument with Jay over having the track on the final album. Good thing Mike won the argument. It's a great song, although it does feel a little out of place.

    cmill216on January 05, 2006   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

More Featured Meanings

Album art
Ave Grave
Thee More Shallows
So this has been.my favorite song of OTEP's since it came out in 2004, and I always thought it was a song about a child's narrative of suffering in an abusive Christian home. But now that I am revisiting the lyrics, I am seeing something totally new. This song could be gospel of John but from the perspective of Jesus. Jesus was NOT having a good time up to and during the crucifixion. Everyone in the known world at the time looked to him with fear, admiration or disgust and he was constantly being asked questions. He spoke in "verses, prophesies and curses". He had made an enemy of the state, and believed the world was increasingly wicked and fallen from grace, or that he was in the "mouth of madness". The spine of atlas is the structure that allows the titan to hold the world up. Jesus challenged the state and in doing so became a celebrated resistance figure. It also made him public enemy #1. All of this happened simply because he was doing his thing, not because of any agenda he had or strategy. And then he gets scourged (storm of thorns) There are some plot holes here but I think it's an interesting interpretation.
Album art
The Spy
Doors, The
Like a lot of the other comments are saying, I think this mainly about voyeurism. If the song was about his girlfriend, then why would he use the word spy. If you are a spy it means you shouldn't be caught, that is kind of the whole point, and if you are a voyeur, the whole point of the pleasure you get from it, is the fact that the other people don't know you are watching them. See a bit of a connection there?
Album art
Battle Royale
Word Alive, The
This song is def a twin to "Unfair" (a song she has been quoted as saying is about falling in love with someone who is already in a relationship) so it is presumably about the same person. Given the references to buying an apartment and not being able to see her love interest "after tonight," it's most likely that she's moving away and she'll "wait a day to break the bad news" (i.e. notifying him that she's leaving once she's already gone). And, of course, the fact that she sees in him a fellow "idealist" and "dreamer" (terms commonly given to people with the INFP personality on the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)) portends that she'll always be left wondering if they would've been perfect together.
Album art
Cajun Girl
Little Feat
Overall about difficult moments of disappointment and vulnerability. Having hope and longing, while remaining optimistic for the future. Encourages the belief that with each new morning there is a chance for things to improve. The chorus offers a glimmer of optimism and a chance at a resolution and redemption in the future. Captures the rollercoaster of emotions of feeling lost while loving someone who is not there for you, feeling let down and abandoned while waiting for a lover. Lost with no direction, "Now I'm up in the air with the rain in my hair, Nowhere to go, I can go anywhere" The bridge shows signs of longing and a plea for companionship. The Lyrics express a desire for authentic connection and the importance of Loving someone just as they are. "Just in passing, I'm not asking. That you be anyone but you”
Album art
Bee Gees
@[Diderik:33655] "Your a holiday!" Was a popular term used in the 50s/60s to compliment someone on their all around. For example, not only are they beautiful, but they are fun and kind too ... just an all around "holiday". I think your first comment is closer to being accurate. The singer/song writers state "Millions of eyes can see, yet why am i so blind!? When the someone else is me, its unkind its unkind". I believe hes referring to the girl toying with him and using him. He wants something deeper with her, thats why he allows himself to be as a puppet (even though for her fun and games) as long as it makes her happy. But he knows deep down that she doesnt really want to be serious with him and thats what makes him.