Mary’s life was filled with calamity and, in turn, hope and charity. At age twenty she traveled to Japan to become immersed in her native culture. Two years later, in an attempt to voyage back home, her ship was turned around to avoid danger and Mary then forced to remain in Japan for the duration of World War II.
Mary’s book, Dear Miye, Letters home From Japan 1939-1946, published in 1995, chronicles the pre-war years, war years, and post-war years of World War II. Her letters portray the racial prejudices, economic hardships, and social and gender barriers she experienced while immersed in Japanese society in wartime.
Tomita wrote on April 5, 1946:
“ Perhaps I could forget the sufferings and wrongs I have suffered…
I want to live fully, and to taste life to its fullest heights and depths.” (p 219)
Despite the disparities endured, upon returning to the States, Tomita became a prominent figure in her community. As an Oakland resident she was a librarian, an activist, and played important roles in the Asian American Ministries.