Emiko Tsuchida

Emiko Tsuchida is freelance writer and digital marketer living in San Francisco. She has written on the representations of mixed race Asian American women and conducted interviews with some of the top Asian American women chefs. Her work has appeared in the Village Voice, the Center for Asian American Media, and the forthcoming Beiging of America series. She is the creator of Tessaku, a project that collects stories from Japanese Americans who experienced the concentration camps.

Updated December 2016

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Tessaku

Santo Market Owners: Earl Santo - Part 1

Any visit to the quaint neighborhood of San Jose’s Japantown often necessitates that you visit at least one of three institutions: the manju shop Shuei-Do, family favorite restaurant Gombei, and Santo Market. Serving the community since 1946, Santo Market is a haven of fresh poke, Asian produce and meats, and their legendary (and quickly sold out) strawberry mochi, where they nestle one huge, ripe strawberry in the middle of sweet red bean.

Behind the store’s longstanding legacy are Earl and Helen Santo, who have kept it a family business since Earl’s uncle began it immediately following the ...

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Lawson Sakai - Part 4

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You were a part of these major battles that were significant. And I think a lot of people today see those battles as suicide missions that the 442 was sent into. Do you ever look back and just wonder how you survived this?

You wonder how you survived. One of my good friends from Hawai’i, from Hilo, his name was Sunei Sakamoto. He was the platoon sergeant for the 3rd platoon of E Company. He was vicious. A real nice guy. But, in battle he was loud, standing up there, hollering everybody to charge and he ...

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Tessaku

Lawson Sakai - Part 3

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What are some vivid memories you have of basic training, being at Camp Shelby, and getting to know your fellow soldiers?

Camp Shelby is very interesting. I was assigned to E Company, infantry. Pretty much a foreign type of thing because most of us had been pretty sheltered at home. The boys in Hawaii lived very close together, and participated in sports and school and so forth. In the mainland we weren’t that close but we were living kind of a normal life like any other teenage kids. When you get into the army, all of ...

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Tessaku

Lawson Sakai - Part 2

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Can you describe what happened when your parents found the Colorado church and were able to avoid camp?

When the evacuation order came out, Governor Ralph Carr in Colorado made a statement saying, “If Governor Warren doesn’t want you in California, you are welcome to come to my state of Colorado.” And many Japanese did. But only those who could afford to go or who weren’t afraid. Here, most of them had never left their area of California. And to go to Colorado, you know, it was very difficult. Well in my parents case, being ...

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Tessaku

Lawson Sakai — Part 1

“We all knew, we are going to go battle. And we expect to win. But we never knew what immediate death was like until we hit the frontline on the first day.”

— Lawson Sakai

At a mere 21 years old in 1944, Lawson Sakai had seen and learned more about the stark realities of humanity, war, and loss than so many other people his age. After trying to enlist in the U.S. Navy in the wake of Pearl Harbor, he was denied the opportunity to serve his country due to the irrational, anti-Japanese fervor sweeping the West Coast. The ...

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