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

Alice Kanagaki

“The Japanese people are not the kind of people to sit back and feel bitter and feel sorry for themselves. They are creative, resourceful and they make the best of a bad situation. Shikata ga nai.

— Alice Kanagaki

Teenage fun, good friends, and happy memories of high school is how Alice remembers her time in Gila River. Skim through her high school yearbook and it reads like an average collection of young friends in any other school bonded by dances, sports, and an impending separation of graduation. Several of her handwritten messages begin with “Dear Rugged.” I asked Alice how ...

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Tessaku

Maru Hiratzka - Part 2

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How did they (Hiratzka family) come back to California? 

Well, I was in Texas and Jordan went to Ogden. I went to Crystal City and joined my family. We were separated for two and a half years and in the meantime Jordan was in Japan with the MIS. Went to the Philippines and they closed up those bars. They stayed there very shortly in Manila then they were sent to Japan. The war ended when he was on the ship going to the Philippines in 1945.

That’s when my dad got orders saying that people in ...

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Tessaku

Maru Hiratzka - Part 1

I know even in camp when it was declared Japan lost the war, some of these men were very adamant about Japan, they just couldn’t believe it. They went back to Japan thinking that they did not lose the war. But the Japanese, they’re just so strong.

— Maru Hiratzka

The story of Maru Hiratzka’s life during the war is really a love story. After family decisions took her and her high school sweetheart, Jordan Hiratzka, in opposite directions (she to Texas and Jordan to Utah), they never stopped writing to each other. And when Maru nearly left ...

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Tessaku

Kay Ikuma

One of the hardest things was getting immersed back into society, like taking the bus to school some place where there was a mixture of people. We had to put up with a lot of taunting, a lot of ridicule. That was hard, I remember that, being teased a lot.

—Kay Ikuma

In May of 1942, photographer Dorothea Lange shot the below picture of the Mochida family, prepared with their family’s identification tags and marked bags waiting to board a bus that would take them to the Tanforan assembly center.

Though this photo was part of the censored collection ...

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Tessaku

Tadashi Tsufura - Part 2

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Why do you think the parents and most Niseis never spoke about camp?

When the war was going on we were the enemy. After the war, we were still the enemy, so dead silence continued until 1976 when Michi Weglyn published her book “Years of Infamy.” Until then, no one wanted to bring the camp subject up. Also, when we left camp for Seabrook Farms in September of 1944, the war was still going on and we went to a town 5 miles away to shop for clothes and other necessities. There were signs in some store ...

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