Susan Yamamura

Susan Yamamura was born in the United States and incarcerated before the age of two with the rest of her family in Camp Harmony (Puyallup, WA) and in Camp Minidoka (Hunt, ID) under Executive Order 9066. A free account of her camp memories can be downloaded: Camp 1942–1945

“In spite of Executive Order 9066, as could happen only in America, my paternal grandparents, parents, husband, and I fulfilled our American dreams.”

A retired former computer programmer, computer systems and network administrator, widow of a University of Arizona Regents Professor, Hank Yamamura, and mother of a son, she is now a writer, clay artist, and watercolorist.

Updated March 2017

identity en

Jichan in America

The grandfather of my heart will always be my father’s father, Grandfather Araki (born a Kaneda but taking the Araki name as a yoshi), whom I called Jichan. He gave me the precious gift of unconditional love. I thought Jichan was his given name. In reality, it was a child’s version of ojisan, which means “old man” or “grandfather” in Japanese. Jichan’s true given name was Nisaku.

Grandfather asked me once why I called him Jichan. I told him all my friends’ names ended in chan and since he was my friend, I had added chan to ...

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food en

Nikkei Chronicles #6: Itadakimasu 2!: Another Taste of Nikkei Culture

Matsutake Sukiyaki

In Seattle, my family’s mushroom hunting season would begin with discussions around the big table in the large, windowed breakfast nook at home, where the family took all everyday meals. Around the dinner table, rumors about friends and acquaintances being recognized at various well-known matsutake sites in the Cascades, the Olympic Peninsula, and Shelton were thoroughly analyzed. One year, matsutake were found under huckleberry bushes, an inconceivable place! Every Japanese family had their own, secret matsutake hunting places, locations which were family treasures. We children were sworn to secrecy and sternly admonished not to utter the names of the ...

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culture en

Cherry Blossom Petals

An elegant few, pale pink blossoms on the slender limbs of a delicate February Fuji Cherry tree, displayed themselves in the midst of a light winter snow. To Naomi, looking down on the scene from her second floor bedroom window, the blossoms looked magical—large, pink snowflakes amid the falling, smaller, white ones. The tree looked very much like the beautiful, delicate hazel tree in Elenore Abbot’s illustration for “Cinderella” in Grimm’s Fairy Tales. In this version of “Cinderella,” rather than a fairy godmother, the magical tree, upon a certain incantation, showers Cinderella with a gorgeous ball gown ...

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war en

Minoru Tamesa: The Quiet Man Who Came to Dinner - Part 3

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In writing this remembrance of Minoru Tamesa, one more memory of Min’s father, Uhachi Tamesa, comes to mind. My Jichan (grandfather) Nisaku Araki was a friend of Uhachi’s. On one of Uhachi’s visits to our house, I remember hearing raised voices from the kitchen, almost as if Uhachi and Jichan were having an argument. Such raised voices were unexpected and different from the usual low murmurings of polite conversation, so I peeked into the kitchen alcove, where they were seated around the table. Their voices were raised but both had smiles on their rather ...

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war en

Minoru Tamesa: The Quiet Man Who Came to Dinner - Part 2

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Last year, I googled “Minoru Tamesa.” I can’t remember why. I was startled to find a picture of him as a young man, looking a bit like a “tough guy,” nothing like the quiet, prematurely aged, sensitive, almost fragile-looking man who came to dinner. Believing there might be few still alive who knew the middle-aged Min, I decided to share my memories of the man on Discover Nikkei’s Facebook page, hoping that others with more memories of him would come forward. Eventually, Ken Izutsu responded to my post with the following comment, edited slightly for ...

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