Tessaku

Tessaku was the name of a short-lived magazine published at the Tule Lake concentration camp during World War II. It also means “barbed wire.” This series brings to light stories of the Japanese American internment, illuminating those that haven’t been told with intimate and honest conversation. Tessaku brings the consequences of racial hysteria to the foreground, as we enter into a cultural and political era where lessons of the past must be remembered.

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Jack and Grace Fujimoto - Part 2

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It is because now that so much time has passed I think even. The people I speak with are getting more honest about how or they’re taking guesses with how their parents might have felt. I think as people get older they realize you know, ‘I want to say this truth about my past.’

Jack: Yeah. [To Grace] What do you think?

Grace: Being the baby of the family I had way too much fun.

Jack: You have opinions.

Grace: Well my father was probably the hardest person to understand. He’s very strong minded and ...

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Jack and Grace Fujimoto - Part 1

“My mom just about died in camp that first year because it was so damn hot. And I remember I used to have to go to the canteen every day. And they kept saying, ‘Hey get your ass out of here. We’re ain’t going to give you anymore ice.’ But everybody suffered if they weren’t used to the heat. So mom just about perished, died.”

— Jack Fujimoto

When you listen to Jack and Grace Fujimoto talk, you can’t help but know you’re in the presence of an incredibly rare couple. Having been married now for ...

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The Songbird of Manzanar: Mary Nomura - Part 2

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Going back into Manzanar again, was there one person that gave you that nickname “the songbird”? 

I don’t know who gave me that nickname, but I kind of think it could have been the music director of the camp, Louie Frizzell. He took me under his wing and he used to go out into the camp on the days when he didn’t have to teach and bring brand new sheet music for me to learn; new songs of the day, the current songs. You know things like Judy Garland or Doris Day or whoever was ...

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The Songbird of Manzanar: Mary Nomura - Part 1

“I always thought when I was a little girl, ‘I’m going to be a singer on the radio.’ I thought I would not get in the movies because who’s going to see a Japanese girl perform in the movies? So if they hear me singing on a record, they won’t know it’s my Japanese face singing.”

— Mary Nomura

Mary Kageyama Nomura was a teenager when the war broke out between the U.S. and Japan. She and her siblings were living completely on their own in Venice, all orphaned when their parents died within four years ...

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Ann Sato - Part 2

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And then you as an American, did you experience any backlash?

I remember there was an American soldier that was downed, an airplane was downed and naturally I ran with the whole mob of children that went to see them. And he was in a prison. I remember, and these bars were wooden, it was a local jail. And I felt so sorry for him. I remember running home ahead of the group with tears in my eyes because I felt so sorry for him, you know?

And you felt sorry because –

Every time I see an ...

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