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.

culture en

Isamu Noguchi - Part 2

Read Part 1 >>


Do you also feel that something about Isamu Noguchi’s mixed-race identity shapes his sociopolitical worldview? 

I think the time that he spent in Indiana was really formative. This heartland experience, and he’s in the presence of this industrialist who has various farming equipment manufactured, he runs a newspaper so he sees this guy essentially as the personification of the American businessman.

And also he’s learning about the founding fathers and he’s definitely aware of the farming cycle. And he’s getting a mix of agrarian culture but he goes to New York and ...

Read more

culture en

Isamu Noguchi - Part 1

“I begin to see the peculiar tragedy of the Nisei as that of a generation of transition accepted neither by the Japanese nor by America. A middle people with no middle ground. His future looms uncertain. Where can he go? How will he live? Where will he be accepted?”

— Isamu Noguchi from “I Become a Nisei” (1942)

Sculptor Isamu Noguchi was as fluid a creator as he was in his racial identity. Born to Leonie Gilmour, a white American mother and Yonejiro Noguchi, a Japanese poet, he was by all accounts, an artist’s artist. Mentored by great European sculptors ...

Read more

war en

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 ...

Read more

war en

Maru Hiratzka - Part 2

Read Part 1 >>

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 ...

Read more

war en

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 ...

Read more