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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Yosh Uchida - Part 2

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So can you describe leaving for Arkansas? That’s where you did your basic training?

Right, right. Oh yeah. There were lots of Japanese, Japanese Americans that went to Camp Robinson in Little Rock, Arkansas. And we went by train across the country. And it took us about two or three days to get there. And it was very nerve-wracking. We pulled shades down and went across the country.

Really, they told you to do that?

Uh huh.

Oh my goodness. It was like the same thing as all the other Japanese who were sent–

Well the ...

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Yosh Uchida - Part 1

“I like to have my grandchildren know about it, where they’re from and what happened to their grandparents. And how hard they had to work so that they have equal rights with everybody else.”

On April 1, 2020, Yosh Uchida became a centenarian, carrying with him a legacy and reputation that reflects his long life. Born to a farming family in what is now Disneyland, Yosh remembers the difficult years of growing up during the Depression, and the concern of the community’s Issei parents that Japanese language and culture were being forgotten by their American-born children. “They thought ...

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Shin Mune — Part 2

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Did your parents ever have any conversations with you or your siblings about what was happening?

Well, see, my mother and father spoke Japanese at home. But when my mother spoke to us, maybe before the war or camp, she might have spoken to us in Japanese because Papa insisted on us speaking Japanese. But once we were in camp, it was the Japanese way. “Nihogno hanishitaku nakata.” (Didn’t want to speak Japanese). Pound your fist on the top of the table “No, no.” My father had a loud voice, so I remember coming out of ...

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Shin Mune — Part 1

“Finally, the day we received news of President Reagan signing the apology letter they had a function at the Issei Memorial building. And Papa was the only Issei there. I was so proud of him.”

— Shin Mune

Shin Mune is one of those rare living treasures in San Jose who come from the heritage of farming the very land upon which sprawling suburbias now sit. In fact, the 20-acre Mune farm that the family owned after the war was just a five minute walk away from the middle school that I attended, Morrill Middle on the border of Milpitas. Shin ...

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Setsuko Asano - Part 3

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So how did your father get this job right after camp?

He was a journalist like I said, and very good in writing Chinese characters. He was befriended by a Chinese man who was in the shrimp business. And he told him, “Come here to New Orleans.” So we went, he really befriended us. I say this really with a sense of — he was so nice to us that even when I left there because my father passed, he found out why I was going back to Los Angeles, he said, ‘I have property here. We could ...

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