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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Teresa Maebori - Part 2

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And where did your family end up after the war? How did you come to Philadelphia? 

So this is interesting, too. My parents had just gotten married and they had all their wedding stuff and they were renting a house. And their landlord said, ‘Well, you can store it here and this place will be available when you come back.’

Oh wow, so they were lucky. 

They were lucky. And my dad had a job because his brother-in-law still had his pottery, so my dad worked in the pottery and became a supervisor there. So they came ...

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Teresa Maebori - Part 1

“I think that generation isn’t like our generation that grew up with the thought that we’re all equal. I think they understood it but they also knew that their parents were immigrants, and so they weren’t quite ‘up to par.’ Then of course what happened with Pearl Harbor just destroyed their lives. And they would forever be associated with the enemy.”

— Teresa Maebori

Educator, author, and Philadelphia JACL board member, Teresa Maebori, started to retrace her family’s WWII experience when she asked her 98-year-old mother to join her on a pilgrimage back to a town near ...

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Paul and Alice Takemoto - Part 2

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Do you speak Japanese?

Alice Takemoto (AT): Just like a second grader. So when I went there, we were there for three months and we went to about seven different universities and since Ken couldn’t speak Japanese, so I spoke in my kitchen Japanese. You know, the immigration stopped at a certain point so the people didn’t come from Japan, so my mother and father’s speech is what they called the Meiji Era. So I learned the Japanese they spoke way back then and I’m using this language with the professors and they ...

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Paul and Alice Takemoto - Part 1

“I grew up thinking women were stronger than men in terms of the absence of anger and self-pity. Absence of bitterness.”

– Paul Takemoto

If you ever have the pleasure of meeting Alice and Paul Takemoto, you will be in the presence of an endearing mother and son relationship. Sitting with them felt like a reunion with old friends, full of unexplainable but palpable comfort. Alice has a voice so sweet, she could deliver bad news and you’d receive it warmly. And when Paul cracks a joke (which is frequently), Alice’s laugh is infectious.

As star subjects in the ...

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James Tanaka - Part 2

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Did you get the sense that for whatever reason, Minidoka’s security felt more relaxed than the other camps?

In my diggings I found the April 7th meeting of DeWitt, Eisenhower, and the ten Western governors in Salt Lake City. And on page four it says ‘distinction between internment and evacuation.’ It spelled out clearly the difference between the two. And then, poor Mr. Eisenhower had a problem with sleeping because knowing American citizens were locked up behind barbed wire and armed guards, he couldn’t sleep at night. So in June, he turned the duties over ...

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