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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Jiro Oyama - Part 3

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How long were you in Santa Anita?

I guess it was about eight months. And the thing is that to bring some solace to the crowd of people, they had a group of Hawaiian singers and dancers, and there would be a stage where they would have some sort of intimate entertainment. They tried to start some classes to try to maintain the education. But I don’t think that was successful at all. And then Santa Anita, they did have a program underway, they started to produce camouflage netting. So they had on the stands, people ...

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Jiro Oyama - Part 2

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This is actually good because it brings us to Pearl Harbor. So your father’s gone and it sounds like your sister's becoming the head of the household. So what do you remember about the day Pearl Harbor happened?

It happened two years after my older sister got married. So we had my younger sister, my brother, and me. My second sister, Minnie, was managing the grocery store. And my brother is starting to go at that time to UCLA. And I was about 16 years old.

So on Pearl Harbor, we used to close the ...

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Jiro Oyama - Part 1

“And as I was standing there, I was looking around to see, realizing that everyone was concerned about the attack and that they would be looking at me. I didn’t consider other Japanese, too. It was me that was to blame.”

— Jiro Oyama

Jiro Oyama’s long, fruitful life represents the essence of the achievement of the American dream. As the youngest son born to a hardworking family in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, his early years were punctuated by tragic and difficult life events. When he was nine, his father died from a prolonged illness after ...

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Richard Yamashiro - Part 4

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How did you meet your wife?

Well, I was in the army, so I went to a USO dance. That’s where I met her.

So she’s Japanese American?

Yeah. And that’s another story. I wanted to get married, but I was only 20 years old. And so I asked my parents if they would give me permission to get married. She said, no, I was too young. And so, me and my girlfriend hop on a plane, went to Reno and got married in Reno. And I came back and then my mother-in-law says ...

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Richard Yamashiro - Part 3

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So actually, just to backtrack a little bit. When you actually left Manzanar to Tule Lake, how did you get there? Did they put you on a train?

Yeah we got on a train. I guess a lot of people were happy, I wasn’t too happy. Tule Lake is horrible. You ever see Tule Lake? Compared to Manzanar? It was horrible because Tule Lake was a dried out lake bed. No soil in there at all it’s like little gravels. Where on the other hand, Manzanar was in the desert but it was in a ...

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