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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Nancy Yamamoto - Part 2

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So those were hard times. Once I was home for a girls’ meeting and I was intending to take the train back to San Francisco on Monday morning. They wouldn’t allow me to get on the train, they wouldn’t sell me a ticket.

I think I can still picture him. I said, ‘Why not?’ He said, ‘Your country started a war against us.'” And I said that’s not my country. I said I’m an American born, Japanese American. He said, “Doesn’t make any difference, can’t sell you a ticket. If you ...

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Nancy Yamamoto - Part 1

Once I was home for a girls’ meeting and I was intending to take the train back to San Francisco on Monday morning. They wouldn’t allow me to get on the train, they wouldn’t sell me a ticket. I think I can still picture him. I said, “Why not?” He said, “Your country started a war against us.”

-- Nancy Yamamoto

A longtime member of the Oakland Buddhist Church’s Momijikai, a young Nancy Yamamoto had aspirations to become a fashion designer and learn from the best in Chicago or New York. Her love of style is obvious by ...

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Fusae Yoshida - Part 2

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[To Fusae] Do you remember a conversation that your parents had with you over moving to the camps?

They went with the flow, evidently. They packed up. They closed their laundry business. And we waited for evacuation because we knew it was coming.

Did you ever experience anything negative from school?

Our school wasn’t that bad, I didn’t feel it. I was in junior high school. In fact, the school gave a special farewell assembly. The Mayor of Tacoma was one of the very few people who opposed the evacuation. He later became a U ...

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Fusae Yoshida - Part 1

“When he came back to Tule Lake where we were, he got off the bus, and he was an old man. To this day I cry when I think about it. He had aged so much, it was so noticeable. But I was too young to question him about what happened in those camps.”

-- Fusae Yoshida

I connected with Fusae Yoshida through the Oakland Buddhist Church’s senior citizen group (Momiji kai). This church holds a lot of history for our family, having been the same church my grandmother attended for over 50 years and the one that hosted her ...

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Digger Sasaki - Part 2

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[To Digger] I think it’d be interesting to talk about your first impression of Tule Lake and arriving. 

Digger Sasaki (DS): Being in Pinedale for three months, it gave me a little awareness of barracks and stuff. But Pinedale was so small in comparison. And the reason they sent us to Pinedale is Tule Lake wasn’t finished as far as building all the barracks. To tell you the truth, I couldn’t remember how we got to Tule Lake from Pinedale. I haven’t even thought about that, because that’s a long distance.

I ...

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