Emiko Tsuchida

Emiko Tsuchida is freelance writer and digital marketer living in San Francisco. She has written on the representations of mixed race Asian American women and conducted interviews with some of the top Asian American women chefs. Her work has appeared in the Village Voice, the Center for Asian American Media, and the forthcoming Beiging of America series. She is the creator of Tessaku, a project that collects stories from Japanese Americans who experienced the concentration camps.

Updated December 2016

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Tessaku

Lawson Sakai - Part 2

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Can you describe what happened when your parents found the Colorado church and were able to avoid camp?

When the evacuation order came out, Governor Ralph Carr in Colorado made a statement saying, “If Governor Warren doesn’t want you in California, you are welcome to come to my state of Colorado.” And many Japanese did. But only those who could afford to go or who weren’t afraid. Here, most of them had never left their area of California. And to go to Colorado, you know, it was very difficult. Well in my parents case, being ...

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Tessaku

Lawson Sakai — Part 1

“We all knew, we are going to go battle. And we expect to win. But we never knew what immediate death was like until we hit the frontline on the first day.”

— Lawson Sakai

At a mere 21 years old in 1944, Lawson Sakai had seen and learned more about the stark realities of humanity, war, and loss than so many other people his age. After trying to enlist in the U.S. Navy in the wake of Pearl Harbor, he was denied the opportunity to serve his country due to the irrational, anti-Japanese fervor sweeping the West Coast. The ...

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Tessaku

Kazuki Hirose - Part 2

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So you’re in camp and there for a couple of years, and then the loyalty questionnaire is put forth to everybody. What do you remember about getting that questionnaire and seeing those two questions, 27 and 28? Can you talk about what you did?

They didn’t tell us about doing away with our citizenship or nothing. But they didn’t warn us. I don’t think there was any warning or nothing. But they had a big cafeteria or gym that we met in, the whole camp. That was all full. The people of draft ...

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Tessaku

Kazuki Hirose - Part 1

“There were six to car, that’s including the driver. But you know, the driver himself could’ve been overpowered. But they trusted us that much that they stopped to feed us lunch. We could have run away but they trusted us that much. ”

— Kazuki Hirose

A first time conversation with Kazuki Hirose has all the familiarity and warmth of talking to an old friend. His fond reflections of growing up in Silicon Valley’s beautiful farm country and the friends he would meet in camp—many of whom are now gone—permeate the stories he tells, revealing the blessing ...

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Tessaku

Aiko Ebihara

“During all of those long years of World War II, I took that Evacuation Day very personally. For me, as an eighteen year old, it was an unreasonable action by the U.S. Government that took ‘my Aiko.’”

— Velora Williams Morris

This story of Aiko Ebihara really begins in the friendship forged between two families living in Salem, Oregon, prior to the start of WWII. Aiko’s parents, Maki and Frank, were restaurant owners and full-time cooks at Tokio Sukiyaki, living above the restaurant in a cramped bedroom with three young children. With Aiko on the way, there was simply ...

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