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

Lily Yuri Tsurumaki - Part 4

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And did your mother work in camp?

You know, she was doing embroidery here before they went to camp. Oh, this is when we’re leaving Heart Mountain. There was a Mr. Kinushita. Being it’s a desert area there’s a lot of Jasper rocks and dinosaur bones sometimes. And Mr. Kinushita started a rock group so they can go outside the campground and look around the desert area for rocks.

Adina: Oh, is that how they got started in all that?

Yeah. So Mr. Kinushita made arrangements and Grandpa was right away into this thing ...

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Tessaku

Lily Yuri Tsurumaki - Part 3

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And how was the relationship between your parents? Did they have a good marriage?

I think so but my father was much older than she, but they were introduced by a family friend in Japan but because he never came after her she said it was embarrassing. They were sort of like betrothed. That’s why she says she’s going to go to America herself. So she came on the boat by herself.

Yes. Were they still corresponding though?

I think so. I can’t figure it out how she would have known where to go ...

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Tessaku

Lily Yuri Tsurumaki - Part 2

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Oh wow what a beautiful picture. So this is like the office?

That was our Japan Airlines office and I was taking care of the PBX board at the time. And as a senior in high school, they called us a certain name for those who were in the top category and we had to do service, and I had to do the switchboards early in the morning before the regular operator came in so that’s why I learned how to use a switch board at John Marshall high school.

Are you fluent in Japanese? Do ...

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Tessaku

Lily Yuri Tsurumaki - Part 1

“One day, a classmate saw my name is Lily Oki and she was surprised she says, ‘You know I asked my mother, you disappeared you didn’t come back to class to school.’ And someone remembered me all those years? I thought my gosh, it was touching but she said I guess no one talked about it.”

— Lily Yuri Tsurumaki

I would not have met Lily had it not been for the wonders of social media. Her granddaughter, Adina Mori-Holt, who works for the Little Tokyo Service Center in Los Angeles on the forthcoming Terasaki Budokan, reached out to me ...

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Tessaku

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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