From Densho's Archives

Densho has collected hundreds of hours of video testimony and tens of thousands of historical images. This series presents selections from their archives which highlight primary sources from the Densho Digital Archive to illustrate themes in Japanese American history.

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International Lives: The Horiuchi Interviews

“The Nikkei I knew that were involved in the occupation…they were able to work more closely with the Japanese because the Japanese looked upon them as someone that could understand their culture, their history, and their motivation.”—Lucius Horiuchi

Last year Densho interviewed Maynard and Lucius Horiuchi in Sonoma, California. With a generous grant from the Tateuchi Foundation, their interviews became the first in the Densho collection to be translated into Japanese. Their bilingual presence in the Digital Archive is utterly appropriate since the couple met in Japan, where Maynard worked for the U.S. embassy and Lucius served ...

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Profile in Courage: George Sakato and a Belated Medal of Honor

“I’m no hero, but I wear it for the guys that didn’t come back.” — George “Joe” Sakato

George T. Sakato is the great-great-great-grandson of a samurai. Perhaps that explains his father’s choice of a birth name. Sakato says, “Dad wanted to call me Jyotaro Sakato, after a sword-bearer for Musashi samurai.” But when the doctor submitted the vital statistics for the baby, “Jyotaro” became “George.” An unassuming man, Densho’s interviewee says simply, “All my life I’ve been called Joe.” On October 29, 1944, in the Vosges Mountains of France, Private Joe Sakato’s warrior ancestry ...

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Freeing Testimonies: The Redress Hearings

"I am very happy that the government of America is looking into the past. I think it takes a great country to admit its mistakes and make proper restitution."
--Masao Takahashi

In retrospect, the success of the Japanese American redress movement seems like a historical inevitability. In reality, the struggle for justice stretched over three decades and was anything but assured. Just as the mass removal and incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans without charge or trial was itself not inevitable,1 the government's acknowledgment of the mass injustice and awarding of monetary compensation were far from automatic. President ...

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World War II Volunteers

The nisei veterans have been called everything from heroes to cultural icons to saviors of the Japanese American community. Stories of the rescue of the "Lost Battalion" and the breaking of the Gothic Line are so harrowing and so poignant that it is easy to see why they hold an iconic status in our community. Yet, if we go back to 1943 – in the weeks following an announcement by the U.S. Government that opened the military to Japanese Americans – we see a group of individuals forced to make very human decisions under the most difficult of circumstances. Why these ...

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