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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Santo Market Owners: Earl Santo - Part 2

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So coming back to San Jose, you resettled back here?

Yes.

Was the reason because your parents were already familiar with it or did they just feel like it would be better to come back? Or do you know why they chose —

I think they were familiar with it and we had farm equipment that was being held by a very good family that helped us. It’s not that they didn’t use it, so they in turn benefited some, using the equipment.

But they held onto it for you.

Yes.

They were really good people ...

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Santo Market Owners: Earl Santo - Part 1

Any visit to the quaint neighborhood of San Jose’s Japantown often necessitates that you visit at least one of three institutions: the manju shop Shuei-Do, family favorite restaurant Gombei, and Santo Market. Serving the community since 1946, Santo Market is a haven of fresh poke, Asian produce and meats, and their legendary (and quickly sold out) strawberry mochi, where they nestle one huge, ripe strawberry in the middle of sweet red bean.

Behind the store’s longstanding legacy are Earl and Helen Santo, who have kept it a family business since Earl’s uncle began it immediately following the ...

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Lawson Sakai - Part 3

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What are some vivid memories you have of basic training, being at Camp Shelby, and getting to know your fellow soldiers?

Camp Shelby is very interesting. I was assigned to E Company, infantry. Pretty much a foreign type of thing because most of us had been pretty sheltered at home. The boys in Hawaii lived very close together, and participated in sports and school and so forth. In the mainland we weren’t that close but we were living kind of a normal life like any other teenage kids. When you get into the army, all of ...

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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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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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