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.

war en

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 ...

続きを読む

war en

Lillian Ogata-Bonner

Lillian and I met serendipitously coming home from the 2018 Manzanar pilgrimage where, on a long, three and a half hour bus ride from the Owens Valley to Los Angeles, the organizing committee welcomed camp survivors to share their story with the group. Lillian was the first one to volunteer her story, and reveal her special connection to Manzanar: She was a baby in the camp orphanage, formally known as the Children’s Village, which was the only one that operated for all ten camps. (Children of Japanese ancestry who had been given up for adoption or orphaned at the ...

続きを読む

war en

Jack and Grace Fujimoto - Part 2

Read Part 1 >>

It is because now that so much time has passed I think even. The people I speak with are getting more honest about how or they’re taking guesses with how their parents might have felt. I think as people get older they realize you know, ‘I want to say this truth about my past.’

Jack: Yeah. [To Grace] What do you think?

Grace: Being the baby of the family I had way too much fun.

Jack: You have opinions.

Grace: Well my father was probably the hardest person to understand. He’s very strong minded and ...

続きを読む

war en

Jack and Grace Fujimoto - Part 1

“My mom just about died in camp that first year because it was so damn hot. And I remember I used to have to go to the canteen every day. And they kept saying, ‘Hey get your ass out of here. We’re ain’t going to give you anymore ice.’ But everybody suffered if they weren’t used to the heat. So mom just about perished, died.”

— Jack Fujimoto

When you listen to Jack and Grace Fujimoto talk, you can’t help but know you’re in the presence of an incredibly rare couple. Having been married now for ...

続きを読む

war en

The Songbird of Manzanar: Mary Nomura - Part 2

Read Part 1 >>

Going back into Manzanar again, was there one person that gave you that nickname “the songbird”? 

I don’t know who gave me that nickname, but I kind of think it could have been the music director of the camp, Louie Frizzell. He took me under his wing and he used to go out into the camp on the days when he didn’t have to teach and bring brand new sheet music for me to learn; new songs of the day, the current songs. You know things like Judy Garland or Doris Day or whoever was ...

続きを読む