Branded as Dishonorably Discharged: Uncovering the Story Behind the Disciplinary Barracks Boys


Most people, even avid followers of Japanese American history, might ask, “Who are the disciplinary barracks boys?” In the seventy years since the end of WWII, little has been written about this group of 21 soldiers who in 1944 faced military criminal trials, dishonorable discharge, and imprisonment in the United ...

On a Quest to Find Barracks


I spent a month in Cody, Wyoming, on an unusual mission. I wanted to locate as many barracks as I could—buildings left behind when the Heart Mountain concentration camp closed and the last Japanese American family was ordered to leave in November 1945. I did so under the auspices ...

Thread of Life: Strength, Survival, and a Singer Sewing Machine


Alan Nishio: One for All


The smiling gentleman being roasted at the sold-out event to raise money for the youth-empowering program, Kizuna, was hardly the young radical who thirty-five years ago could have been mistaken for the sword-carrying D’Artagnan in the battle for redress. In the spirit of the roast, Chris Aihara, one of ...

Unraveling Family Mysteries: Paul Nakadate and the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee


It all began while doing research for a film on Stanley Hayami, the bright and promising young man killed in the final days of the war while serving in Italy as a member of the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team. He was just 19, and his short, tumultuous life epitomized ...

Emerging from the Shadow of a Hero: A Veteran’s Son Talks About His Own War Experience


As the sun peeked out on a slightly overcast summer’s day, a few WWII veterans gathered with a crowd of friends and families on the occasion of the 15th Anniversary of the Go For Broke Monument in the heart of Little Tokyo. Mostly in their 90s, the white-haired men ...

Carrying the Torch: Wayne Collins Jr. on His Father’s Defense of the Renunciants


The inscription on the front page of Michi Nishiura Weglyn’s landmark book, Years of Infamy: The Untold Story of America’s Concentration Camps, reads: “Dedicated to Wayne M. Collins Who Did More to Correct a Democracy’s Mistake Than Any Other One Person.” At a time when people barely ...

The Happy Power of Obon


Obon season is a time when communities gather together to celebrate life and death through food and dance. Like the beat of the taiko drum, Obons gather energy through movement, and they move with joyful rhythms all their own. Warm summer days and nights give way to one or two ...

What It Means to Go On a Camp Pilgrimage


pil•grim•age noun: pilgrimage; plural noun: pilgrimages

Stranger in a Strange Land: A Sansei’s First Trip to Japan


I’d never felt a passionate connection to the country of my ancestors. I blamed it on the war: postwar America saw Issei and Nisei trying to get over being labeled the “enemy,” and we Sansei children were faced with a curious dilemma in many ways initiated by our parents ...

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I discovered my Nikkei roots very late in life, and for that reason I have been referred to as a born-again Sansei by some of my sarcastic friends. I used to duck when I saw large groups of JA students while I was at UCLA. But long after I graduated college, I started a Los Angeles chapter of the Sansei Legacy Project, a group that was founded to foster our Sansei-ness. It worked! I now love spending my time writing and making films about what it means to be Japanese American.


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