A list of people included in this project. Click a name to learn more.
Henry Kiyomi Akiyama
Henry Kiyomi Akiyama. Akiyama was born in Ariake village, Minami Azumi district, Nagano prefecture on March 10, 1888. He spent the first two decades in Japan, attending school there, before coming to the U.S. in 1907. Akiyama helped his family farm after completing 8th grade and had been educated in silk worm culturing by the time he left for the U.S. His journey to the U.S. was a bit fraught, because the U.S. was strict about letting in those with the eye disease Trachoma. He went to Yokohama and received an eye examination to enter a ship to the U.S., but his eyes were dreadfully red, and he was denied entry—although Akiyama never said that he did have Trachoma. After being treated briefly, Akiyama traveled to Vancouver then to the U.S., because the doctor stated it would be easier to get into the U.S. that way. Eventually he made his way to Orange County in the Wintersburg area, living in a labor camp. As Akiyama placed more roots and became more successful in Orange County, he eventually created a goldfish business in Wintersburg, right next to the Furuta’s home. During the war, Akiyama was imprisoned in Poston, Arizona before briefly moving to Minnesota and returning to Orange County.
George Fujii was born in Seattle on April 16, 1915. His family hailed from Kagoshima prefecture. Fujii briefly moved to the Imperial Valley, Los Angeles, and then returned to Japan with his entire family. While in Japan, Fujii attended school, but his family returned to Orange County sometime in the 1920s. Fujii remarked that he was made fun of by his peers for his Americanness, which resulted in him being “more brainwashed-nationalistic than the Japanese themselves” in high school. By the time he reunited with his family in June of 1934, they were running a Chinese restaurant on 323 Easter Center St. (now Lincoln Ave) in Anaheim, called Nikko Chop Suey, and named after the famous Nikko shrine. Fujii attended local schools in Anaheim, the Anaheim Free Methodist Church, Fullerton Junior College, and USC. In 1942, Fujii was incarcerated at Poston, Arizona, where he worked as an interpreter and was a part of the so-called “Reception Committee” that helped people get their bearings upon arriving. Fujii was also a vocal advocate of Japanese civil rights and was put in Phoenix county jail for leading an anti-draft plot, because he wrote critical letters to President Roosevelt, California governor Earl Warren, General John Dewitt, and Los Angeles Mayor Fletcher Bowron. He was acquitted and returned to southern California at the end of the war, where he started his own Chinese restaurant in North Hollywood, worked as a real estate agent, and at the Japanese consulate General in Los Angeles.
Yukiko Furuta was born in Hiroshima in 1895 as the eldest daughter. Yukiko was born to a wealthy enough samurai family, that she had no need to learn household chores. She attended public school through eighth grade, until a neighbor set up a go-between meeting with her family and Mr. Furuta when she was about 17 and he was 31. Mr. Furuta had returned from the U.S. and was seeking a bride. After marrying, they returned to Orange County together, where Mr. Furuta had a house built on his land. However, Mrs. Furuta was extremely isolated, scarcely knew many Japanese people in the neighborhood, and did not know how to even cook rice when she came to the U.S. Life was a big change for Mrs. Furuta, and she was even criticized by other Japanese farmers’ wives for wearing make-up, sewing kimonos, or dressing well—things she was used to doing in Hiroshima. Mrs. Furuta was imprisoned at Poston, Arizona in 1942, shortly after her husband was picked up by the FBI and imprisoned in Tujunga then Lordsburg, New Mexico. They returned to Orange County in 1945.
Amy Uno Ishii
Amy Uno Ishii. Amy Uno Ishii was born in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1920. In this project, she is the only one who did not spend time in Orange County. Ishii moved to Los Angeles in 1926, because of the “extreme changes of climate.” In 1932, at the young age of 12, Ishii left home voluntarily to work as a domestic because of how tight their budget was. She worked in Leimert Park, making $8 per month. She commuted to a John Adams junior high from her new home, because “they didn’t have Japanese” in Audubon junior high school. By 1935, she again moved jobs, working in the Wilshire area for $12 per month. She began attending City College in 1940. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the FBI immediately raided her home the same day, tearing up their apartment. Her father was immediately detained and taken to Missoula, Montana. Her brother was dishonorably discharged from the National Guard for his race. She married during or right before the incarceration process and became separated from the rest of her family to live with her husband at Heart Mountain, Wyoming because families moved to the same camp together. Throughout the war, the U.S. government attempted to forcibly deport her father multiple times, but he vehemently refused because the only family he knew remained in the U.S., incarcerated.
Charles Ishii was born in Talbert, Orange County, California, in August 1916. Ishii briefly visited his family native prefecture, Fukuoka, from December 1925 to May 1926. Ishii attended local grammar schools and Japanese language schools, including the Wintersburg Church. He graduated from Huntington Beach High School, before attending Santa Ana College for accounting. He had wanted to go to Arizona State for engineering, but the depression had taken too deep a financial toll on his family. Ishii attended advanced accounting school in 1936, before deciding to quit because he believed people were not making enough money in that profession. He worked with his father on a farm from 1937 until being drafted in 1941. Between 1941 and 1945, Ishii participated in basic training, worked as a guard, an orderly, auditor, and eventually was made first sergeant in the 442nd combat team. He spent about 20 months overseas before being discharged in 1945. Ishii married his wife, Kuniko Kawamoto in Chicago, before returning to Orange County to farm. Ishii also served as a Fountain Valley councilman from 1958 to 1962.
Yoneko Dobashi Iwatsuru
Yoneko Dobashi Iwatsuru was born on December 7, 1912 in Yorba Linda, CA. Her parents arrived in Yorba Linda in 1910. Her father, Tomosaburo Dobashi arrived in the U.S. in 1907, and mother, Taniye Kitada in 1908 as a picture bride, initially living in Needles, CA. Both were from Wakayama prefecture. Iwatsuru lived on the corner of Casa Loma and Citrus (now Bastanchury Rd.), where a country club exists today. She attended Yorba Linda Elementary, the Friends Church, and Japanese Language School in Anaheim during her youth. Iwatsuru’s father worked to establish a citrus and avocado business, buying 20 acres of land in Yorba Linda, where he eventually added tomatoes, peas, and more. Iwatsuru would sometimes go with her father to the 7th street market and Terminal market where he sold vegetables and fruits. Her mother said they were the only Japanese family in Yorba Linda until 1945, but after that, a Japanese women’s club met frequently to raise money for helping the community. Both her parents were Buddhists and went to Los Angeles, but eventually the children in the family joined local churches because of the distance between Orange County and Los Angeles. Iwatsuru was imprisoned at the Rohwer camp in Arkansas. She returned home with her husband in 1945.
Henry Kanegae was born around 1918 in Fountain Valley, CA. Kanegae lived in western Orange County for the entirety of his life, before being incarcerated at Poston in Arizona. He left Poston on a relocation program, spending time in Albuquerque, NM, but returned to Poston before the war was over. He returned to Orange County in 1946 and at the time the interview took place in 1966, lived in Newport Beach, CA.
Shizu Kamei was born on June 9, 1899 in Nozaki village, Kaiso district, now Wakayama city, in Wakayama prefecture. Her birth parents separated at a young age or before her birth because Kamei’s mother simply never heard from her father after he moved to the U.S. Kamei’s father married a different woman using a picture bride type service after he had moved to the U.S., either before Kamei’s birth or while she was very young. Kamei attended grammar school in Nozaki, but did not enjoy school. She said that she remembered when the Japanese won the Russo-Japanese War, and wore a kimono with a Japanese flag pattern in her village to celebrate the victory. Eventually Kamei joined her father, meeting him for the first time in San Francisco in 1916. Her father had also spent some time in Kauai. They moved to Gardena sometime after, where Kamei attended elementary school—but because she was nearly 18, she quit. Kamei typically helped on her father’s farm in Gardena, where they grew strawberries and other crops. Her father cultivated around 15 acres, along with many other Japanese that surreptitiously leased the land through second-generation Japanese. Kamei married in 1919, with a Buddhist priest from Little Tokyo’s Nishi Hongan-ji presiding. Between 1921 and 1931, Kamei had seven children, and by 1929 she was living in Buena Park in Orange County. Over the next decade, Kamei jumped around Orange County, living on the Irvine Ranch in what is now Tustin, in the Santa Ana Canyon, and Westminster or Garden Grove. All the time they farmed things like tomatoes, squash, celery, but apparently made little money. In 1942, Kamei was imprisoned at Poston, and sold their land lease to Chinese people. In 1945, Kamei returned to Garden Grove and commuted to a farming plot in Costa Mesa. Kamei visited Japan twice in the 1950s, once making an 88 site Buddhist pilgrimage in Shikoku.
Hyotaro Kaneko was from Fukushima prefecture. Like many others, Kaneko’s father came to the U.S. first, in 1906. In 1915, Kaneko departed from Yokohama and arrived in Seattle, a trip that took nearly a month. He then joined his father in Utah, doing agricultural and railroad work for Union Pacific in Wyoming. Aside from his father and him, Kaneko’s entire family remained in Fukushima and farmed. At some point, Kaneko moved to Seal Beach. In December 1941, after Pearl Harbor was attacked, Kaneko was arrested by the FBI, jailed in Santa Ana, before being imprisoned in Tujunga and Lordsburg, New Mexico. Kaneko was critical of the U.S. response and wanted to go back to Japan during the war, because they wanted to make his son a soldier despite him being imprisoned. Eventually Kaneko was moved to Crystal City, TX, a family camp for men who were considered potential threats. After the war, Kaneko and his wife, Mine Yabuki Kaneko, moved back to Fukushima for nine years before returning to California in 1955.
Mine Yabuki Kaneko
Mine Yabuki Kaneko was born in Torikawa village, Shinobu district, Fukushima prefecture in 1904. She was the second oldest daughter of five and worked as a silk weaver in a family that raised silk worms. Mine eventually fell in love with a man who moved to Kyoto for work, but her family did not approve of him. Mine was attracted to the idea of moving to the U.S., so her family arranged for her to marry Hyotaro Kaneko who happened to be in Japan searching for a bride. They married in 1922 and went to Wyoming immediately after. They moved to Gardena and eventually Seal Beach, where they took over the land and house of a Moritaro Tanamachi who moved back to Japan. They simply sent money to the Tanamachi’s in exchange for their agreement. Mine worked hard as a farmhand, leaving her infant children in a crib while she took the older children to work in the field. The Kaneko’s had planned to return to Japan, but found it less and less possible as they had more children with roots in southern California. Their farm must have been reasonably successful since Mine remarked that they were able to hire itinerant laborers from Mexico, the Philippines, and Japan. However, selling their produce required trust. They provided their produce to a haulman who took it to the market, but they had no clue how much the items sold for at market. Sometimes he would simply return without money or the produce, saying he couldn’t sell it and dumped it. After Pearl Harbor, the Kaneko’s were aware that men were being picked up by the FBI and prepared suitcases. Hyotaro was imprisoned in Tujunga, where Mine visited him three times. Eventually Mine was imprisoned at Poston before moving to the Crystal City camp to be reunited with Hyotaro. The Kaneko’s returned to Fukushima after the war, but Mine remarked that the conditions were horrible. The Kaneko’s children returned to the U.S. by the end of the 1940s and they followed in 1955.
George Kanno was born in Santa Ana, CA. Kanno owned some farm land in Santa Ana at the age of 17. Kanno was imprisoned at Poston, but was surprised and upset that he would be imprisoned because of his citizenship. When discussing why some men in Orange County were picked up by the FBI, he pointed out that there was something known as the Imperial Navy Assistance League that some Issei participated in. However, he described it as a “kind of sentimental tie to the old country” since most of the men that participated were past military age. While at Poston, Kanno was allowed to leave camp to work on a sugar beet farm in Fort Morgan, CO. There he met many people of German and Russian descent and said they got along well because they had suffered discrimination during World War One.
James Kanno was born in Santa Ana. Both of his parents were from Fukushima prefecture. At the time of Pearl Harbor, he was attending Santa Ana High School and remembers arguing in a civics class that it would be impossible for him to be imprisoned because of his citizenship. According to Kanno, his father was picked up by the FBI sometime in late 1941 or early 1942 because of his participation in a Japanese language school. While imprisoned, Kanno worked as a dishwasher, apprentice mechanic, and then outside the camp weaving camouflage nets for the military. About a year after entering camp, he left to Michigan to work in a university hospital. He tried to attend University of Michigan at the same time, but was disallowed because the university would not accept Japanese Americans. Kanno believed that he and his family were lucky that their asparagus farm had been kept reasonably well during the war. Kanno also believed that the war was not necessarily the primary reason for their imprisonment, but rather the economic pressure of many Japanese working on valuable land on the west coast that could have been tilled by whites. In the late 1950s, Kanno participated as a major force to incorporate the city of Fountain Valley and was the first Japanese American Mayor in the U.S.
Maki Kanno was born April 10, 1898 in Toyano, now a part of Fukushima city, Fukushima prefecture. Her mother’s side, the Mochiji family, was a samurai family that served the lord of Itakura in Fukushima. However, after marriage, her mother took the name Sato. In her early years, she studied to become a midwife in Fukushima, then worked and trained as a midwife in Ushigome, Tokyo. Right before the 1923 Great Kanto Disaster, she returned to Fukushima because her brother was very ill. At the time she returned, her husband-to-be, Mr. Kanno, happened to have returned from the U.S. to his home village, Akaza, right near Toyano. Kanno implied that her being 25 and him being 34 made them a match—in other words, they were both considered relatively late to marry. Mr. Kanno had originally gone to Hawaii in 1904 with his brother, but eventually moved to Greenville, part of Santa Ana today. The pair traveled to the U.S. from Yokohama, stopping in Hawaii, San Francisco, and finally Los Angeles, where they stayed at the New York Hotel. According to Kanno, she was one of the last Japanese brides able to go to the U.S. because of the 1924 Japanese Exclusion Act. Very soon after arriving in the U.S. Maki was baptized around Easter in 1924. Mr. Kanno was an active Christian and eventually Maki became active at the Wintersburg Presbyterian Church as well. Maki spent the war years imprisoned at Poston, but Mr. Kanno was imprisoned at Lordsburg, NM for a year before being allowed into Poston. They returned to Orange County at the end of the war.
Kenji Kikuchi was born February 28, 1898 in Watari town, Miyagi prefecture. Kikuchi’s family were farmers, but from a young age, Kikuchi was influenced by Christianity. Kikuchi went to Tohoku Gakuin, a Christian school founded by Christian missionaries. In fact, his parents favored him going to Tohoku Gakuin because he participated in the Rodo-kai, a job association that helped with food expenses, room, and board. Kikuchi also attended Sendai Christian School. In 1924 Kikuchi moved to the U.S. for more religious training. He moved to the Bay Area and prepared to attend the San Anselmo theological seminary. Before the school session began, he worked as a laborer picking strawberries in the Imperial Valley and participated in a Methodist Church in Brawley, CA. After completing training in San Anselmo, he began attending Princeton for postgraduate work in theology, which was partially covered by the San Anselmo seminary. Kikuchi had planned to return to Japan after his education at Princeton, but he heard about a pastor opening at a small church in Wintersburg, so he moved there. While pastor at Wintersburg, the mission was officially organized into a church. As pastor, he says that he tried to teach Christian principles that related to daily farming life and described how he would pick up a dozen and a half children in a Model T Ford to get them to Sunday school. Kikuchi’s wife became ill in the mid-1930s and they returned to Japan briefly in 1936. From then on, Kikuchi moved from place to place quite frequently. He spent 1936 to 1939 in Seattle, spent 1939 to 1941 in Los Angeles, and then briefly lived in San Diego before being imprisoned at Santa Anita then Poston. From 1943 to 1944 Kikuchi was let out of Poston to help young people who had moved out of camp to Chicago. Kikuchi returned to San Diego after the war until 1962, before returning to Japan to work in Miyagi and Yamagata for three years. From 1965, Kikuchi worked as a pastor in Utah, Hollywood, and Pasadena, before returning to Orange County in the late 1960s.
J.S. Kishiyama and Y. Kishiyama
J.S. Kishiyama arrived in San Francisco at age 14 on November 26, 1919. J.S. Kishiyama met his father for the first time when he was picked up at Angel Island and went to live with him in a roundhouse working on the railroads. After a couple years, he moved to the Imperial Valley with his brother, farming cantaloupe and watermelon. At age 15, he moved to Hollywood, attending school and working as a domestic for an American family for four to five years. He eventually quit that job and began working a solo vegetable stand. Around 1938, he moved to Phoenix, AZ, working as a flower grower, where he met Y. Kishiyama. Y. Kishiyama was born around 1918 in McCammon, ID. In 1926, her mother died, so her father took his three girls back to Japan, where she attended grammar and high school. Y. Kishiyama returned to the U.S. after completing schooling and took a train to Ogden, UT, before driving to Idaho. By 1938, she was working in Phoenix, AZ at a flower store. The couple was imprisoned at Mayer camp in Arizona for a couple months before being moved to Poston in 1942. Around 1953, they moved to Anaheim.
Roy Kobayashi was born in Los Angeles on November 26, 1917. He attended grade school in Stanton, lived in the Westminster/Bolsa area and graduated from Garden Grove High School. Afterwards, he attended Santa Ana College and graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 1939. Kobayashi was incarcerated at Poston, but left camp to work as a farm laborer in 1943. By chance, he wound up on the chicken farm of Secretary of the Interior, Harold L. Ickes’ in Maryland. Eventually during the war, he moved to Toledo, OH, working in a jeep building plant.
Betty Oba Masukawa
Betty Oba Masukawa was born in Fullerton. Her father was from Tebatabuka village, Fukuoka prefecture, and her mother was from Hilo, Hawaii. They moved to Orange County in 1908, where her father worked for William Hale, the eventual mayor of Fullerton. Masukawa said that her father then began working on a Ross family’s Orange ranch, remaining there for more than 50 years. Masukawa met her husband around 1933 and married in 1934. Her husband owned fruit stands in Santa Ana and Anaheim, and she regularly helped with the Anaheim stand in 1938. Together they also attended Fullerton Presbyterian Church, where no other Japanese went. Masukawa said that she did not pay much attention to the incarceration of Japanese, because she was born in the U.S. In 1941, she was ordered to Poston, but they were able to delay it until May of 1942 because their child had either Measles or Chickenpox. While at Poston, Masukawa worked as a “police matron” and her husband worked in the police department. They returned to Fullerton in 1945.
Tad Munemitsu was born in Torrance, CA. Munemitsu’s parents were from Shikoku and settled in the Moneta area of the Gardena Valley. They raised vegetables and strawberries there. Munemitsu attended the Carlson School in Los Angeles, Westminster Grammar School, High School in Huntington Beach, and finally Fullerton Junior College until the war began. Before the war, Munemitsu’s family was cultivating around 150 acres of strawberries, tomatoes, celery, broccoli, and cabbage. Over the course of their farming lives, Munemitsu’s family worked land that was owned by white people in the city nearby, as well as Westminster land owned by a Hawaiian Nisei.
Clarence Iwao Nishizu
Clarence Iwao Nishizu was born in Los Angeles on December 9, 1910. He grew up in downtown Los Angeles on Amelia St. His family was from Kasuya district in Fukuoka prefecture. The Nishizu’s served as an important connection for many moving from Kasuya district to the U.S. In 1917, he moved to the Stanton area of Garden Grove, where he began attending the Alamitos School with only two other Japanese at the school. He attended Steven Fitz Grammar School in Garden Grove and eventually graduated from Anaheim High School in 1929. While in Orange County, Nishizu’s family farmed pimento chilies, California and Mexican chilies, and sugar beets, and dried their own chilies. Nishizu personally attended to the horses and mules on the farm. However, Nishizu suffered many setbacks in farming before the war. An 80-acre farming venture failed, losing them the land and all the improvements they made. In another instance, the Nishizu’s were forced off of their Anaheim farm because the land was sold. They moved to Buena Park after that, at the location of a Knott’s Berry Farm parking lot today. Nishizu was also very active in local martial arts, participating in Judo and Sumo exhibitions, including one that took him and several other Nisei across the Japanese empire. By 1942, Nishizu sought to find land somewhere outside of the west coast restricted zone instead of be incarcerated, but he was unsuccessful as he faced much discrimination in his trip. Nishizu was incarcerated at Heart Mountain Relocation Center, but spent little time there. He left camp to work on a sugar beet in Colorado, farmed in Decatur, Michigan, and hauled potatoes in 1944. At the end of 1945, he returned to Buena Park, before his upward trajectory as a successful real estate investor in the postwar.
Nishizu made many enduring connections to people in Orange County, including a “special person” at Fullerton Junior College, who he said played a valuable role in Japanese people’s lives. Anita Shepardson opened her home to Japanese victims of a river flood in 1938, paid special attention to Japanese students, and founded a Japanese Club at Fullerton High and Fullerton Junior College. Shepardson had a collection of Japanese art, including woodblocks, produced a play called “The Emperor’s Doll” for Japanese to act in, and was even invited to Japan by the Orange County Japanese community in 1938, who paid for the entire cost.
Hitoshi, Minoru, Mitsuo, and Mary, wife of Hitoshi. Shosuke Nitta was from Yamaguchi prefecture, and arrived to the U.S. in 1897. Taka Umezaki was from Nagasaki prefecture and arrived in Los Angeles in 1914 or 1915. In 1907, after Shosuke Nitta had been living in the U.S. for 10 years, he bought a parcel of land in Santa Ana on Fairview between Bristol and Sullivan. By 1915, Shosuke Nitta also had a restaurant in Los Angeles, but he moved to Santa Ana permanently beginning that year. He and Taka began planting asparagus in 1918, after Hitoshi was born, thus giving them the name Greenspear Farms.
Hitoshi Nitta was born in 1917 in Santa Ana. Like his brothers Mitsuo and Minoru, he worked on his family farm, known as Greenspear farms. Nitta attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, studying agricultural mechanics. Nitta was incarcerated at Poston in May 1942. At the time of departure, he and his family owned about 135 acres of farm land. The government attempted to file an “escheat” case against the Nitta family in order to confiscate their land, but it was unsuccessful. The Nitta family was lucky because their foreman continued to work for them when they were incarcerated, and their finances were overseen by a bank. When they returned in 1945, they were able to pick up where they left off.
Mary Nitta was born March 2, 1916 in Kingsburg, CA in the central valley. Mary was the oldest of three girls and four boys. Both parents were born in on Awaji island, an island in the inland sea between Honshu and Shikoku. Her father arrived as a laborer around the age of 30, working on the railroads and then farms. Her mother arrived as a picture bride in 1915 in Seattle, and married immediately in the presence of a Methodist minister. Her father was a labor contractor and mother had lived in a house with servants before moving to the U.S. So, her mother, who was a picture bride, had to learn to feed 35 to 40 laborers. By the time two children were born in Mary’s family, her father was working as a sharecropper. Mary attended a very small grammar school in Reedley, and did not know any English until beginning first grade. She also attended a Japanese language school on Saturdays. There she learned about Japanese history, manners, and the significance of things like the emperor’s birthday. As a young adult, Mary began attending UC Berkeley in pre-nursing, before returning to the Fresno area for nursing school. She had nearly completed her schooling by the time of incarceration, and the Director of her nursing school made sure she would receive her degree even after being moved to Poston. She met Hitoshi Nitta at Poston and married there. They returned to the Nitta family farm in early 1945.
Minoru Nitta was born August 1, 1918 in Santa Ana. Like his brothers Mitsuo and Hitoshi, Minoru worked on his family farm, known as Greenspear Farms. Minoru attended Santa Ana High School and at the time of Pearl Harbor was on his chicken ranch after graduating from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in poultry husbandry. Nitta was incarcerated at Poston after departing from Huntington Beach by bus. From September 1942 to November 1942, he worked in Nebraska topping peas and picking potatoes. From the end of 1943, he moved to Cleveland, OH, working as a Yellow Cab mechanic, before moving to a Cleveland Steel Products defense plant. He returned to California in August 1945.
Mitsuo Nitta was born January 6, 1920 in Santa Ana. Like his brothers Minoru and Hitoshi, he worked on his family farm, known as Greenspear Farms. Mitsuo attended Diamond Grammar school in Southwest Santa Ana, Lathrop Middle School, and Santa Ana High. Mitsuo continued on to UC Davis, where he studied truck crops. Immediately after graduating from UC Davis, he was drafted. He spent 1942 to 1944 at Camp Shelby, and in November 1943 married his wife Toki in Parkville, Missouri. Mitsuo eventually was commissioned to Fort Benning Officer’s school, before serving in the occupation in Northern Italy in late 1945. He participated in moving POWs, railroad regiments, equipment, and more from Italy to Munich. In July 1946, he returned to Santa Ana.
Kiyoshi Shigekawa was born July 22, 1912 in Los Angeles. His parents were born in Japan and became citizens after World War 2. Before entering Kindergarten, Shigekawa moved to Anaheim. Shigekawa graduated high school in 1930, attended Santa Ana Junior College from 1930 to 1932 and eventually attended Fullerton College. Beginning in 1935, Shigekawa spent his time split between Anaheim and San Pedro, where he fished. Shigekawa was relatively unsurprised by war when it came, because he had witnessed submarine nets being installed. On the morning of Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, while Shigekawa was out with his Japanese fishing crew, he mentioned that a plane was following them the entire time. Shigekawa and his wife were incarcerated at Poston from May 1942. While incarcerated, officials attempted to incriminate them because Mrs. Shigekawa had met a visiting Japanese navy officer, and had her picture taken with him while attending University of Southern California. Kiyoshi was also one of two people who took to court the legality of the Japanese incarceration. He also served as Chief of Police at Poston. Throughout the interview, Kiyoshi Shigekawa expressed both pride and fear about his Japanese heritage. Shigekawa argued that no other minority group could have endured the camps because of unique ethnic attributes. He also worried that his heritage would soon be “gobbled up” as third-generation Japanese were marrying white people. After the war the Shigekawa’s returned to Anaheim, where Kiyoshi worked hauling oranges, tried making a comeback at fishing, and eventually worked for the Fluor Corporation. Mrs. Shigekawa became a pharmacist.
Hana Takahashi was born in Imazu village, Itoshima District, Fukuoka prefecture, now part of Fukuoka city, on March 10, 1893. Hana’s husband, Torakichi Takahashi, traveled to Japan to find a wife sometime around 1910. Torakichi and Hana were related, but apart in age. He was growing strawberries in Santa Anita at the time. Together they returned to the U.S. in 1910, arriving in San Francisco, then traveling to Santa Anita. The next year, they moved to El Monte, then Whittier, and by 1920, they were growing flowers. By 1924, they moved to La Habra Heights. In 1942, the Takahashi’s were incarcerated at the Santa Anita relocation center, before being incarcerated in Arkansas.
Masasko Tashima was born January 2, 1896 in San Francisco. Her parents had established a hotel in San Francisco, but they immediately returned to Japan where Tashima was educated and raised. In 1912 at the age of 16, Tashima returned to the Los Angeles area with the rest of her family. Just a couple years later in 1914, she met her husband and they married that same year. They moved to the Wintersburg area of Orange County, where her husband worked in merchandise and groceries. Tashima says that they were one of the early Japanese families in the Wintersburg area, but not the first. At some point they moved to Garden Grove. After Pearl Harbor, Tashima’s husband was incarcerated by the FBI in Tujunga, then New Mexico, but Tashima was careful to note that her husband was incarcerated with teachers, reverends, professors, and the like rather than so-called “rowdies.” After the war, Tashima moved to Cleveland where her husband was living because of an illness. She notes later on that he died in 1959 because of Parkinson’s disease, but does not describe whether living in Cleveland was the beginning of this.
Roy Uno was born in early 1923 in Oakland, CA. His parents were from Kanazawa in Ishikawa prefecture. Uno wound up being a translator in the military during the war. In 1941 he was living in Hermosa Beach, attending Long Beach Junior College, where he studied advertising and art. By April of 1942 he was living in the Santa Anita assembly area, before being moved to Rohwer, AR in August 1942. In May 1943, he was released from incarceration on leave, and worked at the Edgewater Beach hotel in Chicago. About a year later, he received a draft notice and began training at Fort McClellan, AL. Although Uno was unable to even write the entire hiragana syllabary in Japanese or translate a required text from English to Japanese, he was admitted to military intelligence school in Minnesota. After training, he was deployed to the Philippines as a translator interpreter. In 1945, he spent six or seven months in Pusan, Korea, before returning to Seattle and being discharged at Camp McCay, WI. After the war, Uno spent four years in Chicago, before moving to Los Angeles in 1949. In 1959, Uno moved to Santa Ana, and began participating in local government, particularly the Human Relations Commission to help minority groups gain access to adequate social services.
Takeo Yamada. Takeo Yamada was born in El Monte, CA in 1919. His father came to the U.S. through Mexico, then Texas at Eagle Pass. He began working at the Thompson Ranch in Villa Park, southern California around 1912 to 1915. There he grew cantaloupes, raspberries, strawberries, cauliflower, endive and more, with a few acres for each crop. The Yamada family spent time in a couple different areas in southern California before the war. They moved to La Puente, then Rowland Heights, then Irvine. While describing his family’s time in Irvine, he said that they were only able to farm for three years at most in one place, because they were unable to treat the diseased soil. In fact, Yamada says that most Japanese in southern California moved because of diseased soil. Yamada was able to find a way to lease land in the San Gabriel valley in the late 1930s, thanks to a cousin leasing land for him. When Yamada came of age to lease land, he leased land for three others besides himself, which was a common arrangement among Issei and Nisei. After Pearl Harbor, Yamada and others came under suspicion. Some locals feared that their dusting of tomatoes was somehow a smoke signal for someone else. During the time they were in Irvine, Yamada also says that the Irvine Company kept a security guard to keep hostile anti-Japanese visitors off the property. After the incarceration notices were given, Yamada said the Irvine Company was friendly with Japanese, offering Yamada the opportunity to return at any time. Before leaving to Poston, however, Yamada sold all of his belongings. During his time at Poston, the authorities asked him to volunteer for the military, but he asked who would take care of his parents with no citizen status. After the war, Yamada returned to La Habra and farmed.
Yoshiki Yoshida was born November 10, 1916 in Huntington Beach, CA. Just a couple years later, he remembered moving to Irvine in 1919 on a horse and wagon, somewhere on Culver Dr. Yoshida’s father, Roku Bei Yoshida, was involved with so-called “tramp labor,” moving depending on where work was. His father was partnered with his brother Mataichi, cousin Matsuo Oki, and about 10 to 15 other Japanese. Around 1921, leasing and land owning laws changed, which forced many Japanese out of the Irvine Ranch area. The Yoshida’s moved south to Chula Vista. Around 1932, Yoshida began practicing Kendo. The next year, Yoshida returned to the Irvine Ranch, and began practicing Kendo with a Mr. Aoki in Laguna Beach, likely at Cottage 34 in today’s Crystal Cove. In 1934, Yoshida graduated from Tustin High, and then began attending Santa Ana Junior College. In 1937, he took over his father’s farm, and by 1941 he was the president of the Orange County Japanese American Citizen’s League. Right before incarceration, Yoshida was finally getting the hang of farming on his father’s land, however, the incarceration forced him to sell off most of his property. He suggested that had they kept the land and continued farming, “I would have been pretty well off.” Yoshida was incarcerated at Poston, while his father was incarcerated separately in Bismarck, ND. Yoshida was also under suspicion because of his Kendo interest. Towards the later years of incarceration, he was allowed leave and traveled to Nebraska working on a beet topping crew. Yoshida also met his wife at Poston. After the war, Yoshida worked on the east coast in a clothing factory, but returned to California in February 1946, working for the Los Angeles Growers Association and then the Orange County Vegetable Growers Association. At the time of the interview, the discussion of reparations for Japanese incarcerees was being discussed nationally—Yoshida was critical of the possibility of a reparation settlement, because of how it could unsettle racial relations, but admitted he would take it if offered.
Kin'ichi Kimbo Yoshitomi
Kin’ichi Kimbo Yoshitomi was born December 9, 1916, in Oakland, CA. His mother was from Osaka and came to the U.S. as a picture bride. His father was from Fukuoka prefecture. Shortly after the Great Crash in 1929, Yoshitomi moved to Sacramento in the middle of the night with his mother, leaving behind his father. Afterwards, Yoshitomi moved back to San Francisco, working as a delivery person for two women who owned a millinery and hat shop. He graduated from the High School of Commerce in San Francisco in 1935. In 1936, Yoshitomi moved to Reno, before returning to San Francisco soon after, and working for the Ottawa Matsuoka Company, a silk firm. Yoshitomi was incarcerated at Tanforan from May to September of 1942, before being relocated to Topaz, UT incarceration camp. Eventually, presumably after the war, Yoshitomi moved to Cleveland, OH, where he opened a Japanese food store. In 1955, he moved to Anaheim, CA, and bought land around Disneyland right before it opened.