Building 640 at the Presidio in San Francisco

Building 640 at the Presidio in San Francisco
Information Source for the Military Intelligence Service Historic Learning Center

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Students Share Their Experience at NJAHS: Reiko’s Story

Reiko remembers how camp life was in Jerome, Arkansas. As a native Hawaiian, she and her family had to relocated to the interned camp. Her father was a Buddhist Minister and Community leader. As Community leader, many of the people who were illiterate, asked helped to for help. Her father helped Japanese Farmers with registering of newborn babies in the Japanese Counsel. She believes that her father was targeted due to his Community leadership and close connections to the Japanese Council. In realty, he was only a serving the Japanese Community. Her family, along with her dad, was sent to Jerome, Arkansas. They are later relocated to the more segregated camp, Tule Lake.

While in Jerome, Reiko tells us of about the kind human kindness of some of the white Anglo-Saxon teachers, whom willing wanted to educate the Nisei children. She tells us of the professors willing to help with English and Math, despite the fact the internees were Japanese-Americans. During this time, there was a lot of discrimination and racism because of the war. After the war, some students and teachers have made long lasting friendships.

She remembers an eye opener of un-equality when she was talking to young U.S Army Soldier Guard. She was surprise that there was in illiterate soldier in U.S. Army. She remembers that in a 3 to 4 day period, she attempted to help him how to read. In Hawaii everyone knew how to read and write, and she felt compelled to help him how to read.

When Reiko was asked how do they (farmers) deal with so much boredom, she states, ” They take the circumstance under which they live and they make the best of it.” She sums up as the “Art of Gaman”. They had to leave their farms and the only way to release an energy disillusion and frustration, events they had nothing to do with, was by planting a small flower gardens. Her story has a special meaning of courage. You your best under the circumstance your put in, as it was for all Japanese-American people that were interned in the relocation camps.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Students Share Their Experience at NJAHS: Eiko’s Story

I have just finished transcribing Eiko's interview where she talks about her life before the war, in the internment camps and her life after the war. Eiko didn't have much of a childhood, her mother was a hypochondriac and so she had to raise her two younger brothers. She completed high school while interned in Tule Lake and was part of their first graduating class. Her family was then moved to camp Jerome in Arkansas, after the no, no questionnaire. A few months later Eiko's family was moved again to Gila, Arizona. She had a job in all three camps, working as a trey girl in the camp hospital and as a dish washer to help support her family. Because Eiko had a job and took care of her brothers she didn't have much of a social life within the camps.
Once they were released her family moved to Los Angeles to be closer to her fathers brother. She then worked as a housekeeper for a Jewish family and gave most of her earnings to her family. Eiko was introduced to her husband through her friend's brother and were engaged about three months later. Eiko and her husband Jimmy have four kids and have been married sixty-two years. Jimmy was also interned at Tule Lake and they both have attended several pilgrimages to the camp.
I really enjoyed transcribing Eiko's story, I've learned a lot from her experience and have a better understanding of what it was like for her and many others that endured the internment camps.

-Sophia Salazar


On Thursday, December 9, 2010 NJAHS showed the film “Leap of Faith” at the gallery. The film was about how religion kept the people in camps strong and how the young adults stood up and made a difference in their communities. The faiths in the camps also strengthen the people.

After the film screening, Lloyd Wake, Nob Fukuda, and Hiroshi Kashiwagi talked about their experiences of their faith in camps with Julie Yumi Hatta being the facilitator. The three of them had different experiences and faced different obstacles while they were in camp. Lloyd was a Christian and he was relocated to Poston 3 with about 5,000 Japanese Americans. His camp was really relaxing and the guards did not use the guard towers to watch over the Japanese Americans. He was only a kid when his family was put in the camp. What he remembered was that many of the Church members made trips to the camp and held many services. Also, there were a young group of pastors coming out and they spoke English during services. It was a new change because the young pastors attracted many young people to the services. During one Christmas, the youth group performed three concerts in Poston 1, Poston 2 and Poston 3. However for Nob Fukuda, the experience was different. He came from the Shinto Church and was resettled in Topaz. The camp was stricter and they were not allowed to hold any service in camp except for funeral. A lot of their Church members came and socialized with them but service was not allowed. Hiroshi Kashiwagi believes in Buddhism and his experience was also different. He was around 19-20 years old when he was relocated to Tule Lake. They formed a youth leader organization and had Sunday evening services with speaker talking in English to attract the youth. They even held conferences to get all the young people together and he was even a Sunday school teacher.

The three panelists’ experiences show that everyone experienced camp life differently. Some camps are stricter while some are easy-going. Also, the Christian religion was freely allowed to hold services but the Shinto religion was forbidden. The camps were against the Japanese religions because they want everyone to be loyal and if anyone didn’t practice the Christianity, they were the enemies.

Camp life caused some of them to be ashamed of being Japanese Americans and they eliminated everything about them that were related to Japanese. For example, Hiroshi didn’t practice his religion anymore after he left camp. He was ashamed of his Japanese and didn’t accept his religion again until many years after when he realized that other non-Asians were interested in the religion. Internment camps changed many people’s lives but after many years, they finally accept who they are again and came back to support the Japanese American community.

The movie night was a good turn out because there were 12 people that attended the event and it was a nice way to learn new things about life in the internment camps from the actual person instead of just reading books about them. First hand experiences are valuable information and more people should come to more of NJAHS events and they will learn many new things.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Students Share Their Experience at NJAHS: Asa’s Story

Asa Hanamoto was one of the "Yes-yes" internees that managed to find a way out of the Japanese internment camps. As a child in a farming family, Mr. Hanamoto was quite experienced with agricultural work. He was able to use these skills to his advantage, and volunteer as an agricultural worker during the internment. He succeeded in avoiding staying in the camps for quite a while, but was eventually forced to return. Here, he came into contact with the "No-no" group in the camps, and was forced to tread carefully in camp. However, it was at this point that he was drafted into the army.

Mr. Hanamoto's was drafted into the army as a regular soldier, but due to his background and knowledge of at least basic Japanese, he was recruited to join the military's MIS division, working as a translator and interpreter. He trained both as a soldier and as a translator, but by the time most of his training was finished, the war was practically over.

Since the war was already finished, Mr. Hanamoto was only required to go to a few places while in the military. First, he stayed in the Phillipines, then he moved to Japan, where the military was doing it's post-war occupation.

Mr. Hanamoto's stories were very detailed, as well as very informative. He had a very active life during the internment period, and his stories were very interesting to listen to and transcribe. He was able to continue his life to some degree instead of being stuck in the internment camps, and he had quite a few stories to tell because of it. It was an interesting experience to listen to him.

Library is done!

So after a month and a half of work, the library down here at NJAHS is finally finished, books are now catagorized and alphabetized for all your reference needs. The number of available Japanese-American history books is staggering. NJAHS is a perfect place for you to come down and study say if you have a Japanese Art History final coming up this week and you could use a little refresher on your course material, plenty of books here that were mentioned and referenced in my class at SFSU that I never thought I'd be able to find.

Over all, volunteering at NJAHS has been a fairly nice experience, it has given me some time to recognize the deep involvement of Japanese-Americans, specifically on the west coast. The amount of books based upon the 442nd and 100th were particularly interesting considering that they were some of the most decorated units in the entirety of WWII.

Please don't hesitate to stop by and check out all the hard work that has gone into the organization of our Japan and Japanese-American library!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Students Share Their Experience at NJAHS: Toshio's Story

It has been 6 visits, each visit ~2 hours long, but I have finally reach my goal of finish transcribing Toshio Enomoto long journey through the concentration camp of Tule lake and Manzanar. Through out his interview he brings up a lot about his experience of positive and negative events in concentration camp. When I listen to his life as one of the many in camp, he describes it so vividly that Ii feel like I am in his shoes sometimes experience what he is doing, and the struggles he went through. However sad this may seem, he express no qualm during his life and he has quite the humor when telling the story of his very first girl friend in camp. His life is one amazing part of history of being in camp as a no-no boy and later being drafted but later release. The interviewer laughs at how he was drafted mistakenly, because Toshio did not really have to serve but did go through training. He live his life with no regrets and he wants everyone else to do so, just do your best.

Students Share Their Experience at NJAHS: Rochelle

Hey everyone! My name is Rochelle and I am one of the volunteers from SFSU that came to help NJAHS with their interview project this semester! This experience has definitely been a memorable one. The first day at our orientation, I told Yuko that I was half Japanese, and was able to read, comprehend, and write in Japanese. Not knowing that this would affect me, she quickly told me that she was excited because she needed someone to translate an interview, instead of transcribe one. I was really excited at first, but when I left, I immediately started regretting my decision. I started to think that I was being way to confident about my abilities!

The first day I came in the next week, she assigned me to translate Albert Yoshikawa's interview. It was pre-recorded so listening and writing down and then translating should've been easy. However, the disc she gave me didn't match up with the already transcribed interview. Because of this problem, we both decided that i could just read the transcribed interview (in Japanese) and translate it from there.

This is when I really started to regret my decision of letting someone know that I understood Japanese. Understanding it and being able to read it are two completely different things. Though I am capable of reading and writing Hiragana and Katakana, I was really weak in the Kanji department, and let me tell you, this interview was FULL of it. Right now I'm taking a Intensive study of Kanji class at SFSU so my kanji was better than before but not at its fullest potential. This definitely ended up being a challenge.

But I didn't let it discourage me. A lot of it ended up being stuff that I was learning at the time and made it easier for me.

The interview started off with Albert talking about his grandfather and his life, going back and forth to Japan and America. That took up most of what I had to translate since I only did the first half of the interview. It was mainly about Albert's history, how he was born here but spent a lot of his life in Japan and returning to be a farmer like his grandfather and father. Towards the end, it talked about his feelings about Pearl Harbor and the Tule Lake, the internment camp he was interned in. By the end of my part, the story of the internment camps was about to start, so I didn't really learn about anything from that. Just a lot about Albert. I feel like I've known him for years and we are best friends. :]

But because this was such a challenge, I didn't think I would be able to finish it. But here I am, my last day at NJAHS and the interview is fully translated. Hopefully my translation is up to par and they approve it and understand it! Now I'm just waiting for the Thursday night movie night to start so I can help set up, participate in, and clean up to end my wonderful day!

Well NJAHS, it was a pleasure working for you this semester and I wish you all the best of luck with your organization!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Holiday Cultural Open Mic

On December 4, 2010, NJAHS held a holiday appreciation party for the members of NJAHS and those who volunteer to help the organization. Every participant was kind and warm, there were many stories that were passed along and experiences shared with us. There was also an open mike portion in which there were many musical talents and poetry readings. The afternoon started off with a potluck and sharing of stories with each other. Even those who didn't know anyone felt at ease and made new friends along the way. As the afternoon went on everyone was having a great time and enjoying some Christmas music and good food with great people. As two o'clock came we started the open mike for those who wanted to share their traditions, thoughts, poetry and music with us.

We had a gentlemen, Hiroshi Kashiwagi,who recited poetry and short stories that he has written from his experiences in internment camp (right picture). While he was reciting short stories and poems I could picture him as a little boy going through life as a Japanese American living in the United States. His books (Shoe Box Plays, Swimming in the American and Ocean Beach)are available at NJAHS. We also had the pleasure of learning a Malaysian song performed by Ashley Mo (left picture), who was a summer intern for NJAHS. She had everyone participate by teaching hand movements. Afterwards there was more poetry reading from extraodinary people. Peter Yamamoto, a long time volunteer for at NJAHS shared his poetry. Along with Ken Kaji who is a NJAHS Board Member also shared his wonderful poetry with us (lower right picture).
Peter Yamamoto (below)

Ken Kaji, member of the
board of NJAHS

Wesley Ueunten
Professor and curator of
Nuchi du Takara (below)
There were also musical talents, with performances by Jacob Bautista (lower right picture), an intern at NJAHS and Wesley Ueunten (left picture), a college professor and curator of upcoming NJAHS exhibit, Nuchi du Takara: Lessons from the Battle of Okinawa. Just listening to the performances takes you to another world. I felt like I was taken to Japan and watching traditional Japanese music being performed and getting lost in the music. While Jacob shared with us some is his hidden musical talent, it took some of us back to our memories of mainland Japan and watching a traditional performance that has been passed down through generations.

At the end of the party, we drew NJAHS' Benefit Raffle 2010. Winers are;
Grand Prize: Ticket# 0881 Airfare for Two to Japan
2nd Prize: Ticket# 0501 Airfare for Two to Hawaii
3rd Prize: Ticket# 0874 $1,500 Cash
The benefit drawing helped NJAHS raised over $6,800!
Thank you for participating and congratulations winners!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Students Share Their Experience at NJAHS: Amy

My name is Amy and I am a student from San Francisco State University. Today is my last day volunteering at NJAHS. I have finally completed my volunteer work and reached the point where I finished the oral history project. It was my first experience learning how to use the transcribing program called Transcriva. This was not only a challenging experience, but also a memorable one hearing the interview of Teruo Ishihara. He begins the interview talking about his family's background and his experience when he was in grad school. In his life, he had a positive experience through the camp in Tule Lake. I believe the scariest moment of his life was when he was transported in the train without knowing where he will be ended up in. There were also soldiers with weapons to make sure nobody look out the window. He enjoyed going to Japanese language school with the passion of learning more Japanese. He is very well connected with the Japanese community with the feeling of bonding and being accepted by others. He was also really supportive of his family and children. Especially, during the time when his father did not answer the loyalty question. While listening to his interview, I was inspired by his stories about his life and the time in Tule Lake Pilgrimage. I admired him very much because he is a very positive and confident person. Overall, I had a pleasant time listening to the interview of the oral history project. I had a great and wondering experience working at NJAHS. If i had a chance to transcribe more oral history project, I would be happy to come and volunteer at NJAHS again.