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 15, 2010


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.


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