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Interned at age fifteen, I saw camp as an adventure

At fifteen, I think the thing was more of an adventure. I think that different people at different ages had different reactions, but for me at fifteen, it was sort of an adventure. What was going to happen next? [At] fifteen you know you’re invincible. You could do anything, so . . . I don’t recall any negative experience, at least initially. I think that set in later. No one realized that there would be no school until—well we didn’t know, but there was no school until the fall, but we were right in the middle of school. So that left a big void. And of course, there wasn’t really anything to do. That was one of the biggest problems.


imprisonment incarceration World War II World War II camps

Date: June 12, 1998

Location: California, US

Interviewer: Darcie Iki, Mitchell Maki

Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum

Interviewee Bio

In 1927, William Hohri was born the youngest of six children in San Francisco, California. Following the outbreak of World War II, he and his family became incarcerated at Manzanar concentration camp in California. A week after his high school graduation, Hohri was released from camp to study at Wheaton College in Wisconsin. In March 1945, Hohri attempted to visit his father in Manzanar and was instead imprisoned for traveling without a permit. Hohri was given an individual exclusion order and forced at gunpoint to leave California by midnight that same day.

Later, Hohri became a member of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), but was disappointed with their disregard to the anti-war and Civil Rights movements. When JACL moved towards supporting a congressional commission to study the concentration camps, a group of Chicago and Seattle dissenters led by Hohri formed the National Council for Japanese American Redress in May 1979, seeking redress through direct individual payments. Initially, Hohri and NCJAR worked with Representative Mike Lowry (D-Washington), but when the resolution was defeated, Hohri and NCJAR redirected their efforts to seek redress through the courts. Hohri, along with twenty four other plaintiffs, filed a class-action lawsuit on March 16, 1983, against the government for twenty-seven billion dollars in damages.

He passed away on Nov. 12, 2010 at age 83. (November 2011)

George Katsumi Yuzawa
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George Katsumi Yuzawa

Neighbors' sympathy after Pearl Harbor

(1915 - 2011) Nisei florist who resettled in New York City after WW II. Active in Japanese American civil rights movement

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Henry Shimizu
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Henry Shimizu

No immediate impact after Pearl Harbor

(b. 1928) Doctor. Former Chair of the Japanese Canadian Redress Foundation.

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Henry Shimizu
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Henry Shimizu

Treatment of Japanese fishermen in Canada during World War II

(b. 1928) Doctor. Former Chair of the Japanese Canadian Redress Foundation.

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Henry Shimizu
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Henry Shimizu

Japanese newspaper supported by Canadian government during World War II

(b. 1928) Doctor. Former Chair of the Japanese Canadian Redress Foundation.

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Eric Nakamura
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Eric Nakamura

Skateboarding at Manzanar

Giant Robot co-founder and publisher

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James Hirabayashi
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James Hirabayashi

Life in camp as teenager

(1926 - 2012) Scholar and professor of anthropology. Leader in the establishment of ethnic studies as an academic discipline

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Mas Kodani
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Mas Kodani

Fun at concentration camp

Senshin Buddhist Temple minister and co-founder of Kinnara Taiko.

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Yuri Kochiyama
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Yuri Kochiyama

Hiding what happened in camp

(1922–2014) Political and civil rights activist.

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Yuri Kochiyama
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Yuri Kochiyama

Issei are hard-working

(1922–2014) Political and civil rights activist.

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Yuri Kochiyama
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Yuri Kochiyama

Camp as a positive thing

(1922–2014) Political and civil rights activist.

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Archie Miyatake
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Archie Miyatake

His father describes the importance of photographing camp life

(1924-2016) Photographer and businessman.

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Grayce Ritsu Kaneda Uyehara
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Grayce Ritsu Kaneda Uyehara

Importance of education in achieving redress for incarceration

(1919-2014) Activist for civil rights and redress for World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans.

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Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston
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Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston

Initial impact on life at camp

(b. 1934) Writer

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Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston
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Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston

The birth of a novel through a conversation with her nephew

(b. 1934) Writer

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George Abe
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George Abe

Realizing Importance of Birthplace

(b. 1944) taiko and flute performer

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