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Losing his sister in camp

She got leukemia, a form of leukemia that uh she had to be hospitalized. And it took her a long time for her to die.

The hospital was outside of the camp proper, and uh where you had to go through a fence and guards to get... go to camp. So you couldn't visit. My mother was always there as I recall.  And my father was there quite often.  So we were left alone, most of the time. And it affected not me more than my younger sister because she never had a mother, you know. So, she blamed it on her sister for...being as a kid that is thinking terms of the jealousy factor, as competition.

But anyways she was um in hospital for a while. There's two things that they reckoned with prolonged her death was that uh she had a blood transfusion there. Just about everybody in that block gave blood, you know. And then the church was praying for her. That was the story I got. So the...my father told them, and mother said, I don't think...I think she's suffering too much so don't pray.

Well my mother never recovered. I'm sure she didn't. My father was um he was a real tough guy. In the sense that he knew what situation he was in. He never really showed this, saw this. He retained his dignity and his strength to not fall apart. And he kept saying now we must go on and all this kind of... You know, it was ganbatte. You know, he was really not um sort of you know in a state that he couldn't reorganize, keep the family together.  He kept it together.  I know it, I know I, he...he was quite upset...quite angry but it never showed  He had to go along with the Japanese tradition. He had to be Nihonjin and not go into... you know fall apart.

So that was what... and then when my sister and broth..died... my..my sister died she was cremated.  And then I understand a lot of them were buried too, right. But this is uh..my sister told me this the other day they were buried in a junkyard. You know?  And uh in unmarked graves, you know, which they used to do in Germany, you know, with... with the victims, you know.


California concentration camps families Tule Lake concentration camp United States World War II World War II camps

Date: June 29, 2012

Location: California, US

Interviewer: Chris Komai, John Esaki

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

Interviewee Bio

Jimmy Murakami (1933 – 2014) was inspired as a child to become a film animator by watching the Disney cartoons that were shown to Japanese Americans confined at the Tule Lake concentration camp during WWII. After attending Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles, he worked as an animator for UPA. He later founded Murakami Wolf—a company that produced many well-known commercials in the 1960s and 70s—and became a feature film director of When the Wind Blows and The Snowman. After establishing residence in Ireland in recent years, he passed away in February of 2014 at age 80.  (June 2014)

Gene Akutsu
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Gene Akutsu

Living conditions in prison while serving time for resisting the draft

(b. 1925) Draft resister

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Gene Akutsu
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Gene Akutsu

Talking to children about decision to resist the draft during World War II

(b. 1925) Draft resister

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Gene Akutsu
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Gene Akutsu

Deciding whether to answer "yes-yes" on the loyalty questionnaire in order to leave camp

(b. 1925) Draft resister

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Gene Akutsu
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Gene Akutsu

Reflecting on Japanese Americans' response to incarceration

(b. 1925) Draft resister

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George Yamada
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George Yamada

Memories of railroad workers who stayed at family's prewar hotel in Spokane, Washington

(b. 1923) Chick sexer

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George Yamada
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George Yamada

Japanese American railroad workers are fired following the bombing of Pearl Harbor

(b. 1923) Chick sexer

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George Yamada
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George Yamada

A racist encounter at a movie theater following the bombing of Pearl Harbor

(b. 1923) Chick sexer

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George Yamada
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George Yamada

Encountering a train full of Japanese Americans being transported to a concentration camp

(b. 1923) Chick sexer

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Margaret Oda
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Margaret Oda

Growing up with Japanese language and values

(1925 - 2018) Nisei educator from Hawai‘i

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Roberto Hirose
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Roberto Hirose

Retaining Japanese customs (Spanish)

(b. 1950) Nisei Chilean, Businessman

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Paula Hoyos Hattori
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Paula Hoyos Hattori

Her interests in Japanese culture (Spanish)

Sansei Argentinean

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Paula Hoyos Hattori
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Paula Hoyos Hattori

The memory of her grandfather (Spanish)

Sansei Argentinean

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Paula Hoyos Hattori
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Paula Hoyos Hattori

Studying Japanese to understand her grandfather (Spanish)

Sansei Argentinean

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Ryoko Hokama
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Ryoko Hokama

The most memorable day of his life (Japanese)

(b. 1917) Okinawan, Issei Argentinean

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Ryoko Hokama
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Ryoko Hokama

How he met his wife (Japanese)

(b. 1917) Okinawan, Issei Argentinean

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