Discover Nikkei

Paintings reflecting on camp

In a lot of ways it all came back to me again. Because not only was it just about making a documentary but the paintings were very emotional. They really depicted...and I really saw things visually now. I saw how...where the main painting, or the main title of the painting, which is used with the logo now, is, is a boy of me looking out among the wall of fences and sort of gate thing. Fence. And looking beyond Castle Rock at the sunset. 'Cause I always remember the sunset. At Tule Lake, they were just magnificent, you know. And, uh, you just never see anything like it. You know, even the other day, yester... when I was out there I saw the sunset and the it was just so beautiful. And just this boy's just looking out and it's wonderful as I said, and on the other half a painting, was a reverse. I'm looking out with these barracks in the background with a dark black gray barracks with the watchtower in the distance. Watchtowers you know and the fence. I mean not a fence but just like, the light..the way the fence was in the foreground in front of them, you know. And that was uh... that painting was the first painting that was sold. It just.. they saw this, this kid. Who was me. You, you know in this thing. You know I did one of the train and the one of the seagulls and the one in the train when my father was ill and I was sitting in the seat. And in the back he was in bed with my mother who was watching him, looking at him. And I remember just about every one of them. I did the snake. Well these were all watercolors. I did these in watercolors that was sold...

And I did one when we were in the camp and awaiting the cue, a line rather, you know, to...for breakfast, you know. I mean I drew all, all four of us, I think my sister, my dad, and that's why they did us, you know...And the, uh, the chef they would, you know how they would do their eggs, you know 'cause they have to feed seventy five many people in one block that they, they'd get boxes of dozens of eggs throw it into this vat. The whole thing, shell and all. You know and you get this p-p- this fork and just crush all the egg shells and mix it around - scramble it - shell and all. You know. And then come with a screen and then come pick them up. Take the shells out, you know. But geez that screen was not taking all the shells out. It left the small ones. And as you were eating you'd always...I remember always as a kid I'd take the shells out. But, but without complaining because this is normal. This is the way you eat eggs, I thought. Take the shells off.

barracks California concentration camps food graphic arts painting Tule Lake concentration camp United States 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)


Life in camp as teenager

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


Hiding what happened in camp

(1922–2014) Political and civil rights activist.


Camp as a positive thing

(1922–2014) Political and civil rights activist.


His father describes the importance of photographing camp life

(1924-2016) Photographer and businessman.


Involvement in JACL

(b.1935) American born Japanese. Retired businessman.

Yamano,Jane Aiko

New Year's food

(b.1964) California-born business woman in Japan. A successor of her late grandmother, who started a beauty business in Japan.

Yokoyama,Wayne Shigeto

Food growing up

(b.1948) Nikkei from Southern California living in Japan.

Matsumoto,Roy H.

Train ride to Jerome Relocation Center

(b.1913) Kibei from California who served in the MIS with Merrill’s Marauders during WWII.

Bain,Peggie Nishimura

Learning American cooking

(b.1909) Nisei from Washington. Incarcerated at Tule Lake and Minidoka during WWII. Resettled in Chicago after WWII

Bain,Peggie Nishimura

Move from Tule Lake to Minidoka

(b.1909) Nisei from Washington. Incarcerated at Tule Lake and Minidoka during WWII. Resettled in Chicago after WWII


442 soldiers visiting U.S. concentration camps

(b. 1924) Political scientist, educator, and administrator from Hawai`i


Receiving a negative reaction from father upon asking about World War II experience

(b. 1939) Japanese American painter, printmaker & professor


Loss of happy-go-lucky adolescence in Puyallup Assembly Center

(b. 1923) Nisei from Washington. Resisted draft during WWII.


Memories of dusty conditions at Minidoka incarceration camp

(b. 1923) Nisei from Washington. Resisted draft during WWII.


Family life in a Japanese Canadian internment camp in Slocan

(b. 1920) Incarcerated during World War II. Active member of the Japanese Canadian community