Discover Nikkei

Early Childhood

I was born in Santa Maria, California in 1934. In fact, my birthday was a week ago. I am 80 years old now.

My father, by the way, he had an unusual history because he was an Issei immigrant from Wakayama Prefecture, but he had attended Waseda University. He came to this country, and he went to the University of Utah, and so he is a graduate of the University of Utah. But after that, sometime after that, he and my mother, they settled in Santa Maria, California, where he was the… I guess you would call it the executive director of an agricultural co-op in the Santa Maria Valley, where I was born in 1934. He died while I was still oh… 4 years old.

So at that time, I had 3 sisters. So there were 4 of us kids, and my mother was a widow then. I was about 4 years old, and my mother moved us to Los Angeles. So I grew up mostly in Los Angeles.

When the war started, 1941, I was what… 7 years old I guess. And shortly thereafter, in May of ‘42, we were… what’s the word they use…evacuated to the relocation camp at Poston, Arizona and spent the war years  in Poston, Arizona from May ’42 till August 1945.

When we returned to the Los Angeles area and I lived here ever since, except for taking time off to be in the military and to go to school. Otherwise, I have lived my entire life in Southern California. 

Date: July 2, 2014

Location: California, US

Interviewer: Sakura Kato

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

Interviewee Bio

Born in Santa Maria California, Judge Atsushi Wallace Tashima is the first Japanese American and the third Asian American in history to serve on a U.S. Court of Appeals. He was born to Issei immigrants and spent three years of his childhood in the Poston War Relocation Center in Poston, Arizona. When Tashima entered his first year of Harvard Law School in 1958, he was one of only 4 Asian American students at Harvard. Nevertheless, Tashima went on to lead a 34 year-long career as a federal judge. In 1980, Tashima was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California by President Carter. After serving 15 years on the U.S. District Court, President Clinton elevated Tashima to the U.S Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which covers the nine western states on the West Coast. As as 2004, Tashima assumed senior status and currently sits in the Ninth Circuit Pasadena Couthouse in Pasadena, CA.  (August 2014)

*This is one of the main projects completed by The Nikkei Community Internship (NCI) Program intern each summer, which the Japanese American Bar Association and the Japanese American National Museum have co-hosted.


Realizing Importance of Birthplace

(b. 1944) taiko and flute performer


Honing Artistic Talent at Camp

(b. 1944) taiko and flute performer

Todd,Kathryn Doi

On Working in the Appellate Court

(b. 1942) The first Asian American woman judge


Her experience of Japanese American Evacuation

(1916-2016) Florist


Memories of Manzanar

(1916-2016) Florist


Working in the camp hospital

(1916-2016) Florist


Her grandmother comes to Manzanar

(1916-2016) Florist

Biller,Francesca Yukari

Fitting in to both sides of her family

Jewish Japanese American journalist

Iwasaki,Hikaru “Carl”

Returning to San Jose

(1923 - 2016) WRA photographer


His mother’s money belt

(b. 1938) Japanese American painter & printmaker