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Return to Los Angeles

Here I was in this camp and the news came out that they were reopening the west coast. Anyone that wanted to go back would be allowed to. There was a great deal of reticence on the part of the majority of people who were interned. They were cursed on, cursed at, yanked out of their homes, ripped off of their possessions and thrown into this place with barbed wire. It wasn’t that easy of a decision for them to say OK we’re going back to this place where all that happened.

I was young enough, naive enough to decide “I’m going back.” that’s where Jefferson High School comes back into play because I figured if anything happened and things became unpleasant I’d go run and hide into one of those areas like that. I’d probably still maintained a few high school friends, at least that was my thinking. Came out and settled into a hostel that existed in Boyle heights. I think it was on Evergreen. I have an idea that was where I made phone calls to Disney studios.


California concentration camps Los Angeles Manzanar concentration camp postwar United States World War II World War II camps

Date: August 6, 1998

Location: California, US

Interviewer: Janice Tanaka

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

Interviewee Bio
Iwao Takamoto (April 29, 1925 – January 8, 2007) was a legendary animator for Walt Disney and Hanna Barbera, most famously designing Scooby Doo in the late sixties. Incarcerated at Manzanar after graduating high school, Iwao leveraged his art skills into a job at Disney upon returning to Los Angeles, working on classic animated films like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. He would go on to mentor other Japanese American animators such as Willie Ito, who worked with him on Lady and the Tramp. After leaving Disney for Hanna-Barbera in 1962, Iwao continued animating, as well as producing and directing films like Charlotte's Web (1973) until his retirement. (June 2021)
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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Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston
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Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston

Impact of Pearl Harbor on her family

(b. 1934) Writer

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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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Roy H. Matsumoto
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Roy H. Matsumoto

Mixed emotions after declaration of war on Japan

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

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George Abe
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George Abe

Honing Artistic Talent at Camp

(b. 1944) taiko and flute performer

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Roy H. Matsumoto
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Roy H. Matsumoto

Train ride to Jerome Relocation Center

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

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Roy H. Matsumoto
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Roy H. Matsumoto

Atmosphere in his Merrill’s Marauders unit when surrounded by Japanese soldiers

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

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Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston
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Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston

Not a "camp story" but a human story

(b. 1934) Writer

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Grace Aiko Nakamura
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Grace Aiko Nakamura

Larry designing chairs in the camp

Sister of automotive designer Larry Shinoda

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Richard Kosaki
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Richard Kosaki

Under suspicion after Pearl Harbor

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

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Art Shibayama
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Art Shibayama

Family's deportation from Peru to U.S. after the bombing of Pearl Harbor

(1930-2018) Nisei born in Peru. Taken to the United States during WWII.

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Art Shibayama
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Art Shibayama

Conditions aboard U.S. transport ship while being deported from Peru

(1930-2018) Nisei born in Peru. Taken to the United States during WWII.

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Roger Shimomura
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Roger Shimomura

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

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

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