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Running Japanese store

There, there wasn’t a big Japanese community. But eventually, there, what the store depended on a lot was that they had a lot of, uh, war brides. Because there’s March Air Force Base, George Air Force Base, Norton Air Force Base, uh, there was a marine base out in Twentynine Palms. So they had all these military facilities and so these guys would bring their wives back from Japan.

And so our store became kind of a clearinghouse. They’d, they’d trade off Japanese magazines, you know, women’s magazines, and my mother would be the conduit for this flow. Um, so we’d have to pick up Japanese food every once in a while, especially Shogatsu time, you know, where we’d have to go into LA to pick up mochi and stuff like that, you know.

California food Japanese food military bases San Bernardino United States

Date: September 8, 2011

Location: California, US

Interviewer: John Esaki, Kris Kuramitsu

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

Interviewee Bio

Ben Sakoguchi, born in 1938, is a painter and printmaker who has lived in the Los Angeles area his entire life, except for the time when he and his family were incarcerated in Poston Arizona. After studying painting in the 1960s at the University of California, Los Angeles, he developed a distinctive style that is rooted in pairing a narrative painting tradition with a pop culture vocabulary. He is best known for his long running “Orange Crate Label” series, using the classic crate label format to explore diverse subject matter and to combine them in a way that allows for both sharp critique and wry humor. His work is deeply and politically engaged, and he takes a deep delight in the craft and beauty of painting itself. Sakoguchi was a professor at Pasadena City College for nearly 35 years. Visit his website at (Oct. 2011)

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