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The only Japanese family in Ocean Park

My father was always a loner. He never lived within, like, the Japanese community. We were the only Japanese family at Ocean Park. So he was a loner in that respect so I don’t know if he experienced racism, although I’m sure he did because you know how terrible the laws were. But somehow, it didn’t…it wasn’t an issue until after he came back from Bismarck and after Manzanar and you know, he began drinking and, oh, it was like total change. And he never spoke to a Caucasian after that. He was quite bitter. Quite bitter.


discrimination interpersonal relations racism World War II

Date: December 27, 2005

Location: California, US

Interviewer: John Esaki

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

Interviewee Bio

Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, co-author of the acclaimed Farewell to Manzanar, was born in 1934 in Inglewood, California. The youngest of ten children, she spent her early childhood in Southern California until 1942 when she and her family were incarcerated at the World War II concentration camp at Manzanar, California.

In 1945, the family returned to Southern California where they lived until 1952 when they moved to San Jose, California. Houston was the first in her family to earn a college degree. She met James D. Houston while attending San Jose State University. They married in 1957 and have three children.

In 1971, a nephew who had been born at Manzanar asked Houston to tell him about what the camp had been like because his parents refused to talk about it. She broke down as she began to tell him, so she decided instead to write about the experience for him and their family. Together with her husband, Houston wrote Farewell to Manzanar. Published in 1972, the book is based on what her family went through before, during, and after the war. It has become a part of many school curricula to teach students about the Japanese American experience during WWII. It was made into a made-for-television movie in 1976 that won a Humanitas Prize and was nominated for an Emmy in the category of Outstanding Writing in a Drama.

Since Farewell to Manzanar, Houston has continued to write both with her husband and on her own. In 2003, her first novel, The Legend of Fire Horse Woman was published. She also provides lectures in both university and community settings. In 2006, Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston received the Award of Excellence for her contributions to society from the Japanese American National Museum. (November 25, 2006)

George Ariyoshi
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George Ariyoshi

Prom during the war

(b.1926) Democratic politician and three-term Governor of Hawai'i

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George Katsumi Yuzawa
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George Katsumi Yuzawa

Neighbors' sympathy after Pearl Harbor

(1915 - 2011) Nisei florist who resettled in New York City after WW II. Active in Japanese American civil rights movement

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Jean Hayashi Ariyoshi
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Jean Hayashi Ariyoshi

Day Pearl Harbor was bombed

Former First Lady of Hawai'i

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Kazuo Funai
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Kazuo Funai

Japan vs. the United States (Japanese)

(1900-2005) Issei businessman

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Masako Iino
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Masako Iino

Interest in Japanese migration studies (Japanese)

Tsuda College President, researcher of Nikkei history

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Henry Shimizu
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Henry Shimizu

Japanese Canadians get the right to vote in 1949

(b. 1928) Doctor. Former Chair of the Japanese Canadian Redress Foundation.

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James Hirabayashi
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James Hirabayashi

Life in camp as teenager

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

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Venancio Shinki
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Venancio Shinki

Memories of my infancy: Japanese 1, Japanese 2… (Spanish)

(b. 1932-2016) Peruvian painter

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Venancio Shinki
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Venancio Shinki

Mistreating the Japanese community (Spanish)

(b. 1932-2016) Peruvian painter

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Venancio Shinki
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Venancio Shinki

Prejudice in Japanese school (Spanish)

(b. 1932-2016) Peruvian painter

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Robert Katayama
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Robert Katayama

Being ordered to keep a diary that was later confiscated, ostensibly by the FBI

Hawaiian Nisei who served in World War II with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

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Barbara Kawakami
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Barbara Kawakami

Bombing of Pearl Harbor

An expert researcher and scholar on Japanese immigrant clothing.

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Barbara Kawakami
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Barbara Kawakami

Helping soldiers

An expert researcher and scholar on Japanese immigrant clothing.

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Mas Kodani
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Mas Kodani

Fun at concentration camp

Senshin Buddhist Temple minister and co-founder of Kinnara Taiko.

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Barbara Kawakami
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Barbara Kawakami

Okinawan discrimination

An expert researcher and scholar on Japanese immigrant clothing.

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