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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)

Takayo Fischer
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Takayo Fischer

Being Confused about Racial Identity in Postwar United States

(b. 1932) Nisei American stage, film, and TV actress

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Mitsuye Yamada
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Mitsuye Yamada

Her brother’s reasons as a No-No Boy

(b. 1923) Japanese American poet, activist

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Holly J. Fujie
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Holly J. Fujie

Her grandfather was pressured to teach Japanese

Sansei judge on the Superior Court of Los Angeles County in California

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Holly J. Fujie
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Holly J. Fujie

Neighbor took care of her mother after grandfather was taken by FBI

Sansei judge on the Superior Court of Los Angeles County in California

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Howard Kakita
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Howard Kakita

Immediately after the bombing

(b. 1938) Japanese American. Hiroshima atomic bomb survivor

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Howard Kakita
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Howard Kakita

Other family members not as lucky

(b. 1938) Japanese American. Hiroshima atomic bomb survivor

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Howard Kakita
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Howard Kakita

His parents had little hope that he had survived the atomic bomb

(b. 1938) Japanese American. Hiroshima atomic bomb survivor

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Howard Kakita
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Howard Kakita

His views on nuclear weapons

(b. 1938) Japanese American. Hiroshima atomic bomb survivor

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Iwao Takamoto
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Iwao Takamoto

Loss When Leaving for Manzanar

Japanese American animator for Walt Disney and Hanna Barbera (1925-2007)

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Jimmy Naganuma
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Jimmy Naganuma

Forcibly deported to the U.S. from Peru

(b. 1936) Japanese Peruvian incarcerated in Crystal City

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Monica Teisher
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Monica Teisher

Stories of Grandfather at a concentration camp in Fusagasuga

(b.1974) Japanese Colombian who currently resides in the United States

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Monica Teisher
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Monica Teisher

Her grandfather in a concentration camp in Fusagasuga (Spanish)

(b.1974) Japanese Colombian who currently resides in the United States

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Jimmy Naganuma
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Jimmy Naganuma

Family welcomed at Crystal City

(b. 1936) Japanese Peruvian incarcerated in Crystal City

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Jimmy Naganuma
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Jimmy Naganuma

First meal at Crystal City

(b. 1936) Japanese Peruvian incarcerated in Crystal City

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Kazumu Naganuma
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Kazumu Naganuma

His sister Kiyo was like a second mother to him

(b. 1942) Japanese Peruvian incarcerated in Crystal City

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