Gary T. Ono

Gary T. Ono, is a Sansei transplant from San Francisco, California who now resides in the Little Tokyo area of Los Angeles. He is a volunteer photographer for the nearby Japanese American National Museum. In 2001, he was awarded a California Civil Liberties Public Education Program grant to produce a video documentary, Calling Tokyo: Japanese American Radio Broadcasters of World War II. This story about what his father did during the war sparked his interest in his Japanese American and family history, which richly fills his senior moments.

Updated May 2013

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The 2018 Tule Lake Pilgrimage: Connecting Across Generations

Perspective and Thoughts on the 2018 Tule Lake Pilgrimage

I have never attended a Tule Lake Pilgrimage, however, I was incarcerated at Amache, one of the other ten U.S. concentration camps of WWII. So, Amache was my primary focus of interest. As early as 1994, I attended an Amache Reunion in Las Vegas. Since 2008, I have volunteered with the Denver University Anthropology Department's Summer graduates study and Archaeological Field Survey of the Amache site, led by Dr. Bonnie Clark. She accepted volunteers inviting former internees and family members. My grandson Dante Hilton-Ono and I volunteered in 2008 and in 2014, my grandson Chava Valdez-Ono I volunteered.

Because …

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Separation Anxiety: Former and Current Events Parallel

Tears moisten my eyes as I watch and listen to the 24/7 news coverage of the Zero Tolerance enforcement of President Trump's immigration policy. Frequently referred to as “compassionless,” Trump’s policy, ill-designed to deter asylum seeking immigrants from Central America, ‘punishes’ them by separating them from their children! The realization that some of these children might not ever see their parents again is emotionally draining and galling! Even if they are eventually reunited, the immediate negative emotional impact will handicap their confidence and self-esteem for the rest of their lives.

Welcome to America, a country of immigrants! And, before immigration, …

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More “Made in Camp” Samurai Swords Discovered

The Samurai Spirit

In my 2015 Discover Nikkei essay, “Samurai Spirit in WWII Camps,” I put forth my belief that gaman—a Japanese term of Zen Buddhist origin that means “enduring the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity”—surely must have burned especially bright in the hearts and minds of the Issei. Gaman was also characteristic of the temperament of the samurai, whose spirit I believe led to the making of swords in camp. My earlier essay discussed two handcrafted swords. Now, more swords are being discovered.

In facing American racism, gaman was necessary for self-preservation. The Issei were …

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Samurai Spirit In WWII Camps

As a volunteer at the Japanese American National Museum (JANM), recent developments there revealed that hidden Samurai spirits nestled in the minds and bodies of some of those imprisoned in the US concentration camps that held America’s Japanese prisoners for the duration of World War II. As you will shortly see, that speaks for Tokuichi Muro, a concentration camp inmate shown with his wife, Koito (Funai) Muro, interned in Amache, the War Relocation Authority Center (camp) near Granada, Colorado.

I think, like the Samurai described in Stephen Turnbull’s, The Book of the Samurai: The Warrior Class of Japan, Tokuichi …

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Nikkei Chronicles #3—Nikkei Names: Taro, John, Juan, João?

You Can Call Me Ben

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” (Shakespeare; Romeo and Juliet) William pretty much sums it up for me as far as names go, but it is interesting to learn about how names are determined by different times and cultures.

In Japan, middle names were not used, but in the turn-of-the-century America, Japanese pioneer immigrants, Issei, in most cases gave their Nisei children, second generation Japanese in America, Japanese middle names as well as American names. American names were given in order to ease assimilation into …

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