Enduring Communities

Enduring Communities: The Japanese American Experience in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah is an ambitious three-year project dedicated to re-examining an often-neglected chapter in U.S. history and connecting it with current issues of today. These articles stem from that project and detail the Japanese American experiences from different perspectives. 

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Four Hirabayashi Cousins: A Question of Identity - Part 5 of 5

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Henry (Hank) Nobuo Hirabayashi

Hank Nobuo Hirabayashi was born in Seattle on April 29, 1923. His father, Hamao, appears in many early photographs taken during the first decade of the 1900s with his bachelor cousins and friends. He was one of the earliest to emigrate and urged his cousins to join him. The families were to maintain close relationships throughout the pre-war years. Beginning in a day job in a hotel in Tacoma, Hamao saved his money and eventually opened the Belltown Grocery in Seattle:

We were about a half-mile directly north of the Pike Place Market …

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Little Tokyo’s Bronze Age

The Bronzeville era of Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo lasted about three short years during World War II. But before I talk about Bronzeville, it should be noted that African Americans occupied the area that we now call Little Tokyo more than 100 years ago. To illustrate this point, the modern Pentecostal movement, which was started by Rev. William J. Seymour, an African American minister from Texas, had its beginning in 1906 in an abandoned warehouse on Azusa Street in the area we now call Little Tokyo because back in the early 1900s, this area was considered an African American district. …

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Four Hirabayashi Cousins: A Question of Identity - Part 4 of 5

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Robert (Bob) Taro Mizukami

Bob Taro Mizukami was born in 1922 in Star Lake in the hills above Kent, Washington. His mother, Isami, was the youngest sister of Gordon’s father, Shungo, and attended the academy Kensei Gijuku, before emigrating to America. Gordon’s mother, Mitsu, served as an informal “go-between” in his parents’ betrothal. Raised during the Depression, it seemed to Bob that the family was moving almost once a year. The Mizukamis lived and farmed in Thomas right next to cousin Gordon’s farm before moving back to Renton. He and Gordon’s younger brother, Ed, were best friends …

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Exodus -- Clovis, New Mexico

Sunday December 7, 1941, started out as a nice day. The sunlight was streaming through the bedroom window; I didn’t want to get up and go to Sunday school. I suppose it was close to 10:00 a.m. when my father startled everyone by shouting with excitement to my mother. Father always tuned in Radio Hawaii every Sunday a.m. on his shortwave Philco radio. We all rushed to the living room to see what the commotion was all about. He said that Japanese warplanes were attacking Pearl Harbor at this very moment. I did not understand or comprehend the significance of …

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Four Hirabayashi Cousins: A Question of Identity - Part 3 of 5

Part 2 >>

Gordon Kiyoshi Hirabayashi

Gordon Kiyoshi Hirabayashi’s father, Shungo, together with Grant’s father, Toshiharu, formed the core of the Thomas Mukyokai fellowship. Gordon was born in 1918 in Seattle, but his earliest memories are of living on the farm in Thomas, Washington, next door to his cousin Grant. The family moved to Seattle one winter to escape from the hard farm life, but returned to try farming again at the urging of the Mukyokai group. Gordon’s mother, Mitsu, was concerned over disciplinary problems because young Gordon was picking up bad habits on the streets of Seattle near the …

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african american Bronzeville california Cleveland Clovis exclusion order gordon hirabayashi identity little tokyo Los Angeles New Mexico org:janm Quaker Topaz World War II