Tessaku was the name of a short-lived magazine published at the Tule Lake concentration camp during World War II. It also means “barbed wire.” This series brings to light stories of the Japanese American internment, illuminating those that haven’t been told with intimate and honest conversation. Tessaku brings the consequences of racial hysteria to the foreground, as we enter into a cultural and political era where lessons of the past must be remembered.

war en

Doug Matsuda - Part 1

“If I was my dad, I would’ve done the same thing. You’ve taken everything away from us, now you want us to fight for this stinkin’ country? No way.”

—Doug Matsuda

In the middle of a cold, January night in 1943 in the Arizona desert, eight young men ventured out between rows of barracks to convene in front of Block 215, room D. Carrying heavy wood clubs and donning handkerchiefs to mask their faces, they went over once more the details for the plan they were about to carry out. After jamming the neighbor’s barrack doors with pegs to keep …

Read more

war en

Leland Inaba - Part 4

Read part 3 >>

Now, jumping ahead to when the redress happened and the Civil Liberties Act was passed. What do you remember about receiving the apology or what was your reaction to getting the letter and then the redress?

I don't think I even read the letter.

You didn't read the letter?

I don't remember. I don't even remember receiving the money. I guess my parents probably put it in the bank for themselves. That was $20,000 per person that was interned. 

Were your parents still alive?

Oh yeah.

So your parents got the apology.

[Mark]: Well your dad …

Read more

war en

Leland Inaba - Part 3

Read Part 2 >>

And I meant to ask you before, was your mother working before you left for camp in Riverside? 

She was my dad's receptionist at his office because, you know, he couldn't really afford he was just building up his practice. And so she answered the phone, made appointments and stuff like that. So she went to work every day and we had a housekeeper or a maid look after us.

[Holly] If you're looking for vivid details, remember when we went to Manzanar you talked about the rations? They would give you so much butter that …

Read more

war en

Leland Inaba - Part 2

Read Part 1 >>

So do you remember your parents saying anything about this tension or the war that had broken out between the two countries?

No, they didn't talk about it. I think it was easier to handle hidden away or pushed to the background than to talk about it, you know because first of all, my dad was taken away right away because he was considered an alien. And so my mom had to take over everything else, including canceling all the appointments.

And we were fortunate that the land lady who owned the building where my dad …

Read more

war en

Leland Inaba - Part 1

“I think the main thing is that they had themselves had nothing to do with the problem between the two countries. There’s nothing you can do to promote or diminish it. It’s out of your hands. It’s almost like God’s will. What can we do?”

— Leland Inaba

Leland Inaba grew up on a farm in Riverside, California, a city nestled in the larger Southern California area known as the Inland Empire. Before the war, it was humming with Japanese American presence and community, as Issei and Nisei farmers borrowed and bought land to cultivate various crops. Leland’s uncle was …

Read more


camps chicken farm Crystal City dentist Doug Matsuda farmers FBI Frank Matsuda Kibei Lordsburg Manzanar New Mexico optometrist post-war Poston Riverside Saburo Kido Texas World War II