Bill Shishima


Bill Shishima, a docent at the Japanese American National Museum, was interned at Heart Mountain during World War II. This collection gives a brief look into his life featuring pictures from his own collection and pictures gathered from the National Archives Digital Collection which highlight important events in his life.

Slides in this album 

Maryknoll School

Teacher Brother Paul poses with his students at Maryknoll School. Bill Shishima, age 10, is standing second from the right.
At the time, the Maryknoll was a Catholic, predominantly Japanese school. Once a week, the school required students to take Japanese classes, but Bill's mother wanted him to learn …

Maryknoll school 1940
Contributed by: chowaa

Katsusuke Shishima Grocery Store

Katsusuke Shishima, Bill's father, owned a grocery store on Main Street in Los Angeles, California. Katsusuke was forced to sell his store after May 3, 1942, when his family was given a week's notice to report to Union Church. In this 1931 photo, Bill is standing with the store employee, …

Katsusuke Shishima's Grocery Store, 1931
Contributed by: chowaa

Guards at Santa Anita Assembly Center

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, Japanese Americans were relocated to temporary assembly centers before heading to the interment camps across the nation.

Photo courtesy of National Archive Digital Collection

Santa Anita Guards- National Archive Item
Contributed by: team-nikkei-usa

Children playing ping pong at Santa Anita

One of the many activities children played in Santa Anita Assembly Center.

Photo courtesy of National Archive Digital Collection.

Santa Anita Ping Pong- National Archive Item
Contributed by: team-nikkei-usa

Heart Mountain Relocation Center

The Heart Mountain Relocation Center, named after nearby Heart Mountain Butte, was one of ten internment camps used to incarcerate Japanese Americans excluded from the West Coast during World War II under the provisions of Executive Order 9066 signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Heart Mountain Relocation Center is …

Heart Mountain-National Archive Item
Contributed by: team-nikkei-usa

Heart Mountain Video

See a video clip of the camp barracks and landscape around Heart Mountain.

The Lloyd Evans Collection contains color silent amateur footage of activities at Heart Mountain concentration camp, Wyoming, filmed by Reverend Stanley T. Evans, who visited Rev. Donald Toriumi at Heart Mountain in 1945.

Camp buildings at Heart Mountain (Evans_04)
Contributed by: HNRC

Shishima Family at Heart Mountain, Wyoming

The Shishima Family is standing in front of a barrack at Heart Mountain Interment Camp. This photo was taken in 1944, when Bill Shishima was 14 years old.

Photo courtesy of Bill Shishima

Shishima Family at Heart Mountain, Wyoming
Contributed by: chowaa

Heart Mountain boy scouts

Pictured here from left to right: Jake Ohara, Tak Motoyasu, Eddie Kato

All of whom were members of the Koyasan Boy Scouts Troop 379. The Boy Scouts pictured here are saluting the raising of the American Flag for a service project for Heart Mountain Camp.

One of Bill's greatest …

Heart Mountain Boy Scouts-National Archive Item
Contributed by: team-nikkei-usa

Heart Mountain Internees' farewell

Pictured here are internees waving goodbye to their friends and neighbors before departing from Heart Mountain.

In January 1945, the Shishima family was given permission to leave the camp. In August, after the war ended, Bill, his father, and his older brother went back to Los Angeles to look for …

Heart Mountain Train- National Archive Item
Contributed by: team-nikkei-usa

Scouting After the War

After returning to Los Angeles, Bill joined the Koyasan Boy Scout troop when it reformed in 1946. After his time in the Army, Bill returned to scouting again, this time as a troop leader.

Here, Bill and his son Marc's troop from Evergreen Church pose for a photo at Camp …

Camp Bighorn 1971
Contributed by: chowaa

Field Day At Maryknoll

In 1970, the troop participated in field day activities at Marknoll, where Bill attended school before the war.

Photo courtesy of Bill Shishima

First annual Maryknoll Field Day, 1970
Contributed by: chowaa

Bill and Kiyo

Bill was involved in training other adults to be Scout Masters. Here, he and Kiyo pose outside the "Staff Tent" on one of the training trips.

Photo courtesy of Bill Shishima

Staff Tent, Firestone Boy Scout Camp, 1973
Contributed by: chowaa

Bill and Marc

Bill encouraged his son, Marc, to become involved in scouting. Here they are together on a Lake Tahoe hike in preparation for a 50 mile hike later in the year.

Photo courtesy of Bill Shishima

Bill Shishima and Marc Shishima
Contributed by: chowaa


Bill (right) after winning a knot-tying competition. Bill says that scouting skills, such as knot-tying, still come in handy.

Photo courtesy of Bill Shishima

Bill Shishima Wins Knot Tying Competition
Contributed by: chowaa


In over forty years of leadership in various troops in Los Angeles, Bill has won many awards, including the District Award of Merit and the Silver Beaver Award from the Boy Scout Council.

Here, he receives the award of merit in 1973.

Photo courtesy of Bill Shishima.

Bill Shishima, BSA Los Angeles Council Award Recipient
Contributed by: chowaa

Winter at Heart Mountain

Located in northern Wyoming, Heart Mountain had severe winters. Internees, especially Bill Shishima, were grateful to be given heavy wool pea coats for the weather conditions.
Here, internees can be seen abandoning heavy winter boots for ice skates.

Photo courtesy of National Archive Digital Collection

Heart Mountain Winter- National Archive Item
Contributed by: editor

Santa Anita Assembly Center

Some of the internees, such as Bill's grandparents, where housed in makeshift quarters in stables and stalls at the Santa Anita race track.

Photo courtesy of National Archive Digital Collection.

Santa Anita Stall - National Archive Item
Contributed by: editor

Grandstand at Santa Anita Assembly Center

Before heading off to Heart Mountain, Wyoming, the Shishima family was relocated to the Santa Anita Racetrack in Arcadia, California.
School was conducted on the Grandstand, located where the man is standing in the picture. While in class, Bill Shishima remembers he was often distracted; nearby, there was a camouflage factory …

Santa Anita- National Archive Item
Contributed by: editor

Little Tokyo walking tours

Little Tokyo Historical Society Walking Tour on September 16, 2006, led by Bill Shishima. Bill leads regular walking tours of Little Tokyo in Los Angeles for the Japanese American National Museum. For a schedule, check their website: To contact the Little Tokyo Historical Society, email
Photo courtesy …

LTHS Walking Tour: Bill Shishima and Deanna Matsumoto
Contributed by: lthistory

Album Type

family history

chowaa — Last modified Jun 28 2021 1:49 a.m.

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