Nanka Nikkei Voices

Nanka Nikkei Voices (NNV) is a publication of the Japanese American Historical Society of Southern California. Nanka means “Southern California.” Nikkei means Japanese American(s).”  The focus of NNV is to record the stories of the Japanese American Community in Southern California through the “voices” of average Japanese Americans and others who have a strong connection to our history and cultural heritage.

This series introduce various stories from the past 4 issues of Nanka Nikkei Voices.

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The Okazaki-Kuida Resettlement

Both of my parents were young children when E.O. 9066 was signed. My mom, Machiko Okazaki, lived in four places from the ages of four to seven years old. Santa Anita Race Track. Heart Mountain, Wyoming. Crystal City, Texas. Seabrook Farms, New Jersey.

My grandfather, Masashi Bancho Okazaki, a Tenrikyo minister, had been separated from the family because of his occupation as a minister. He was reunited with my grandma and her five children in Crystal City in 1944. Their 9-year old daughter Sumi died in Crystal City of a brain tumor. In 1945, the family headed to the East …


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A Typical Story of Survival & Regrowth After the War

Takashi and Shizuko (nee: Mori) Kato and their two children, Roy Shigehisa and Ikuko, moved from Inglewood to West Los Angeles just prior to evacuation to Manzanar. They left everything behind with their lost nursery business; the property had been taken over by the U.S. Army apparently because of its proximity to LAX and used to encamp soldiers. That was their first experience with camouflage nets and guns surrounding them—and earned them a picture of their invasion of privacy in Life magazine.

In 1945, before the family left Manzanar, Takashi left camp to bring a truck from Los Angeles. (Note: …


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Coming Back Full Circle

When the war came to a close, many of our friends started to leave camp. My brother Yukio just seemed to disappear at the first call—he went to Chicago to make his fortune. He found a job in one of the finer hotels as a busboy and was making a very good salary since that hotel catered to the very wealthy. My brother Taketo left for Los Angeles to make up for lost time and wanted to make as much money as possible. The only secure independent job to be found was as a gardener. My sister Haruko, who was …


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Melodee, Malcolm, and Me

I spent my childhood years during the 1950s in the San Fernando Valley. My parents, like a number of other Nikkei families, were flower growers and we had a farm on which we grew carnations, chrysanthemums, anemones, asters, and other flowers. During the summers, I spent many hours working under the hot Valley sun, and I always became dark and tanned, just like my parents, my brothers, and all the hired help we had on the farm.

The elementary schools I attended were a mixture of predominantly white kids with a strong Hispanic representation. In 1955, I started attending Northridge …


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The Fugetsu-do Story

*Editor's Note: This article was written in 2004 and Fugetsu-do is currently celebrating its 112th anniversary.

My grandfather, Seiichi Kito, was born in Gifu, in Central Japan. He came to the United States in May 1903 and went to where other Japanese immigrants were – in the East First Street district of Los Angeles (now known as Little Tokyo). The Japanese population numbered 3,000 and, by November, my grandfather started producing sweets and opened Fugetsu-do with a couple of friends. As his business partners passed away, my grandfather found himself managing Fugetsu-do for the next 25 years.

Even on rainy …



Bill Watanabe boyle heights california camps clubs community eminent domain family food fortune cookie Fugetsu-do Gardena gardener George Kiriyama heart mountain identity JAHSSC japanese american Jenni Kuida little tokyo Los Angeles malcolm x manju mochi nanka nikkei voices