Tessaku

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.

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Doug Matsuda - Part 2

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When did your dad start sharing what happened in camp?

I would ask him every once in a while and he would tell me little things. He’d say, “You know the first week we were there we had to make our own meals. Nothing was set up yet so we had to eat outside. So one day we were all ready to eat, everything was all set and the food was cooked and everything, and this big dust storm came and just covered everything. We had to start all over again.” I [also] asked him about …

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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 …

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Leland Inaba - Part 4

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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 …

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Leland Inaba - Part 3

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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 …

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Leland Inaba - Part 2

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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 …

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