Sunday, September 30, 2012

Eric Muller: Colors of Confinement - Book Talk @ UMass Boston

If you don't know about the Japanese American incarceration during WWII, you may find my introductory post helpful.

Last Friday I went to UMass Boston to attend a talk given by Professor Eric Muller, editor of Colors of Confinement: Rare Kodachrome Photographs of Japanese American Incarceration in WWII which contains photographs by Japanese American internee, Bill Manbo. The talk was co-sponsored by the Institute for Asian American Studies (IAAS) and the New England Japanese American Citizens League.

I was surprised to find out about the IAAS. Although I've lived in Boston for years, I had no idea it existed. It was founded in 1993. They recently completed an interesting project called From Confinement to College: Video Oral Histories of Japanese American Students During WWI which "record[ed] first-hand accounts from Japanese Americans who were able to leave assembly centers and internment camps to attend college through the help of individuals or organization."


Prof. Paul Watanabe, IAAS Director, introduces Prof. Eric Muller

Bill Manbo and his family were incarcerated at the misleadingly named Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming. [Note: President Roosevelt referred to Heart Mountain and the other 9 major camps as "concentration camps." Source: Eric's talk & Children of the Camps. It's only been in modern times that "concentration camp" has come to refer almost exclusively to the Nazi extermination camps. Some Japanese Americans think we should use concentration camp.] While there, he bought a camera -- something he would have done via a mail order catalog such as Sears Roebuck or Montgomery Ward -- and documented daily life. This was the first time I'd ever seen color photos of the incarceration and I don't really have the words to express how powerful they are. Scroll down for links to articles with photos.

For the photography geeks - the photos were actually slides and were taken with Kodachrome film. Eric said it was 6 years old in 1943, although Wikipedia indicates it would have been 8 years old. The slides were well preserved because they lived in Bill Manbo's closet for many years and then later his son's closet before being brought to Eric's attention by Bacon Sakatani, who was interned at Heart Mountain with the Manbos. Sixty-five of the 180 images made it into the book. Eric described the slides as having "barely seen the light of day" and said their disuse kept them beautiful.

You might be wondering how Bill could afford a camera and film. Being a US citizen, he would have had access to any funds he had put in his bank account prior to his incarceration and he also would have earned a government salary for working at the camp. Internees were paid $12/month for unskilled labor, $16/month for semi-skilled labor, and $19/month for skilled labor. [Source: Eric's talk & Japanese Americans at Manzanar] Heart Mountain was more or less run by the internees. At its peak, it was the third largest city in Wyoming after Casper and Cheyenne.

You also might be wondering how Bill Manbo was allowed to have a camera, which were originally contraband at all camps. Eric addressed this in his talk, but his answer from the UNC Press interview is more thorough so I'll quote from that. "Cameras remained contraband at the camps located within the military district called the Western Defense Command. But Wyoming was outside that zone, and by the spring of 1943, cameras were permitted. The WRA recognized that allowing internees to take pictures was a way of helping them reclaim some sense of a normal life and some of their dignity. "


Eric shows us a black & white picture from the National Archives taken at Granada.

Unfortunately, Bill passed away in 1992, long before this book project got started, and like many other older Japanese who were incarcerated, he didn't talk with his family about the experience. Eric told us that little is known about Bill Manbo's personality. He described Bill's son, Bill, (Billy when he was a boy), as a man of few words. Bill (senior) must have had a sense of humor - Eric mentioned that he had a French alter-ego, "Pierre Manbeaux." (You can see Manbeaux written on the porch he built on his family's barracks on p. 40.) My initial thought upon hearing this, was that he probably longed to be something other than Japanese. During WWII, Chinese people used to wear & post signs telling white people that they weren't Japanese, but rather Chinese. My Okinawan relatives were very proud of the fact that they weren't Japanese.

Something Eric said that I found particularly interesting was that in most Japanese American family albums there are pages missing for the incarceration years. Although Bill's photos were very personal to him, they really could have been taken at any camp and Eric sees them as representative of the missing pages in all Japanese American family albums.  Most of Bill's photos are of his family and daily activities -- everything from Bon Odori and sumo to baseball and the Boy Scouts. Billy was a favorite subject and he's so cute and photogenic. Some of the images are so "normal" you wouldn't have any idea they were taken in a prison camp. But then, there are pictures like the one of the guard tower (one of 16 guard towers at Heart Mountain) on p. 45. It's similar to this photo. Eric says you can't mistake it for anything other than a photo about "surveillance and confinement." Then there's the photo from the back cover of Billy hanging on one of the barbed wire fences and the photo on p. 37 in which Billy looks utterly lost in the landscape with Heart Mountain looming in the background as he walks down a lonely road with the barracks and piles of coal to his left. It's clear that Bill was painfully aware of his and Billy's confinement. Eric commented "I don't take portraits of my kids like this." [Note on the fence photo: There were concentric circles of fences around the camp. When they first arrived, the fence that Billy is hanging on was the outer boundary of the camp, but in later years they eased restrictions and allowed internees to be in the outer ring during the day time, so Bill wasn't breaking the law when he took that photo.]

One of the most infuriating (to me and I'm sure many other Japanese Americans) things that happened during the incarceration was the administration of what's come to be known as The Loyalty Questionnaire (it was actually called DSS Form 304-A Statement of United States Citizen of Japanese Ancestry). All incarcerated Japanese Americans had to fill out this questionnaire to prove their "loyalty" to the United States. Those deemed "disloyal" were packed off to Tule Lake where they shipped out the loyal and rounded up the disloyal. Bill and his wife, Mary, apparently had too many questionable answers so they were sent for hearings, although ultimately deemed "loyal." Eric located their questionnaires in the Archives and shared some of their answers with us. He said their anger practically leapt off the page.

Some of Bill's answers:

8. Citizenship of wife American?

28. Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States of America and faithfully defend the United States from any or all attack by foreign or domestic forces, and forswear any form of allegiance or obedience to the Japanese emperor , or any other foreign government, power or organization?  If we get all our rights back   [Note that this is clearly meant as a yes or no question, the line provided for your answer is very short. Eric mentioned that Bill's answers were off in the margins in some places.]

Some of Mary's answers:

8. Citizenship of husband US at present but I'm doubtful of it  Race of husband Japanese, no fault of our own

28. Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States of America and faithfully defend the United States from any or all attack by foreign or domestic forces, and forswear any form of allegiance or obedience to the Japanese emperor , or any other foreign government, power or organization? Yes, I'm a born citizen



Eric's talk was excellent and he was pleased with the turnout for a Friday afternoon. Lectures can be boring, even when the subject matter is compelling, if the lecturer just shows you a PowerPoint presentation and rattles off some fact and figures. Eric engaged the audience - asking us questions about what the images brought to mind and then providing background.

Colors of Confinement is not Eric's first book on the incarceration. He wrote two other books: Free to Die for their Country: The Story of the Japanese American Draft Resisters of World War II and American Inquisition: The Hunt for Japanese American Disloyalty in World War II".

When I first read about Colors of Confinement and found out Eric has published other books about the incarceration I was wondering how a Caucasian law professor from North Carolina ends up researching the Japanese American incarceration. He said during the Q&A that he had a personal interest in American concentration camps because his grandfather was taken to Buchenwald. When I talked to him afterwards, he further explained that his first teaching job was actually at the University of Wyoming College of Law. He learned about Heart Mountain so he could bring it into the classroom.

Only some of the 65 photos from the book are available online. I highly recommend perusing a copy at your library or a bookstore if you can't afford the book. List is $35 although it's currently $23.10 at Amazon.

On a completely unrelated note, when I was flipping through the book and saw photos of the Boy Scouts, I found it really interesting that the Boy Scouts had the sense to allow Japanese American members at a time when we were considered so dangerous we had to be locked up, but they don't have the sense to allow LGBT members today (or athiests and agnostics for that matter).

More photos from Eric's talk.

Press on the book:
New York Times: Injustice, in Kodachrome - Slideshow
NPR: A Dark Chapter Of American History Captured In 'Colors'
UNC Press Blog: Interview: Eric L. Muller on new images of Japanese American internment in
World War II
Daily Mail: A secret diary of life inside America's WWII internment camps: Poignant photos show how Japanese-Americans ripped from their homes coped with confinement in California

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Tewassa at Huron Village Block Party




Tewassa occasionally goes to events such as the Haru Matsui where I first came across the group and the Black Ships Festival in Newport, Rhode Island. This Saturday, the event is coming to us! Huron Village has an annual block party and all the local businesses participate. Since we hold our meetings at GrayMist in Huron Village, we'll be there selling t-shirts and other items to raise money. The Huron Village Block Party will be this Saturday, 9/29/12, (no rain date) from 12-4pm on Gurney St. and in front of stores on Huron Ave. Come check us out!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Japanese American Incarceration During WWII

Note: After hearing Wendy Maruyama speak, I've decided to follow Densho's terminology convention for the Japanese American incarceration during WWII. I had been taught to refer to it at the "Japanese American internment".



Imagine that one day you hear someone hammering on the outside of your home. You open the door to find a member of the United States armed forces hammering a notice onto your home. It seems the president recently signed an executive order allowing the military declare the area you live in a "military area" and relocate you. To where? He doesn't know. For how long? He doesn't know that either. You're allowed only one bag each so it can't be that long can it? Can you refuse to leave? Absolutely not. You have 48 hours to pack and report to your local train station. What about your dog and cat? Don't be ridiculous, of course they can't come!

So, why are you being relocated? Because the United States is at war with the country your grandparents are from - the country of Atlantis. Are you Atlantish? No. You're an American citizen. Do you speak Atlantish? Barely. You can understand some of what your older relatives say when they speak Atlantish but you always roll your eyes and tell them to speak English. Have you ever visited Atlantis? No.

Suddenly, your neighbors come bounding up your stairs, cash in hand. They offer to buy your $3,000 flat screen for $20. You can't take your 2 year old car. They offer you $100 for it. That $1,000 sofa set? They'll give you $50 for that. WTF?

Sound insane? This is what tens of thousands of Japanese Americans were experiencing beginning on February 25, 1942, six days after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 authorizing the Secretary of War, "to prescribe military areas in such places and of such extent as he or the appropriate Military Commander may determine, from which any or all persons may be excluded, and with respect to which, the right of any person to enter, remain in, or leave shall be subject to whatever restrictions the Secretary of War or the appropriate Military Commander may impose in his discretion."

E.O. 9066 resulted in General John L. DeWitt, commander of the Western Defense Command, issuing Civilian Exclusion Orders, so he could cart off people of Japanese ancestry, both citizens and non-citizens alike. More than 60% of the Japanese incarcerated by these orders were American citizens.

Japanese people being rounded up to be sent off to camp.

Are you thinking, "Oh, that would never happen today,"? One of my favorite quotes ever was written in 1905 by philosopher George Santayana.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." 
I heard it as a child and it's stayed with me. Unfortunately, even when people remember, some people think the incarceration was a great idea. Conservative commentator, Michelle Malkin (who is Asian American, by the way), wrote a book in favor of internment in 2004.

Apparently they sell it at the Manzanar bookstore. At Eric Muller's talk, Paul Watanabe, director of the IAAS, told us an anecdote he heard from a student who is currently on an archeological dig at Manzanar. Someone came into the bookstore, purchased Ms. Malkin's book, and proceeded to tear it up at the register. We all laughed, but clearly this person was angry about the book, and the book is no laughing matter.

Some people think it's absolutely logical that we locked up people of Japanese ancestry. We were at war! My favorite little discussed fact about the Japanese during WWII is that:
"In fact, during World War II, no Japanese American in the U.S., Hawaii or Alaska, citizen or immigrant, was ever convicted of espionage or sabotage."
Source: Sites of Shame: Background - Mass removal of U.S. citizens.
Something else that isn't discussed much is that the vast majority of Hawaii's Japanese population wasn't locked up. In 1942 Hawaii was still a territory, not a state, but E.O. 9066 still applied to Hawaii. Using the "logic" that the Japanese people were a threat to national security, all Hawaiian Japanese should have also been locked up.
Yet only about 1% of Hawaii's Japanese population was incarcerated. Many were sent to mainland camps but some were held in Hawaii (a fact missing from many history books. I grew up thinking there were no camps in Hawaii and didn't learn about them until recently). According to my relatives they took only the educated, wealthy, community leaders. Basically anyone with any influence. Why? My mom told me it was due to economic interests - imagine if you locked up that much of the workforce. So many of the Japanese were laborers on the plantations. Even with the other nationalities they wouldn't have been able to harvest all the crops. It would have affected Hawaii's entire economy. General Delos Emmons, the commanding general of the Hawaiian Department, resisted all calls for a wholesale incarceration of Hawaii's Japanese population. It seems he may have been a far more open and fair-minded man than General DeWitt, but he also had to have been aware of the economic realities.

So, why were the mainland Japanese and Japanese Americans locked up? Last week I came across this paper suggesting that the mainland incarceration was driven by the labor unions. The Japanese were successful farmers all up and down the West Coast which upset a number of white people. There were groups working against the Japanese before, during, and after the war to limit their ability to own property, and keep them from living in/returning to their areas. It seems clear to me that the mainland incarceration was driven by racism.

Last weekend I attended 2 talks and an art exhibit about the Japanese American incarceration during WWII. I'll write about them in the next two posts.

Eric Muller: Colors of Confinement - Book Talk @ UMass Boston
Wendy Maruyama: Executive Order 9066 - Artist Talk & Exhibit @ SAC

For further reading, please visit Densho.

For information about the incarceration in 日本語, please visit the Hirasaki National Resource Center Materials List.

11/18/15: I have been remiss in failing to note that Japanese and Japanese Americans were not the only ones to be incarcerated during the war because of their ancestry. These incarcerations were not as widespread as the Japanese and Japanese American incarceration but the numbers were not insignificant. While German Americans and Italian Americans seem to have been the most common groups to be incarcerated, the Honouliuli Internment Camp on Oahu is said to have held other Europeans as well: "Italian, Irish, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish and Finnish ancestry; most arrested and detained as “Germans,” despite their U.S. citizenship and their non-German ancestry".

Please see:

Saturday, September 15, 2012

More yakitori coming to Boston

Update 11/7/12: The name of the new restaurant is Ittoku.
Update 11/11/13: Ittoku is finally open! See First Look: Ittoku!

José Garcia, owner of Ebi Sushi, told me a few weeks ago that one of his sushi chefs, Chiki-san, and his brother, Carlos (owner of Café Mami) were planning to open a yakitori restaurant in Brighton soon.

I caught up with Chiki-san today and he filled me on some of the details. The new restaurant is a joint venture between him, Carlos, and 2 people Manabu Ito and Taiji Mineo of Sapporo Ramen in Porter Square. It will seat 100! They plan to serve yakitori, ramen, sushi, and izakaya-style dishes. I forgot to ask if they'll be serving the same ramen as Sapporo or developing new recipes. I'm told they will serve the same ramen as Sapporo. I suspect the yakitori will be cheaper than Yakitori Zai. Chiki-san said they hope to open in January 2013. No name yet, but I will post as soon as they announce it.

I was going to post the location of the restaurant, but they haven't signed the lease yet and I see that there seems to be a restaurant that is still operating in that space. Presumably the landlord has told the previous tenant that they are planning to rent to someone else, but I don't want to cause any trouble. Can't find any rumors about the restaurant closing. Will post the location after I confirm with Chiki-san that it's okay.

Friday, September 14, 2012

YumeWoKatare is the new ramen restaurant in Porter Sq.

for more information.



In July I wrote about a new ramen shop taking over the space formerly occupied by ZING! Pizza. Last month they put up a sign saying they were going to open in September. I went by today to see how they were progressing. They finally took down the ZING! sign and put up a sign for YumeWoKatare, a Japanese ramen chain. There's still a sign in the window saying "Sept" but looking inside it looks like they have a long way to go before they can open. They started painting (there's kanji on the ceiling too), but the kitchen area doesn't look at all serviceable yet. 




No one was working on the space when I went by. I'll be surprised if they manage to open this month. Eater has been talking with the owner, Tsuyoshi Nishioka.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Directory of Greater Boston Japanese Healthcare Providers

This post is a work in progress. Am I missing something? Let me know at keiko dot in dot boston [at] gmail dot com!

Disclaimer: This directory is provided for informational purposes. I cannot vouch for the professionalism or expertise of these healthcare providers. Always research your healthcare provider's professional history.

Japanese Doctors | Japanese Dentists | Japanese Mental Health Professionals | Japanese Acupuncturists


Japanese Doctors

[Last updated: August 2013]

Dr. Mayumi Chantani-Hinze, MD - Family Medicine | Salem, NH

Dr. George Hayao, MD - Internal Medicine | Boston, MA & Lowell, MA 

Dr. Masahisa Hijikata, MD - Urology | Lynn, MA

Dr. Tatsuo Hirose, MD - Opthamology | Brookline, MA

Dr. Sadamu Ishikawa, MD - Internal Medicine | Brighton, MA

Dr. Tatsuo Kawai, MD, PhD - Transplant Surgeon | Boston, MA

Dr. Hideo Makimura, MD, PhD - Internal Medicine & Endocrinology | Boston, MA

Dr. Yuko McColgan, MD - Family Medicine | Brookline, MA

Dr. Shizuo Mukai, MD - Opthamology | Boston, MA

Dr. Kyoko Okamura, MD, MPH - Obstetrics/Gynecology | Brookline, MA
According to Dr. Okamura's website, she has an RN who conducts childbirth and lactation support classes in Japanese.

Dr. Nao Sakurai, MD - Family Practice | Holyoke, MA

Dr. Naomi Shimizu, MD - Surgery, Trauma & Burns | Boston, MA

Dr. Masanori Takeoka, MD - Child Neurology | Boston, MA

Japanese Dentists

[Last updated: September 2013]

Dr. Hiroshi Hinenoya, DDS | Boston, MA - Financial District

Dr. Kikuko Hirayama, DMD - Pediatric Dentistry | Boston, MA - Back Bay | Yelp

Dr. Taketo Kaneyoshi, DMD | Gardner, MA

Dr. Ritsuko Mizoguchi, DMD, DDS | Location unclear - possibly Randolph, MA & Dedham, MA

Dr. Kayoko Obara, DMD, DDS | Brookline, MA

Dr. Yuko Torigoe, DMD | Chestnut Hill, MA

Yamamoto & Associates - General Dentistry and Periodontics | Newton, MA | Yelp
I'm told that Drs. Hideo Yamamoto, DMD & Satomi Samantha Yamamoto, DMD, DDS are a husband and wife team.

Japanese Mental Health Professionals

[Last updated: September 2013]

Your insurance company may have a list of Japanese-speaking mental health providers. Even if a mental health provider is not listed with your insurance company, it may be possible for them to sign up to work with you under a "single case agreement." Ask the provider if they are willing to fill out this paperwork. Your insurance company might approve a provider either because they don't have any or many Japanese-speaking providers or even if you need a Japanese provider for cultural reasons.

Dr. Yoshiharu Akabane, MD - Psychiatry | Lynn, MA

Dr. Kumiko Ide, PhD, LMFT, | Cambridge, MA | Psychology Today

Yuki Kawaguchi, LMFT, LMHC | Cambridge, MA & Northampton, MA | Psychology Today

Akané Kominami, LCSW | Boston, MA
Works with LGBTQ youth.

Dr. Helen Kyomen, MD - Psychiatry | Location unclear - possibly Salem, MA or Belmont, MA

Naoko Metz, MA, LMHC | Boston, MA

Fusako I. Page, LICSW, ACSW | Malden, MA & Lynn, MA | Psychology Today

Dr. Sumio Shinohara, PhD, PsyD | Boston, MA | Thrive Boston Counseling

Kazuko Takeuchi, PsyD | Location unclear - possibly Beverly, MA or Northampton, MA


JB Line (Japanese Bostonians Support Line)
While this is not a substitute for professional help, if you need someone to talk to immediately, you can call JB Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Although their website is entirely in Japanese, they say they provide phone support in English as well. 

Japanese Acupuncturists

[Last updated: September 2012]

Kenji Fukunaga, Lic. Ac. | Portsmouth, NH & Exeter, NH

Kiiko Matsumoto, Lic. Ac. | Newton Highlands, MA | Yelp

Tamie Taniguchi Bilazzo, Lic. Ac., MAOM | Lexington, MA | Yelp

Chiaki Tomii, Lic. Ac. | Burlington, MA & Woburn, MA

Monday, September 10, 2012

Fall 2012 Japanese American Internment Events in Boston

I checked out JACL New England's September newsletter and was surprised to see there are a lot of internment-related events in Boston this month. I often feel like there are no Japanese American educational and cultural activities in Boston, but it seems you just have to look for them.

The Society of Arts & Crafts Gallery is displaying an exhibit of Wendy Maruyama's work titled Executive Order 9066, after the order that FDR signed which imprisoned Japanese and Japanese Americans during WWII. Ms. Maruyama is a sansei artist and furniture maker based on San Diego. The Genki Spark, an all Asian, all female taiko troupe, will be performing at a fundraising dinner.

Exhibit: 9/8/12 - 11/3/12 at SAC Gallery, 175 Newbury St., Boston, MA.

Reception: Friday, 9/21/12, 6-8PM, SAC Gallery, 175 Newbury St., Boston, MA, Free.

Dinner & Taiko Drum Performance: Friday, 9/21/12, 8-10PM, Old South Church, 645 Boylston St., Boston, MA, $100 per person, $90 SAC members.

Artist Lecture & Book Signing: Saturday 9/22/12, 11AM, Old South Church, 645 Boylston St., Boston, MA, Free, Book Signing after lecture at SAC Gallery, 175 Newbury St., Boston, MA.



Professor Eric Muller of the University of North Carolina School of Law is giving a talk at the UMass Boston Institute for Asian American Studies on his book, Colors of Confinement: Rare Kodachrome Photographs of Japanese American Incarceration in WWII. There's a good NPR piece about the book. More photos in this Daily Mail article.

Lecture: Friday, 9/21/12, 1PM, UMass Boston, Wheatley Hall, 2nd floor, Room 200, Boston, MA, Free.

I was surprised to learn that the IAAS has an oral history project, From Confinement to College: Video Oral Histories of Japanese American Students During WWII.




Later this fall, The Genki Spark will give a report on their July trip to the Tule Lake Pilgrimage in Tule Lake, CA, one of the former internment camp sites.

Lecture: Tuesday, 11/13/12, 6-9PM, Wolfe Auditorium, Tufts Medical Center, 800 Washington St., Boston, MA, Free.