Nisei Odyssey: The Camp Years (book)
Creators: Norio Mitsuoka
Nisei's recollections of his experiences incarcerated in an assembly center and concentration camp during World War II as well as a recounting of various stories he remembers hearing from others both before and during the war.
This collection of recollections and memories by Norio Mitsuoka (1917–2010) focuses on his experience incarcerated at Puyallup (Camp Harmony) assembly center and Minidoka concentration camp. In addition to his own memories, he also includes stories he heard from other Japanese Americans.
Mitsuoka was in the U.S. Army Air Corps when Pearl Harbor was attacked, and was moved from active duty to the reserves soon after. He hitchhiked from Merced Air Field in northern California, where he was stationed, to Los Angeles, where he visited Little Tokyo and visited with friends. He heard about the arrests of prominent Issei by the FBI there. From Los Angeles, he hitchhiked to his hometown of Seattle, where he learned more about the chaos and uncertainty in the Japanese American community in the early months of 1942.
He was forcibly removed to Puyallup (Camp Harmony) assembly center, and then to Minidoka concentration camp. In this volume, he recounts his many observations about the plight of Japanese Americans, their experiences in the assembly center and concentration camp, what was fair and to be expected and what was unjust about what happened to Japanese Americans, whether or not Nisei should volunteer for military service, his own struggles trying to be have his active duty status reinstated, and his many experiences working at the fire station at Minidoka.
Norio Mitsuoka was the son of Issei immigrants to Seattle who ran a restaurant in the downtown area. After his father's death, his mother returned to Hiroshima, and his siblings went with her. His parents were devout Methodists. Mitsuoka enrolled at Michigan State University when Minidoka was about to close. He worked in the aerospace industry in California. He passed away in 2010 at the age of 92.