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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.

Author Background

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.

Authored by Emily Anderson
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Find in the Digital Library of Japanese American Incarceration

Nisei Odyssey: The Camp Years

This item has been made freely available in the Digital Library of Japanese American Incarceration , a collaborative project with Internet Archive .

Might also like Manzanar to Mount Whitney: The Life and Times of a Lost Hiker by Hank Umemoto; In Search of Hiroshi by Gene Oishi; Starting from Loomis and Other Stories by Hiroshi Kashiwagi

Media Details
Author Norio MItsuoka
Pages 228
Publication Date 1996
For More Information

For More Information

Norio Mitsuoka Obituary , Los Angeles Times , Feb. 7, 2010.