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Browse > Time > 1940s

117 articles

Remembering Manzanar: Life in a Japanese Relocation Camp (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8
  • Grades 7-8
  • Young Adult, History
  • Evils of racism, Injustice, Power of the past, Reunion, War – glory, necessity, pain, tragedy
  • Widely available

Book for younger children about the Manzanar concentration camp.

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The Loom (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Adult
  • Fiction
  • Communication – verbal and nonverbal, Facing darkness, Loneliness as destructive force, Motherhood, Power of silence
  • Widely available

Short story by R. A. Sasaki that portrays the life of a Nisei woman looking both backwards and forwards after the death of one of her daughters. Born and raised in San Francisco where her family ran a boarding house, the unnamed woman graduated from the University of California before being incarcerated with her family in Tanforan and Topaz during World War II. Returning to San Francisco after the war having married a Kibei man she had known from before the war, she has four daughters while her husband works in the flower industry. Devoted to her daughters, she is at a loss as they leave the house to pursue their own lives and after one dies in a mountain climbing accident. Her daughters' efforts to bring her out of her torpor are largely unsuccessful until one gives her a loom, through which she is able to express the feelings …

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The Long Journey and the Short Ride (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Darkness and light, Motherhood, Optimism – power or folly, Reunion
  • Available

Seemingly autobiographical story by Toshio Mori about the author and his brother, a paralyzed veteran of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team , recalling the latter's visit to Topaz prior to shipping out for combat in Europe. The author and his mother get a pass to leave Topaz for the first time since they had arrived in order to see the brother off at the train station. Their apprehensions about being outside the camp are eased by a white family—who had also just seen a son off to war—who offer them a ride to town. Shifting back to the present of the story, the author notes the successful recovery that his brother has made since the war and both brothers lament that neither of their parents lived to see that recovery. The same incident is the basis for another story Mori had written in 1943 titled " The Travelers ." "The …

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Unfinished Message (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Communication – verbal and nonverbal, Motherhood
  • Available

Seemingly autobiographical story by Toshio Mori about his mother and brother. The story begins in 1945 in Topaz , where the author's mother can't sleep one night because of anxiety about her son, who is serving in Europe. She later finds out that he was wounded in battle that night. Later, they arrange for his transfer to a hospital in the U.S, deciding on one near the family home in California. When they leave camp and return home, she is able to visit him at the hospital. However, she later dies in her sleep before her son is released. After her death, the author and his brother hear tapping on the window of the room in which she died, which they interpret as her message to them. Written by Mori in 1947, the story was first published in his 1979 short story collection, The Chauvinist and Other Stories and reprinted …

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When Your Body Has Been Rolled in Thorns (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Evils of racism, Facing reality, Loss of innocence, Will to survive
  • Widely available

Short story by Ferris Takahashi about a Japanese American family leaving a concentration camp to return to their old home in Los Angeles. Told from the perspective of a college educated Nisei husband and father of two young children, the story begins as they gather up their possessions and prepare to leave the camp. Yosh, a friend who had returned earlier and was able to reestablish his business, greets them at the train station. When they return to their home, they find it trashed and vandalized, with all the furniture gone. They also learn that the Buddhist temple in which they had stored other possessions had burned down. Yosh and his family offer to put them up until they can fix their house. Returning to look more closely at the house after dinner, the man and his Issei mother find racist graffiti. His mother assures him that they will rebound.

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The Brothers Murata (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Family – blessing or curse, Nationalism – complications, Rights - individual or societal, Role of men
  • Available

Novella by Toshio Mori about two brothers in Topaz who clash over the issue of military service. Likely written in Topaz, it was first published in the 2000 Mori anthology Unfinished Message: Selected Works of Toshio Mori .

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Topaz Mosaic (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Communication—verbal and nonverbal, Family—blessing or curse, Optimism—power or folly, Reunion
  • Widely available

Three vignettes by Toshio Mori centering on a family in Topaz and the furlough visit of their Nisei soldier son. In the first, an Issei father struggles to write a letter to his son Sam in English. In the second, Sam stops in Salt Lake City to buy presents for his family before visiting them in Topaz the next day, recalling the friend (presumably in Topaz) who was convinced he was a "sucker" for volunteering. In the last, Sam is greeted warmly by his family and learns that a sister has left camp for New York and a brother is also joining the army.

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The Remembered Days (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Motherhood, Wisdom of experience
  • Widely available

A grandmother tells her grandchildren about her exclusion and confinement. Told in the first person voice of the grandmother, the story is divided into three sections: (1) recalling the train ride from Tanforan to Topaz ; (2) a rumination of the absurdity of the camp being dubbed the "Jewel of the Desert"; and (3) her remembrances of hearing of her son Yoshio's death while serving with the 442nd .

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Join Me in Laughter (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Motherhood, Optimism—power of folly, Wisdom of experience
  • Widely available

A grandmother tells her grandchildren about the meaning of life, while recalling episodes related to her confinement and return from Topaz . Apparently the same character as in the story " The Remembered Days ," published a year earlier, she recalls her adult children leaving Topaz behind to move on with their lives, acts of both prejudice and kindness upon her return to California, and the end of the war, while encouraging an optimistic attitude towards life.

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A Place to Belong (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12
  • Grades 7-8
  • Children's, Historical Fiction
  • Coming of age, Facing darkness, Family – blessing or curse, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Loss of innocence, Will to survive
  • Widely available

Young adult novel by Cynthia Kadohata that tells the story of a Japanese American family's experience in postwar Japan from the perspective of an adolescent female protagonist.

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No-No Boy (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Convention and rebellion, Family – blessing or curse, Heroism – real and perceived, Individual versus society, Patriotism – positive side or complications
  • Widely available

In 1956, Nisei writer John Okada wrote No-No Boy , a novel that explored the predicament of a Japanese American World War II conscientious objector, having served time in prison for refusing to serve in the military, who returns home only to face the consequences of his decision. Upon arriving in his former neighborhood, he is met with hostility and despair. He discovers that his mother delusionally believes that Japan has won the war, and his younger brother—ashamed of Ichiro's decision to refuse the draft—abruptly quits high school to join the army himself. In the course of the novel, Ichiro's inner conflict grows to reflect the racial tension and residual anguish following the war and his individual guilt represents the conflict of the country at large.

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And Then They Came for Us (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Evils of racism, Expression through art, Power of the past, Rights - individual or societal
  • Widely available

Documentary film that provides an overview of the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans while drawing explicit parallels to agitation against Arab Americans in the early months of the Trump Administration.

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First to Go: Story of the Kataoka Family (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Injustice, Optimism – power or folly, Power of the past
  • Widely available

Documentary film by Myles Matsuno built around an interview with his grandmother Mary "Hisako" Matsuno, a Nisei from San Francisco, about her wartime incarceration experience at Tanforan and Topaz . Additional interview footage from a 1996 interview with Toshi Handa, Mary's sister-in-law, adds additional information. Family home movies and photographs augment the production. The title refers to Mary's father, Issei hotelier Ichiro Kataoka, who was reportedly the first Issei in San Francisco to be arrested and interned on December 7, 1941.

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Mr. Tanimoto's Journey (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Individual versus society, Injustice, Power of the past
  • Widely available

Documentary film about Gridley, California, farmer and former Tule Lake inmate Jim Tanimoto that focuses on his wartime incarceration and on the postwar memory of that time. The film is built around interviews with Tanimoto and footage of him at his farm and at a Tule Lake Pilgrimage, along with interviews with his daughter and granddaughter. Tanimoto and his family went to Tule Lake directly in July 1942 and were placed in Block 42. He was among the many inmates in that block who resisted filling out the loyalty questionnaire and were subsequently imprisoned and held for a time at Camp Tulelake , a former CCC camp. He was eventually allowed to return to Tule Lake and then returned to Gridley in 1945, where he nonetheless faced a great deal of discrimination from locals. Tanimoto and his family also talk about the postwar silence about the incarceration, redress , and …

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When Rabbit Left the Moon (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Widely available
  • Documentary
  • Power of the past, Wisdom of experience
  • Available

Video essay by Emiko Omori on the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066 that traces the story of the wartime forced removal and incarceration through moving and still images and spare original music by Janice Giteck and Todd Boekelheide. The film begins with images of the Issei period, moving on to images of the incarceration, and to various aspect of life in the concentration camps beginning with happier scenes before turning to harsher ones, including images of post-segregation Tule Lake and documents describing shooting victims at Manzanar and draft resistance . The film moves on to images connected to Nisei soldiers in camp and on the battlefield before ending with camp cemeteries and images of the sites today. The title refers to a Japanese proverb and also to Omori's 1999 documentary, Rabbit in the Moon .

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Then Becoming Now (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Coming of age, Empowerment, Injustice, Power of the past
  • Widely available

Documentary film by Emiko Omori about three men—Kazumu "Kaz" Julio Cesar Naganuma, Hiroshi Fukuda, and Hiroshi "Shim" Shimizu—who met as young children when their families were interned at the Crystal City , Texas, internment camp, became friends in postwar San Francisco, and participated in protests against Trump administration immigrant detention and family separation policies in 2019. In interviews, each man discusses his family history and internment trajectory, with Fukuda's—whose father was a Konko-kyo minister—and Shimizu's being from San Francisco, while Naganuma's was among the Japanese Peruvians who were seized by the U.S. Government as part of a prisoner exchange program. They became friends after the war through the Boy Scout troupe run by the San Francisco Konko Church. The film ends with each speaking at 2019 protests, including one at a Dilley, Texas, detention center near the site of the Crystal City camp.

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Yamashita (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 3-5, Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Animation, History
  • Coming of age, Communication – verbal and nonverbal, Facing darkness, Family – blessing or curse
  • Widely available

Short animated film by Hayley Foster that tells the incarceration story from the perspective of a girl of about eight: her removal from home with her parents and grandfather, the hardships they face at Manzanar (meals in communal mess halls, the barbed wire fences, and saying the pledge of allegiance in a barrack classroom), and her embrace of Japanese culture that her mother discourages, but that her beloved grandfather supports. The hand drawn animation is mostly in black-and-white, with strategic bursts of color.

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