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“Executive Order 9066: Manzanar”

Terry Yoshimura Bendt, glass beadmaker

“take only what you can carry”
my aunt clings tightly
to her son

One of the 120,000 Japanese-American citizens forced to “relocate” was my father, Yoshimasa (Joe) Yoshimura. He was taken to the Manzanar Relocation Center along with his older brother, Yoshizo (Jim), and his younger sister, Yoshiye (Diane). Their father, Kichigoro, had been arrested by the FBI and jailed immediately after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The family did not see him until he was reunited with them in Manzanar two years later.

My uncle Yoshizo and his wife, Sachie Aono, had a 17-month-old son named Hajime when they were taken to Manzanar. Sachie became pregnant in the camp and gave birth to a little girl, Yoshimi. Her birth certificate reads, “Place of Birth: Manzanar, California.” She was their bright hope for the future.

The family stayed in the camp until 1945. All eventually settled in Chicago. My dad passed away in December of 1990 without ever speaking to us about his time in Manzanar. A slight smile did cross his lips as he read the formal letter of apology he received from the White House shortly before he died.

About the work

hollow form: chainsawn applewood block with turned, hollowed interior

This choice of wood reflects the camp’s location at the abandoned town of Manzanar, California, whose name means “apple orchard” in Spanish. By the time the camp was built, two decades of diversion of its water to Los Angeles had made the once-fertile fruit-growing valley a desert.

base: carved, dyed, and lacquered sassafras

Though the wood is nontraditional, the style of this base is typically Japanese.

barbed wire: hand-twisted aluminum wire

A five-strand barbed-wire fence surrounded the central area of the Manzanar camp, with sentries posted at eight watchtowers around the perimeter.

glass beads:

stones: enameled and etched lampworked soda-lime glass; kanji characters hand-painted with vitreous enamel, flame-fused

A 55-gallon drum of stones painted with kanji characters was found at another camp, Heart Mountain, in Wyoming. The kanji on these stones signify such things as “perseverance,” “family,” “hope,” “dream,” “return,” and the like.

blossoms: lampworked beads using handmade murrini of soda-lime glass

These depict cherry and apple blossoms, symbols of a former homeland and the beauty of a former life.

photos: photo transfers on glass shards backed with mulberry paper

These are Yoshimura family photos. Top right shard: Photo taken at the Manzanar camp by Toyo Miyatake. Left to right: Yoshizo (Terry’s uncle), Hajime, and Sachie (aunt), holding newborn Yoshimi. Lower left shard: Family photo taken before the war: Standing, left to right: Yoshimasa (Terry’s father), Yoshizo (uncle), Yoshiye (aunt); seated at center: Kichigoro (grandfather).

Acknowledgments

A special thanks to

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