Friday, March 31, 2017

Interview 1, Part 3

I think before the order came out that we all had to leave the west coast, more active Japanese leaders of the communities were being rounded up and sent to camps. They had special camps for those people. In fact, they were the first camps that they built to get all the leaders and anyone they thought was a spy or working for the Japanese government or whatever they were all being rounded up. 

So the Buddhist church leaders, a big majority of them were rounded up. I’m not sure if the priests and ministers were being rounded up too or not, but they were one of the first to be rounded up and they were being sent to these camps. And the poor rest of the families they had to fend for themselves. And anybody that they thought were somehow involved with Japan, or sending money or handling finances and things [was also rounded up]. 

But still, before any of this all this all happened, people that was of army age they were all still being drafted at that time. My stepbrother was in the service, there were a lot of people in the service and a lot of them had a rough time. This fellow that ran a restaurant that we used to go eat, he was saying that when the president or someone came to visit the camp, they were all rounded up and kept away from the rest of the troops, and they were part of the military service. 

And then there were some [that were] educated in Japan, came here, drafted, but then [they weren't] fluent in English—[they] could speak English and understand it, but [they weren't] raised over here—so [they were] discharged from the service. See there are some like that, but others they kept in the service. You don’t know what their reasons are.

And then, when we were in camp, I know we were there more than a year, the government came out with a questionnaire for all the residents—whether you were going to be loyal to the US or not. It was a yes or no question. So, a big majority said yes, they were going to be not loyal to Japan, but loyal to the US. All the people that said no, they were being kept at Tulelake, and the people that said yes were all being shipped out of Tulelake. [Grandma] was sent to Arkansas, I was sent to Utah, others went to these other camps in different places. That’s what happened at the end.

But then…while I was still was in Tulelake, the Army had sent Japanese recruiters, serviceman recruiters for the language school. They came to the camps and each block, I think they visit each block, and gave a pitch for volunteering for the language school. And anybody that donated--they had all these agitators that were against the US [that] were really ostracizing.

That was the beginning of trying to recruit people for the US Army Language School. That’s what they found was important, that they had these interpreters. There was a lot that volunteered. And there were others that were already in the military services. If they were fluent in Japanese, they were transferred to the language school. That was it for people at camp.

(An excerpt from my first interview with my grandpa, January 14, 2017)


1. I should do more research into who was rounded up first and where they were sent. I have found some sources that have said that the community leaders were sent to Crystal City, but I still have to do the real research.

2. Can you imagine how easy it would be to see who is sending money to whom and trace people's relations and actions nowadays given the internet and social media?  

3. If you don't trust your soldiers, why keep them enlisted? Also, the hypocrisy! We've decided that you're no longer considered a citizen and we don't trust you, but please work for us?  I understand why people who volunteered to help the US Army Language School were given a hard time. 

4. On the other hand, that is some strong loyalty if despite being branded essentially a criminal you want to help the people who are imprisoning you. I can empathize with that attitude...

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Thank You, Cinema Bar!

I had a blast opening for Poeina and The Letters Home this weekend! Thank you to everyone who came out and to The Cinema Bar for having us. It's always a pleasure. (Also, it was the first time I ever played a show with my hair in a beehive...Thank you Omar of The Letters Home for capturing it in action!)

Stay tuned for more updates and show dates!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Crystal City

Fear not, Crystal City. You are not forgotten, even though your name isn’t listed on most lists of Japanese American internment camps, even though I didn’t know you were a place I should visit until I found you mentioned once in a display at the Japanese American National Museum, and even though I had to pass you by on this trip to Texas despite planning on passing through your borders. I have added you to my tour and adjusted the route to make sure I see you and whatever remnants of your history you have to offer.

It makes me wonder what else I’m not aware of because it was never written down.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Thank You, Austin!

A GIANT thank you to Austin! I had such a great time experiencing Texas and my first SXSW. It was definitely slightly overwhelming—so much music, so many people, so many miles to travel—but through the entire adventure, everyone was welcoming and kind, and the barbecue was incredible, and we had a fun showcase.

Shout-out to Vinyl Cuts. Thank you for putting together such a beautiful event for us! Can’t wait to come back next year.

And of course, shout-out to AndromiDen Recordings for getting myself and MetronOhm out to SXSW!

Until next time, Texas, thanks for the memories!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Family Trees - Roots and Results

Family trees. I wasn't sure how much I wanted to get into them. Focusing on four people's experiences--my grandparents' experiences--seemed like enough for one tour without giving much thought to all their siblings and cousins. But, my dad's parents have already passed on, so I have to hear their stories in other ways. And since my aunt so kindly sent over their family trees, why not start there and get a sense of their connections and rough outlines of their lives?

I wasn't entirely sure what insights I would gain from looking at their trees--I certainly wasn't expecting it to be an emotional experience--but as I looked at all the names (and sometimes pictures!) and all the connections, I was overwhelmed with the sense that I have no idea who my family is. All of these people, descended from the same two people, producing all of these other people, and I could recognize maybe twenty of them. I guess that's what happens when people have lots of children...

 And then, there was the feeling of awe seeing the dates that my grandparents were born, and the dates that their parents were born, and the dates that their parents were born. And the locations! I never knew that one of my great grandfathers was born in Hiroshima, or that my great great grandmother died while imprisoned at Amache, or that my family has history in Hollister and Santa Rosa. I'll have to figure out how to add these places to my tour!

I never knew how much my grandma looked like her mother, or that my brother inherited my great great grandfather's cheekbones. It was like discovering parts of me that had been covered in thick layers of dust, or buried in the ground long ago. I could almost feel the ancient past running through my veins. I wondered who else I was connected to. I wondered how far back I could trace, who were these people whose blood I shared? What were they like? Were they musical? What view did they see when they walked out their front door?

And then there was a sense of deep sorrow and a longing to hug my grandparents again, tell them that I love them and ask them for their stories in person.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Shadow Paths Update 1

As last minute preparations are being made for AndromiDen Recording's first trip out to SXSW as a label, I am on a quest of my own as I figure out the best way to share my process and my findings for Shadow Paths. In conjunction with the interviews, I think these quick video updates are going to be effective and a lot of fun. 😉

THIS WEEKEND: The Letters Home, MetronOhm, and I are going to hit the road to experience Austin in all its glory

MARCH 25: I will be opening for The Letters Home at The Cinema Bar in Culver City, CA. Poeina will be performing as well!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Interview 1, Part 2

In that twelve day period [after the notices to leave went up], automobiles and big items like that, they had a storage place right close to where Sacramento Bee is now, Muir Company Warehouse…It was a warehouse. And that’s where my folks stored this car they had bought. It was fairly new. I forgot if it was a Ford or a Mercury—it was one of them. It was stored there. And any other things that was big and which you couldn’t pack up I think you were able to store there too. 

And the people that didn’t have a place, or they had a whole home and a garage or something or a barn, they stored it right there. They didn’t sell the house or anything. And at that time they were able to—first generation people—were only able to buy homes or a house if they had a son or daughter under their name, because at that time “Orientals” were not allowed to become citizens.

Anyway, this relocation camp [Walerga Assembly Center]—temporary camp—we were there about a month I think. We were there because…We were going to Tulelake so they were getting the camp built--we had to be there until they got it built enough so we could move in. So when we got notice at Walerga to go, then they put us on the bus and—what was the station that they loaded us onto railroad cars? You know, the [railroad cars] that have seats. And then from there we went up to Tulelake. I think it was just a one day trip. 

(An excerpt from my first interview with my grandpa, January 14, 2017)
My thoughts:

1. I'm going to have to visit the Sacramento Bee on my trip. The warehouse where some of my family's belongings had been stored might not be there now, and in the grand scheme of things, where people stored their stuff doesn't seem like a particularly interesting part of the story, but...(cont. in number 2)

2. My great grandparents had recently bought a car, but they had to keep it in storage?? STORAGE??? I guess I have been lucky so far and haven't had to keep a vehicle in storage, but I may or may not have experience using storage facilities, and the thought of keeping my car in one of those facilities is a little depressing (though definitely better than having your car stolen). Also, how many Japanese-American families were keeping their vehicles in storage? ALSO, how big were these storage units?? AND, how expensive was it to rent a storage unit large enough to fit your car and all the rest of your worldly belongings that you couldn't take with you in 1942?

3. I'll have to do some digging and learn more about the anti-"Oriental" laws that were in place at the time

4. Consider Walerga added to my list of places to visit on my travels. When I was a child, I heard the name "Tulelake" come up often enough for me to remember, but I had no idea that Walerga (sometimes referred to as the Sacramento Assembly Center) even existed. I found this website useful in my search for more information.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on my family's story and their experiences! Let me know on Facebook and Twitter, and don't forget to use #ShadowPathsTour!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

SXSW Update

I am super excited to announce that I will be joining the AndromiDen family on the road this month on a journey to Austin and South by Southwest! I've never been to Texas before, so I'm really looking forward to the adventure. Plus, label-mates and friends The Letters Home, Poeina, and MetronOhm will be there, too!

More details are on the way. Also on the way, more fun, new merch and another Shadow Paths entry (expect this every Friday), so stay tuned!