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Artifacts

The images on this page are a sampling of the extensive artifact collection included in the Japanese American Archival Collection. For additional information about the JAAC, please see our website at The Department of Special Collections and University Archives, Library, California State University, Sacramento or call us at (916) 278-6144 

Note: Click on the thumbnail to view the larger image

Army service flag JC3C 09.jpg (108818 bytes)Army Service Flag, ca. 1943, JC3C 09

This flag was displayed in an internment camp by the parents of two Japanese American World War II soldiers.

 

Barracks painting 3 JCfolio2 07.jpg (138135 bytes)Watercolor of Tule Lake barracks with watchtower, 1944. Artist: Charles Erabu Mikami, JCFolio2 07

Mikami was born in Hiroshima, Japan in 1901 and began studying sumi-e painting at the age of 14. In 1919 he immigrated to Seattle. He and his family were interned first at Tule Lake Internment Center and later transferred to Topaz Internment Center. During his incarceration, he actively painted sumi-e. After moving to Morgan Hill, California, he continued to do sumi-e painting and write senrye poems. His paintings can be found in the collection of the Japanese American Archives in San Francisco.

 

Basket top 2 JC 25R1 30.jpg (133567 bytes)Oval fruit basket with handle, n.d. Artist: Constance Kurosawa McMillan, JC25R1 30

Basket made while interned at Topaz Internment Center by wrapping crepe paper around thin wires, weaving it into a basket shape, and shellacking it.

 

Cards JC25B 5.jpg (115696 bytes)Hana Fuda Japanese playing cards, n.d. Artist: Choji Nakan, JC25B 05

The set consists of seventy-five individually hand painted playing cards made while Mr. Nakan was at Tule Lake Internment Center. Made of hard electrical insulation boards, they became so popular that he made them for people in the other nine internment centers.

 

Carved cane JC22L 10.jpg (104412 bytes)Manzanita cane, n.d. JC22L 10

This cane was carved in Tule Lake Internment Center and has painted images of a monkey, giraffe, lion, frog, and Native Americans performing a war dance. From Beauty Behind Barbed Wire: "Curious natural wood forms were sought, collected and used by the wood-minded, and in these camp communities in which most of the getting about was by foot, it was inevitable that walking sticks in natural forms would be searched for, and others shaped for use.

 

Carved ducks JC22V 11.jpg (90853 bytes)Wooden pin, ca. 1943, JC22V 11

Made at Tule Lake Internment Center.

 

Carved tortoise JC1F 01.jpg (87731 bytes)Tortoise carved from oak wood, ca. 1944. Artist: Kametaro Takeuchi, JC1F 01

Carved at Tule Lake Internment Center, the tortoise or "Kame" has a long tradition in Japanese folklore. The "kame" represents 10,000 years of life and is often depicted in Japanese art and symbolisms.

 

Carving of animals JC1P 12.jpg (88029 bytes)Wooden pin, ca. 1943. Artist: Dan Inouye, JC1P 12

Carved at Poston Internment Center, the artist carved this pin depicting a deer and fawn for Amy Inouye Shimada.

 

Carving of climbing figures distant JC21E 06.jpg (90184 bytes)Wood carving from tree branch, ca. 1943. Artist: Harry Tsuruda, JC21E 06

Carved at Amache Internment Center, this carving from a tree branch depicts two figures climbing a mountain and another figure sitting at the top.

 

Cigarette and toothpick holders JC 25B 6 JC 25B 7.jpg (101086 bytes)Cigarette pack holder and toothpick holder, n.d. JC25B 06 and JC25B 07

Made at Tule Lake Internment Center, these items were woven out of an onion sack.

 

Doll Bridal black kimono JC 25H.jpg (93803 bytes)Bridal doll, n.d. Artist: Kimiko Ito, JC25H

Made at Tule Lake Relocation Center.

 

 

 

Embroidered blouse front.jpg (113375 bytes)Embroidered shirt, 1943. Owner: Fusaye Yokoyama, 2001/41

Friends and acquaintances of Fusaye Yokoyama signed the shirt while she was at the Tule Lake Internment Center and then she embroidered over their signatures.

 

Heart shaped pin JC22T 07.jpg (72870 bytes)Heart shaped pin, ca. 1943. Artist: Chris Ishii, JC22T 07

Made at Amache Internment Center, the pin is painted with a caricature of "lil' neebo" - meaning little Nisei boy - and was the mascot for the camp.

 

Paint brushes JC 21D 06.jpg (87922 bytes)Paintbrushes used by Harry Tsuruda, JC21D 06

The six paint brushes were used at Amache Internment Center for sumi-e painting and calligraphy

 

Pens and holder JC22T 3 4 5.jpg (109930 bytes)Pen, pencil and holder, ca. 1943. JC22T 02, JC22T 03 and JC22T 04

Made at the Gila River Internment Center. The pen and pencil are made from ironwood and the holder is carved from the Saguaro cactus. The wooden base of the holder is made from wood salvaged from a crate box.

 

Purse white crocheted JC1P 23.jpg (177794 bytes)Crocheted purse, ca. 1943. JC1P 23

Made at the Gila River Internment Center. The wooden handles are painted with a scene from the Gila River camp.

 

Shell corsage jc25B 4.jpg (90064 bytes)Corsage pin made of shells, n.d., JC25B 04

Made at the Tule Lake Internment Center

 

Tools Flower making JC 25S.jpg (89249 bytes)Flower making tools used by Kotono Kato,  JC25S

Used at Amache Internment Center. The flower making tools were bought from Japan ca. 1928 and the entire set includes 25 iron makers, 5 cast iron flower molds, 1 cast iron base, 1 bamboo plate, 2 bamboo tubes, 1 long tweezer, 1 homemade holemaker, 1 ruler. Also included is one white, paper flower petal,

 

Vest back JC3B 01.JPG (362144 bytes)Sen Nin Bari vest, ca. 1944. Owner: George Matsushita, JC3B 01

The vest was sent by Matsushita's mother from the Amache Internment Center while he was a member of Company "I", 442nd Regimental Combat Team. The term "Sen nin bari" literally means 1,000 knots sewn by people, but in a real sense the many knots were sewn by women into sashes, shirts, vests and other items. It is said that each knot represents its maker's wish for the wearer's everlasting fortune in war. This vest was worn by Matsushita during many of his battles in Italy during World War II.

 

Wallet 3 JC1p 11.jpg (119808 bytes)Wallet, ca. 1943. Artist: Eizuchi Tsujikawa, JC1P 11

Made at the Tule Lake Internment Center, this leather folding wallet has the design of Tule Lake carved into the front.

 

WRA pin JC22 47.jpg (83048 bytes)WRA Pin,. n.d. Owner: Lilly Hirota, JC22 47

This pin was issued by the War Relocation Authority and owned by Lilly Hirota while she was interned at Tule Lake Internment Center.