Densho eNews - August

From the Director: Tom Ikeda

Over the weekend I laughed and cried while enjoying the play, Hold These Truths, about Gordon Hirabayashi's principled stand to defy government orders to be incarcerated with other Japanese Americans. The playwright, Jeanne Sakata, did a masterful job of capturing a 23-year-old Hirabayashi going from boyish wonderment to pained awareness as the country he loves rejects him during World War II. I also like that the emotional rollercoaster the audience experienced during the play was well informed with accurate historical context. This play is a good example of being both entertaining and an excellent history lesson. I wish I could say this about other fictionalized accounts of the incarceration.

A month ago, one of our summer hires brought to our attention an episode of Teen Wolf where mass killings of Japanese Americans take place in an American concentration camp. In the same way we would criticize a writer for making the conditions in concentration camps much better than they actually were, we need to be vigilant against embellishing the suffering or making the condition much worse. We don't need to confuse the truth as it is already bad enough. Brian Niiya gives a more detailed account in his blog post of this episode in Teen Wolf as well as an episode from Hawaii Five-0.

Also, in my message last month, I shared my displeasure about how Columns, the University of Washington Alumni magazine, highlighted an uninformed editorial letter about the Japanese American incarceration. Many of you wrote to the editors at Columns and they responded with a page to publish some of your comments. Thanks for speaking out!

I hope you are enjoying your summer. Please drop me a line at and tell me how Densho is doing.

Archive Spotlight

Ruby Inouye: Treating Issei Patients

Ruby Inouye was a longtime family physician in Seattle after World War II. In this clip, she talks about her ability to speak directly to her Issei patients without an interpreter. Ruby Inouye's full interview is available in the Densho Digital Archive.

>> View the interview excerpt
>> Register for the free Densho Digital Archive

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Densho News

Sushi & Sake Fest - October 1, 2014

Sushi & Sake Fest is early this year, so buy your tickets now! This annual reception-style event will be held on Wednesday, October 1, 2014, at MOHAI at South Lake Union. Early-bird tickets for the first 250 ticket buyers will be sold for $100 each. When these tickets are gone, the price of a ticket will go to $150.

We are looking for volunteers to help at Sushi & Sake Fest. If you are interested in volunteering and are available before 5 p.m. on the day of the event, please fill out the volunteer form.

>> Buy tickets
>> Download the volunteer form

From Densho's Blog: Making It Worse

Densho Content Director Brian Niiya recently posted on the subject of several popular television shows, Teen Wolf and Hawaii Five-0, depicting elements of the World War II incarceration. In the post, he explores a recent trend in which conditions in the American concentration camps are exaggerated and made to seem worse than they really were for dramatic effect.

>> View blog post: Making It Worse

New Articles in Densho's Encyclopedia

In July Densho published a number of articles in the Densho Encyclopedia, including articles about hibakusha or atomic bomb survivors, the Tucson Federal Prison Camp, Ernest Besig, Marilyn Hall Patel, and the Lim Report.

Funding for the encyclopedia was provided, in part, by a grant from the Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program. The encyclopedia will expand to over 1,000 articles when completed.

>> View blog post: New Densho Encyclopedia Articles, July 2014

High School Students Wanted for Video

Densho is looking for six high school students who are willing to be video-recorded learning about the Japanese American incarceration. The session will be on Tuesday, August 19, 2014, from 9am to 5pm at a location in Seattle. Students will receive a $100 stipend. Lunch and snacks will be provided. Please contact if you are interested or have questions.

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