February 28, 2023

When Frances Nishimura died in 2019 at the age of 102, she left behind a mystery that might never be solved. On a warm spring day in May 2021, Elaine Nishimura was clearing out the last of her mother’s belongings from storage in her Portland home when she found an unassuming handmade box she had never seen before.

“I opened this box and about fell over, because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” remembers Nishimura. What she found inside was a cake, and not just any cake. It was the top tier of the cake from her parents’ wedding, from the summer of 1943.

Read more about the cake and its remarkable journey from Tule Lake to Amache to Oregon in this Atlas Obscura article by Densho Communications and Public Engagement Director Natasha Varner.

Elaine Nishimura holds the top tier of her parents' wedding cake from when they were married in Tule Lake concentration camp in 1943.
Elaine Nishimura holds the top tier of her parents’ wedding cake, which has miraculously survived since they were married in Tule Lake in 1943. Read the full story here.
A travel booklet with notes written by Frances Nishimura tracking her WWII incarceration journey. Handwritten text reads, "May 22, 1942, 5pm, Auburn to Pinedale. May 24, two nights on train. July 16, 1942, 8am, Pinedale to Tule Lake. July 17, one night on train. November 10, 1943, 8pm, Tule Lake to Granada. 3 days, 4 nights on train. November 14, 9am, Amache, Colorado."
Frances Nishimura used a complimentary travel booklet to track her forced removal from Auburn, Washington and subsequent journeys between detention facilities. Courtesy of Elaine Nishimura; this and many other items will soon be published in the Densho Digital Repository as part of the Itabashi Collection.