A Father Detained

Relationship: Im/migrant
Letter from INS Building, May 17, 1942
Letter from INS Building, May 17, 1942

The Immigration and Naturalization Service Building was used to detain first generation Japanese community and business leaders amid the wartime hysteria and racism that followed the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan in December 1941.  Sanzo Murakami – owner of the Higo 10 Cents Store on Jackson and Maynard in Seattle's Japantown – was apprehended by the FBI and separated from his family while they were incarcerated at “Camp Harmony” in Puyallup. He was detained in Seattle for several months before being “released” to join his family at the Minidoka concentration camp in Idaho.  This letter was sent by Sanzo to his oldest daughter Aya, indicating his first arrival for detention at Seattle’s INS Building, May 17, 1942. According to educator and poet Lawrence Yutaka Matsuda, “The emotions embedded in the stories are told through Japanese cultural filters such as gaman, or bearing the unbearable with dignity. Because many Japanese cultural values encouraged silence… the reader [must] take the next step and fully imagine the unexpressed thoughts, fears, grief, joy and trauma.” - Murakami Family Collection, Wing Luke Museum 

Place(s): Seattle, Puyallup, Idaho

– Cassie Chinn

Relationship:  Im/migrant Im/migrant