Naoko Wake Collection of Oral Histories of US Survivors of the Atomic Bombs


This collection consists of ten interviews that historian Naoko Wake conducted in 2011-15 for her book American Survivors: Trans-Pacific Memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Five of the interviews are with US survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, while the other five are with medical and legal professionals and community activists who have supported US hibakusha’s effort to gain recognition from both American and Japanese governments. The interviews include hibakusha’s childhood memories, their experiences of growing up in the United States and Japan, the 1945 nuclear attacks and their immediate aftermaths, returning (or coming) to America after the war, gaining Japanese and Japanese American supporters, and their concerns about their radiation illnesses and the lack of medical care. Their memories also illuminate the complex relationship between the bomb and the camp in postwar Japanese American families and communities.




Courtesy of Naoko Wake, Densho

10 Objects

Kathy Yamaguchi Interview (ddr-densho-1021-1)
vh Kathy Yamaguchi Interview (ddr-densho-1021-1)
Kathy Yamaguchi (pseudonym) was born in 1948 as a Sansei daughter of a homemaker and a gardener, who had met in the incarceration camp in Topaz, Utah. Yamaguchi calls her father an "assimilationist" who mostly associated with non-Asians, and she feels that she, too, did not have a lot of Japanese American friends when she was …
Geri Handa Interview (ddr-densho-1021-2)
vh Geri Handa Interview (ddr-densho-1021-2)
Geri Handa was born in San Jose, California, in 1948, and studied in the early 1970s at the School of Social Welfare at the University of California, Los Angeles, with a focus on community organizing and social services for seniors. She joined Asians for Community Actions in San Jose and worked at Keiro Nursing Home in …
Keiko Shinmoto Interview (ddr-densho-1021-3)
vh Keiko Shinmoto Interview (ddr-densho-1021-3)
Keiko Shinmoto's father migrated from Hiroshima to Portland, Oregon, where his brother was an owner of a grocery store. After returning to Hiroshima to see his ailing father, Keiko's father found it impossible to return to America as his mother hid his passport to keep him in Japan. Shortly, Keiko's mother joined him in Hiroshima, also …
Matsuko Hayashi Interview (ddr-densho-1021-4)
vh Matsuko Hayashi Interview (ddr-densho-1021-4)
Born in 1921 in Parlier in Fresno County, California, Matsuko Hayashi (pseudonym) grew up as the second oldest of the eight children of a first-generation immigrant who had come to the United States as a sixteen years old, and his wife who had come as a "picture bride." They raised grapes on three farms that Matsuko's …
Junji Sarashina Interview (ddr-densho-1021-5)
vh Junji Sarashina Interview (ddr-densho-1021-5)
Junji Sarashina was born in 1929 in Lahaina, Hawai'i, the son of a minister of a Buddhist Temple Nishihongan-ji and a teacher of Japanese-style flower arrangement, music, sewing, and cooking. The youngest of five children, Sarashina grew up surrounded by temple members (mostly plantation workers) and their families who enjoyed community picnics and samurai films. When …
Jun Dairiki Interview (ddr-densho-1021-6)
vh Jun Dairiki Interview (ddr-densho-1021-6)
Jun Dairiki was born in San Francisco in 1934 and was seven years old when the Japanese army attacked Pearl Harbor. Her family was sent to a detention center in Tanforan, then to the camp in Topaz, Utah. Dairiki remembers how her mother told her that, now that she was in camp, she was free of …
Yuriko Furubayashi Interview (ddr-densho-1021-7)
vh Yuriko Furubayashi Interview (ddr-densho-1021-7)
Yuriko Furubayashi was born in 1927 in Waimea, Hawai'i, as one of the ten children of the family. Her father had come to Hawai'i from Hiroshima in the mid-1910s as a contract worker on a pineapple plantation. He grew vegetables and kept chickens around the house to help feed the family. Her mother cooked Japanese food …
Thomas T. Noguchi Interview (ddr-densho-1021-8)
vh Thomas T. Noguchi Interview (ddr-densho-1021-8)
Thomas Noguchi was the first Japanese American to serve as the Chief Medical Examiner-Coroner of Los Angeles Country. Well-known for conducting autopsies of public figures such as Robert F. Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, and William Holden, Noguchi was in the position between 1967 and 1982. As a Shin Issei immigrant born in Japan (in 1927) and trained …
Paul Satoh Interview (ddr-densho-1021-9)
vh Paul Satoh Interview (ddr-densho-1021-9)
Born in Osaka, Japan, in 1936, Paul Satoh spent a happy childhood as the only child of a chemist and a homemaker. Satoh's extended family included an uncle who had studied at the University of California, Los Angeles, and his wife, a US-born Nikkei from Hawai'i who occasionally had received a "care pack from the United …
Donald K. Tamaki Interview (ddr-densho-1021-10)
vh Donald K. Tamaki Interview (ddr-densho-1021-10)
Born in 1951, Donald K. Tamaki spent his formative years in the era of the African American and Asian American civil rights movements. He studied at the Asian American Studies program at University of California, Berkeley, and became a lawyer inspired by the significant social and political changes of the 1970s. In the early 1980s, he …