Oregon Nikkei History

Sharing and preserving Japanese American history and culture

On this site we highlight photos from our historical collection housed at the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center in Portland's Old Town neighborhood, as well as other information about history and Japanese Americans in Oregon. Please visit www.oregonnikkei.org to learn more about the Oregon Nikkei Endowment and its programs.
Posts tagged "1940s"

Dr. Kei Koyama in his dental office at NW 3rd Avenue and Couch Street in Portland’s Japantown, circa 1941. Dr. Koyama’s office was in the Merchant Hotel building.

The Girl Reserves Nisei basketball team of Portland, Oregon, circa 1940.

1940 Japanese Association parade float, Portland Rose Festival

This float from the 1940 floral parade was honored as the “Goodwill Float - First Prize Winner.” This float continues a pattern of earlier Japanese American community floats from the Rose Festival that feature Japanese and American flags quite prominently. They have also depicted a globe with doves suspended over it, reflecting a desire for peace as World War II had already begun in East Asia and Europe.

John Murakami, 442nd Regimental Combat Team

The Nisei (second generation Japanese Americans) had their own segregated units during World War II, and the 442nd RCT became the most decorated unit of its size and length of service in U.S. military history.

John Murakami is shown here with a little girl in France. John received a Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his service during World War II as part of “F” Company, 2nd Battalion.

Nisei soldiers and WACs, 1946

Captioned “Jim, Kisa, Lorry, Linda,” this photo was probably taken in 1946 in Washington, D.C. Lorry Nakatsu served in the Military Intelligence Service during World War II in the India-Burma Theater. After the war he was briefly assigned to Camp Ritchie in Maryland and then to a post in Washington, D.C., before he was discharged in July of 1946.

There were very few Nisei in the Women’s Army Corps, and this is one of the only photos we have showing Nisei WACs.

Ike Iwasaki, 442nd RCT

Taken in January 1945. Akira “Ike” Iwasaki is shown hauling 81-mm ammunition by mule to a forward position in Menton, France. Ike was a member of “D” Company (heavy weapons), 100th Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II. The 442nd RCT was a segregated unit in the US Army made up almost entirely of Japanese Americans.

Photo caption: “Left-Mule, right-Iwasaki”

Portrait of a Japanese American woman by OSU Special Collections & Archives on Flickr.

One of the largest Japanese American communities in Oregon after World War II was in the Ontario area, in Eastern Oregon’s Malheur County. From the Oregon State University Special Collections and Archives Research Center blog:

We don’t know much about the woman in this picture, apart from the fact that it was taken in 1946 and she is a Japanese American field worker in Ontario, Oregon.

During World War II, the federal government forced West Coast Japanese immigrants and Japanese Americans to leave their homes for internment camps or inland states…[I]n May 1942, Malheur County became one of the first counties to recruit Japanese American evacuees for farm work.

via Flickr/osucommons

1945 Hunt High School yearbook page

Hunt High School was located at the Minidoka Relocation Center in Idaho, where many Japanese Americans from the Pacific Northwest spent WWII. This yearbook page shows the Winter Mardi Gras Carnival Queen and Court from January 1945.

The Nisei often had unusual nicknames, and this class was no exception. A few of the nicknames from this page alone include Chiyoko “Onions” Murooka, Fudge Sakanashi, and Porky Noritake (bottom right photo).

Members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Circa 1945.

The Nisei (second generation Japanese Americans) had their own segregated units during WWII, and the 442nd RCT became the most decorated unit, for its size and length of service, in U.S. military history.

1945 Hunt High School yearbook page

A few sports snapshots, featuring outdoor basketball and tumbling in the gymnasium. The yearbook notes that the gymnasium was unfinished and unable to host any basketball activities, but the students were able to reconstruct a hoop outdoors.

Sahomi Tachibana dance performance, 1944

Sahomi Tachibana dance performance at the Topaz, Utah, internment camp in 1944. Sahomi had been studying Nihon Buyo in Japan, but she returned to California in November of 1941 “on the last boat” for America. Sahomi soon shared the fate of more than 110,000 Japanese Americans confined in concentration camps in remote areas of the United States.

The Nikkei at the World War II camps were not allowed to have cameras, yet a number of photos from the camps have survived, including this one.

Toshiaki Kuge, 442nd RCT

At the rear aid station, Mt. Altissimo, April 1945. Dr. Kuge was a member of the all-Nisei 44nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II.