Japanese Reporter Discovers Family’s Roots While at Heart Mountain

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In this photo in the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center, Asa Ideishi looks toward the camera as she eats in one of the camp’s mess halls. Her grandson, Tadashi Ideishi, discovered this photo will visiting Heart Mountain to conduct interviews for his report on NHK World, a Japanese TV network.

By RAY LOCKER

Tadashi Ideishi was touring the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center on July 26 while preparing for a story for Japan’s NHK television network when he saw a familiar face looking back at him from one of the center’s exhibits.

“There is my grandmother,” Ideishi said while looking at an enlarged photograph of one of the camp’s mess halls.

Asa Ideishi was 33 when she and her family were forced from their home in Santa Monica and sent first to Santa Anita and then to Heart Mountain, where they arrived on Sept. 6, 1942.

She came with her husband, Shigeo, who was 49; her brother in law, Yoshinori, 52; and two of their children, Mitsuru, 8, and Yasuko, 5. Yasuko sits next to her mother in the photo, while Shigeo had his back to the camera.

Missing, however, was Tadashi Ideishi’s father, Hajime, who was born in 1928 in the U.S. but sent to Japan for school. Such Nisei who were sent to Japan for education were known as Kibei.

Shirley Higuchi speaks with NHK reporter Tadashi Ideishi at Heart Mountain, where Ideishi’s grandparents were incarcerated during World War II. Ideishi’s father, Hajime, had been stuck in Japan for school when war broke out and never made it back to the U.S., where he had been born.

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, the Kibei in Japan were stuck. Hajime Ideishi, his son said, could not return to his family during the war, and when it was over, he remained in Japan, married and started a family.

The Ideishi family stayed in Heart Mountain until Oct. 20, 1945, just 20 days before the camp closed its doors. They moved to Los Angeles, where they have remained since. Ideishi said his aunt and uncle still live in the area.

Photos by RAY LOCKER

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