2015, I found this lovely and large portrait in a local 2nd hand story.
The card on it really caught my attention.
I’m very familiar with Manazanar, the former WW II U.S. interment camp for Japanese American residents and citizens.
My grandfather was a farmer in coastal San Diego county and some of his fellow farmers were Japanese. At the time of the war, only US born Japanese Americans could buy land for farming. My grandfather stored their belongings when his neighbors were sent away. Many others, including churches also stored internees personal possessions.
I had a feeling that this portrait might have been stored for a family and for some reason, they had not recovered it.
A few calls and emails, I was able to get help from the ranger at Manzanar.
Although Itoko was a newlywed when she arrived at Manzanar with her husband, parents and in-laws, the ranger was able to connect me with her nephew Fred who lives in San Diego, not far from me.
He told me that they had never returned to their home in Pacific Palisades and instead relocated to San Diego where they farmed celery. She and her husband never had children and Nephew Fred took care of them in their older years.
Most amazing of all! Itoko was still alive! She was in a nursing home and has memory issues but she recognized her portrait immediately. She told Fred that it was her and that it hung in her bedroom when she was a child.