Saturday, October 23, 2010

Portrait: Aiko Jio

About two years ago I photographed a wonderful lady named Aiko Jio at the San Jose Day of Remembrance ceremony. At the time I did not know who she was, but I knew that I wanted to photograph a portrait of her for the Kioku project. One and one-half years later I was attending a volunteer picnic for the Nihonmachi Outreach Committee. While I was talking with a few people, I was surprised to learn that this lady was the mom of my friend Gary Jio. I told Gary that I would like to do his mom's portrait, and he immediately help set up our meeting.

(Photo by Andy Frazer)

Aiko Jio was born and raised in San Jose, CA. After the outbreak of WWII, she was incarcerated at Heart Mountain with her parents, her three sisters and five brothers. Before proceding to the internment camp, Aiko worked with the Japanese-American Citizens' League to help process other internees at the San Jose State University gymnasium located at the corner of 4th and San Carlos St.

(Photo by Andy Frazer)

Her family was first incarcerated at the Santa Anita Assembly Center before taking the long train ride through Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Colorado before arriving at Heart Mountain in Wyoming.

(Andy Frazer and Aiko Jio, photo by Gary Jio)

Aiko's future husband was already serving the U.S. Army when WWII broke out. They were married in Heart Mountain while he was serving. After he joined the Military Intelligence Service (M.I.S.), the family was reunited at Fort Snelling in Minneapolis, MN.

Aiko's father, Torahiko Kawakami, was one of the Issei pioneers in San Jose. He ran the hostel for Japanese-Americans who returned to San Jose after the war.

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