Sunday, October 25, 2015

Portrait: Sharon Osaki Wong

I met Sharon Osaki Wong in August, 2015 at her home in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Photo by Andy Frazer

Sharon's parents moved to the U.S. from Hiroshima, Japan in the early 1920's. In 1938 they purchased an 80-acre plum and pear farm in Newcastle, CA about 25 miles from Sacramento. In May 1942, they were forcibly evacuated from their homes and sent to the Arboga (Marysville) Assembly Camp. One month later they were sent to the Tule Lake Internment Camp in northern California. In May 1943 they were moved to the Jerome Internment Camp 2,200 miles away in Arkansas.

Sharon was born in the Jerome camp on May 4, 1944. When Sharon was one month old, the Jerome camp was closed. Her family was moved again to the Gila River Internment Camp in Arizona. In May 1945, her family was released. They returned to their ranch in Newcastle, CA.

In 2014 Sharon and her husband attended the annual reunion for Arkansas internees at the Japanese-American Internment Museum in McGehee, Arkansas and spoke about her family to those in attendance:

As in the camps, my parents and sisters practiced "gaman", a Japanese word meaning tolerance, patience, and perseverance. ... I made this trip [to] visit the Jerome and Rohwer internment sites. There are no barracks or people so I could only imagine the thousands of Japanese incarcerated behind barbed wire. Then I realized how fortunate I and others in my family are for my parents and sisters practicing 'gaman', and enduring the unbearable with patience and dignity. Thank you."

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