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Return to Heart Mountain

Japanese-Americans interned during World War II tell their stories

Jimi Yamaichi, 89

— Photo by Kevin Miyazaki

Jimi Yamaichi, 89

How old were you when you arrived at the camp?
I was 19 years old, and I came with my parents and nine siblings. My second brother was already in the Army, having been drafted before December 7, 1941.

How long were you there?
I was at Heart Mountain for a year.

What is your strongest memory from the camp?
My strongest memory of Heart Mountain was the bitter cold, especially coming from California and not being prepared for this type of weather.

What did you do after you were released from the camp?
Upon being released from camp, not from Heart Mountain but from Tule Lake, I returned to San Jose. I obtained my California contractor's license, made a career in construction, got married (now for 62 years), had 4 children (2 girls and 2 boys) who are all married and now am a grandfather to 4 granddaughters.

How do you feel about Heart Mountain and that time in your life?
When I arrived in Heart Mountain in 1942, I was a young kid, having graduated from high school in June 1941. Because I was in construction, I was assigned to supervise 15 much older men to repair the main canal where the water ran into the Heart Mountain basin. The confidence gained from this experience made me realize that I could be an effective and productive leader.

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