Help pack a million meals for struggling seniors on Sept. 11. Volunteer today


Military and Veterans Discount

Contests and


Free AARP E-Books

Protecting Yourself Online for Dummies

Here's the mini guide you need to steer through the hazards with confidence.

Learn More


AARP Games - Play Now!


AARP Staying Sharp: Keep Your Brain Healthy

News & Politics Forums

Share your opinions on news and current events that matter most to you.

Join the discussion »

AARP Auto Buying Program



Return to Heart Mountain

Japanese-Americans interned during World War II tell their stories

Patricia Yamakawa Yamamoto, 74

— Photo by Kevin Miyazaki

Patricia Yamakawa Yamamoto, 74

How old were you when you arrived at the camp?

I was 4, almost 5, on my arrival at Heart Mountain on August 21 or 22, 1942. I came with my parents, David and Shizu Yamakawa, older brother, David, Jr,. age 6, and paternal grandmother, Lucy Aiko Yamakawa.


How long were you there?

We were there over 3 years, departing October 16, 1945.

What is your strongest memory from the camp?

The anti-Jap signs in Cody.

What did you do after you were released from the camp?

Our family returned to San Francisco and lived for the first 2 years in a dormitory outside the naval shipyard with other Japanese-American families because we had no other housing. We moved in 1947 into then-segregated public housing, Hunter's Point Housing Project, and I wondered why we had been put in "camp" for being of Japanese ancestry and now we were in the "white" section of the housing project. It didn't quite make sense to a 10-year-old.


I graduated from UC Berkeley in 1959. I had a short career as a first-grade teacher and got married. We have 3 children and 1 grandchild. I continue to be a substitute teacher in classes for the developmentally disabled and persons with autism.

How do you feel about Heart Mountain and that time in your life?

It was a grave injustice to all who were interned, imprisoned just because we were Japanese-Americans. I feel very strongly that we, as a society and as individuals, must keep this story alive, not because of self-pity, but because I do not want such injustice to be repeated on any other group of people. We, as a society, forget the past easily and repeat the same mistakes. I must always be vigilant and speak out when there is any outcry against groups of people, such as against persons of Middle East origins and Muslims after 9/11.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.



Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

member benefit aarp financial service auto insurance

AARP® Auto Insurance Program from The Hartford offers members no-cost quotes.

membership benefit financial college aarp

Advice on saving for education from AARP® College Savings Solutions from TIAA-CREF.

AARP Credit card from Chase

Members can earn 3% cash back on purchases with the AARP® Credit Card from Chase.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points