Gaijin Girl Hits the Road

by Linda Okazaki

Day 1

Road Trip! It probably would make more sense to write about the chronological path the Okazaki family experienced. In terms of my road trip, it makes more sense to travel from point A to point B and piece together the puzzle at a later time.

First stop, Tulare. It took me about four hours to reach the hot and dusty Tulare County Fairgrounds.

Seventy years earlier, in the spring of 1942, Hamako Okazaki, her three children and her sister in law, Hatsue Osuga, boarded a Greyhound bus near their Santa Maria California home with the other community members of Japanese ancestry.  Hamako’s husband, Ichimaru, and his brother in law, Jimmy Osuga, had already been arrested in El Centro, their warrant issued by the FBI  on December 7, two and a half months before executive order 9066 was issued. Hamako and Hatsue hastily sold most of their possession, though some items were held in storage. The women and children packed what they could carry; hours later they arrived in Tulare. The US government had hastily built quarters for the families where they resided for several months before being transferred to actual internment camps.

None of the buildings from the war years exists today. A massive fire in 1952 detroyed the structures except for the grandstand.