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Hiroji Hosaka Family Letters

 Collection
Identifier: SPC-2020-034

Content Description

The collection consists of correspondence between Hiroji Hosaka and his family and friends while he was imprisoned in the Santa Fe Internment Camp, the Santa Anita Assembly Center, and the Heart Mountain incarceration camp during World War II. Also included are a copy of Hiroji Hosaka's FBI case file, prewar photographs of the Daiichi Rafu Gakuen, that is, a Japanese language school in Los Angeles, and Japanese archery, a photograph of the Heart Mountain camp, and his business cards prior to the war. Incoming and outgoing letters to and from the Santa Fe Internment Camp were censored and some information was redacted. His letters describe restrictions on outgoing mail from the internement camp. The family letters detail the pressing situations that they faced: after Hiroji, a husband of the family, was taken away, his wife and young child had to deal with his hotel business, their properties, and the mass removal and incarceration of people of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast. The community was being informed in word-of-mouth, and uncertainty and fear were depicted. Most of the items in this collection have been digitized and are available online.

Dates

  • 1937 October-1962 October 29
  • Majority of material found within 1942-1945

Language of Materials

The collection is predominantly in Japanese.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Director of the Gerth Archives and Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Gerth Archives and Special Collections as the owner of the physical materials and not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

Hosaka Family History

Hiroji Hosaka (1890 January 7-1987 August 3) was an Issei immigrant who arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii in 1907 as a plantation laborer. He was born in Fukuoka, Japan on January 7, 1890, and boarded Amerika Maru when he was 17. He resided in Hawaii until 1922, working as a plantation laborer, taxi driver, houseboy, and sales clerk. His wife, Takino Hosaka (1892 April 18-1943 August 6) was an American citizen who was born in Hawaii on April 18, 1892 and spent her childhood in Japan. Hiroji and Takino married in Hawaii in October 1914 and their first son was born on October 15, 1918. They moved to California in 1922 and their second son, Teruo, was born in Los Angeles in 1928. They started a hotel business, operating “Aloha Hotel” at 301 Clay St., Los Angeles, California in 1929. Their first son was sent to Japan when he was young possibly even before the family moved to Los Angeles and he lived in Fukuoka where Hiroji originally came from while their second son, Teruo, remained with the parents in the United States. Hiroji Hosaka was a devoted Christian and earned a degree in accounting from USC. He was a prominent member in the Japanese American community in Los Angeles since he was a master of kyudo (Japanese archery), which is one of the Japanese martial arts, and he also served as an auditor for Nihonjinkai and Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Los Angeles, as a secretary for Fukuoka Kenjinkai, and as an official for Daiichi Rafu Gakuen, that is, a Japanese language school in Los Angeles respectively. Japanese organizations were associated with the Consulate-General of Japan and supported the Japanese government and military. Because of his association with Japanese organizations and language school as well as his expertise in Japanese martial arts, he became one of the FBI targets as an influential and dangerous enemy alien.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Mr. Hosaka was apprehended by FBI on February 21, 1942 and imprisoned in the County jail of Los Angeles. He was transferred to the Tuna Canyon Detention Center on February 28, 1942, and further transferred to the Santa Fe Internment Camp on June 7, 1942. During his confinement, he was interrogated several times and determined to be a dangerous enemy alien although the interrogators received petition letters from American citizens who tried to prove his innocence. Eventually, he was “paroled” from the custody of the FBI and Justice Department but determined to be incarcerated in the Santa Anita Assembly Center and joined his family on June 6, 1942, who had been imprisoned since the mass removal from the West Coast. He and his family were transferred to the Heart Mountain camp on September 4, 1942.

Mr. Hosaka's hotel business was closed when his remaining family was forced to leave from the military zones by Executive Order 9066. His wife and young child had to deal with the hotel, their properties, and all processes for the mass removal without him. One of their friends agreed to purchase the hotel and verbally promised to sell it back to the family later at the same price that he paid, but the negotiation failed. The family handed it to other friends, but apparently their hotel business was never resumed after the war.

While the Hosakas were incarcerated in the Heart Mountain camp, Tatsuno passed away in the camp hospital on August 6, 1943. Hiroji served as a Block 25 councilman, was assigned to a job at a men’s dorm in the U.S. Navy language school, University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado on June 7, 1945, and another job in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Later he left the Heart Mountain camp for the Seabrook Farms in Bridgeton, New Jersey in September 1945, and continued to stay there. He apparently returned to California in the late 1940s and passed away on August 3, 1987. His son, Teruo, left the Heart Mountain camp for Pasadena when the war ended. He was a Nisei U.S. Army veteran and passed away at age 91 on June 23, 2019.

Extent

1 box (1 document box)

.20 Linear Feet (1 document box)

Overview

The Hiroji Hosaka Family Letters is comprised of 30 letters and postcards, a copy of Hiroji Hosaka's FBI case file, photographs, and business cards. The letters are correspondence between him and his family members and friends mainly while he was imprisoned in the Santa Fe Internment Camp and the Heart Mountain incarceration camp during World War II. The family letters describe the pressing situations that the family faced such as closing his hotel business and selling their properties in a short time due to the mass removal and incarceration of people of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast. Most of the items in this collection have been digitized and are available online.

Arrangement

The letters are arranged chronologically.

Availability of Digital Reproductions

Most of the items in this collection have been digitized and digital reproduction access files are available at the CSU Japanese American Digitization Project site: Hiroji Hosaka Family Letters Digital Collection

CSU Japanese American Digitization Project

This collection is part of the California State University Japanese American Digitization Project. Other collections about the history of Japanese Americans are found in the digital repository: CSU Japanese Digitization Project

Translation

English translation, synopses, and brief descriptions for Japanese language materials are available at CSU Japanese American Digitization Project site.

Processing Information

The collection was processed and English translation, synopses, and brief descriptions for Japanese language materials were provided by Yoko Okunishi in 2020.

Digital Reproductions

The Gerth Archives and Special Collections created digital reproductions from original items for long-term preservation and electronic access, adhering to best practice and standards to ensure the authenticity, integrity, and security of material. For more information on digitization process, please see CSU Japanese American Digitization Project technical reference guide.

Most of the items in this collection have been digitized. The set of digital reproduction preservation files is stored on the Gerth Archives and Special Collections’ department drive for both preservation purposes and duplication requests.

The set of access files was created for the digital management system and is stored on the Gerth Archives and Special Collections' department external drive for staff use.

Title
Inventory of the Letters of the Hiroji Hosaka Family
Status
Completed
Author
Yoko Okunishi
Date
2020-12
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the California State University Dominguez Hills, Gerth Archives and Special Collections Repository

Contact:
University Library South -5039 (Fifth Floor)
1000 E. Victoria St.
Carson CA 90747
310-243-3895