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Virtual Asian-American Art Museum Project

Alexei Taylor, Author

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Toku Shimomura Diary 1

Diary of Toku Shimomura, 1942 

Toku Machida was a nurse in Japan before agreeing to an arranged marriage to Yoshitomi Shimomura, who was in the United States. She became an active midwife in the Seattle area, delivering more than 1,000 babies. In 1939, she came out of retirement to deliver her first grandchild, Roger. Roger became a celebrated artist who created a remarkable series of paintings based on entries from diaries she kept while detained at the Puyallup fairgrounds beginning April 28 and interned in Camp Minidoka, Idaho, beginning August 17, 1942. Other portions of diaries Toku maintained through the 56 years she lived in the United States have been used in various works, including a chapter in Donald Keeneā€™s Modern Japanese Diaries. An unusually diligent and articulate diarist, Toku captured the monotony of most days in camp, interspersed with occasions of despair and joy. She used the traditional Japanese device of noting the weather to introduce, in a fully empathetic fashion, the brutal realities of the environment and living conditions.
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