He kept a painted diary during Japanese internment | KUOW News and Information

He kept a painted diary during Japanese internment

Sep 26, 2017

A newly exhibited, hand-painted diary from an internment camp is shedding light on wartime experiences here in the Pacific Northwest.

Takuichi Fujii was a Japanese-born painter who was sent with his family to an internment camp in Puyallup after Pearl Harbor. He was later transferred to the Minidoka War Relocation Center in Idaho.

During the three and a half years Fujii was imprisoned, he kept a painted diary of his experience. It's now on display at the Washington State History Museum.

Barbara Johns is a Seattle-based art historian who curated the exhibition.

“It’s a small volume, just about 8 by 5 inches. And in it are nearly 400 pages of text on the left hand side and illustrations on the right. It’s done in ink and they begin with the family’s forced removal from Seattle and ends with Fujii and his wife’s leaving of Minidoka,” Johns says.

The 400 page diary is full of everyday images of the prison: Fujii's family, other inmates, the guards. Along with the diary, Fujii also painted 130 watercolors.

Johns says it's one of the most thoroughly documented accounts from a prisoner's perspective.

“The fact that he kept this diary throughout those three and a half years, and then produced all these watercolors is a tremendous achievement and a gift to us now,” she says.

The exhibition, "Witness to Wartime," is at the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma through January 1.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Japanese internment.