Ikeya Family artifact collection
Scope and Contents
Collection contains a hand-knitted sweater created by Sae Ikeya while interned at Minidoka Relocation Center. She made the sweater for her daughter, Junko Ikeya Mizuta.
- circa 1942
Biographical / Historical
Kaiji Ikeya was born in Shizuoka, Japan on October 15, 1890. Kaiji, a tea trader, was sent to the United States to operate a teahouse. He arrived in Long Beach, California in 1915 and then traveled up the coast to settle in Portland, Oregon. After several years, he returned to Japan to find a wife. Kaiji and Sae married in 1920 and returned to the United States.
Sae Ikeya (née Kawanaka) was born in Nagano, Japan in 1900. After she and Kaiji settled in Portland, they had two daughters – Haruye (1921-1998) and Junko (b.1925). When her daughters were four and eight years of age, Sae took them to Japan for an extended, two-year visit. The children had the opportunity to live with their maternal family while Kaiji stayed behind to earn income for the family.
By the time Sae and her daughters returned to Portland, Kaiji had found work managing the Barber Apartments and Sae was able to eventually open a laundry service in one of the building’s storefronts. Life for the Ikeya family continued peacefully until December 7, 1941 when Pearl Harbor was attacked. Immediately after this tragic event, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) fanned out along the west coast and arrested community leaders of Japanese descent. By six o’clock that very evening, Kaiji Ikeya was taken into FBI custody.
For about a month, Sae and her daughters were unable to locate Kaiji in the United States legal system. Finally they were informed that Kaiji was being held at the Multnomah County Jail in Oregon. From there, he was sent to a Department of Justice facility located in Missoula, Montana. Kaiji suffered from a chronic health issue and his family was deeply concerned for his well-being.
On February 19, 1942, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt authorized United States Executive Order 9066. This order led to the forced evacuations of individuals of Japanese descent from designated “military zones” located mostly along the West Coast. Sae, Haruye and Junko were sent to the Portland Assembly Center (also known as the Pacific Livestock Exposition Pavilion) where they lived from May through August 1942. Being that they were a family of three, they were forced to share their cramped living quarters with another family.
After several months, Sae and her daughters were evacuated to the Minidoka Relocation Center located in Idaho. The family, who arrived at the center during a sandstorm, was assigned to a small, three-person unit. Concurrently, Kaiji was shuffled from one Department of Justice facility to the next. After Fort Missoula, he was incarcerated in Fort Lincoln, located five miles south of Bismarck, North Dakota and then in Camp Livingston, Louisiana. There is evidence that Kaiji was detained in Sante Fe, New Mexico and was probably held in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, as well. Sae and her children regularly corresponded with Kaiji, but it was a mostly futile effort. All of their letters were heavily censored and, therefore, barely legible.
While in Minidoka, Junko enrolled in Hunt High School so that she could complete her secondary education. In 1943, Junko was released from camp and headed to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to work as a domestic laborer. In January of 1944, Kaiji returned from the Department of Justice camp and six months later passed away due to a heart ailment. Junko returned to Minidoka for the funeral and to spend time with her mother and sister.
In August of 1944, Junko again struck out on her own and enrolled in college. With the help of financial aid, she attended Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa. In the meantime, Sae and Haruye headed to Detroit, Michigan where they both worked as domestic laborers until Haruye found work in an office setting. After one year at Simpson, Junko joined her family in Detroit and enrolled in the University of Michigan from which she received a Bachelor of Science degree.
Shortly after receiving her diploma, Junko moved to Chicago, Illinois where Sae had settled. Haruye had decided to remain in Detroit. Sae found a job at Kuppenheimer, a men’s clothing retailer, and Junko obtained a research technician job at Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago, Illinois.
Sae passed away in August of 2004 at 104 years of age. Junko married Takanori "Tak" Mizuta and settled in the south suburbs of Chicago.
Source: Ikeya Family Papers
Language of Materials
Stacks 02 Column 06 Self A
- Ikeya Family artifact collection
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- Script of description
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