Seattle Channel aired a segment in October 2018 about our project when we visited Seattle to give a talk and to photograph WWII veterans. We were also interviewed on NBC Bay Area and you watch the video here. Buzzfeed wrote about us as well.
WHAT IS THIS BOOK ABOUT?
During World War II, over 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry were rounded up and sent to internment camps scattered across the country. When their country came calling to ask for volunteers to join the US Army, many Japanese Americans raised their hands.
The 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team are the most decorated unit for their size and length of service in US military history. Among their awards were 21 Medals of Honor, 9,486 Purple Hearts and 5,200 Bronze Stars (including Oak Leaf Clusters).
The Nisei veterans of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service have done more than their part in history for Japanese-Americans and really all, Asian Americans. They are too humble and too reserved to "make a fuss" and have their voices heard. This is where the next generation must come in and carry the torch, so that these stories are not forgotten. This personal project of mine is something I can give back to veterans of the 100th/442nd and MIS. I am thankful – being both a "Buddhahead" and a “Katonk” – that I am given this opportunity to share these photos so that other Americans, especially Japanese-Americans, can see them.
I hope these portraits show a glimpse of what these men were like on a personal level, and that their pictures and stories make you think about what they sacrificed and accomplished, so you’ll be proud that they were American heroes.
SO WHAT IS THIS KICKSTARTER FOR?
We are seeking finishing funds to published the second volume sister book to "The Go For Broke Spirit". Thank you to everyone who pledged in 2017 to allow us the opportunity to travel to the East Coast and other parts of the country to continued photographing our Nisei veterans. Our project is almost completed. We are done photographing and working on putting the book together with an eye for a Fall 2019 release but we need your help to cross the finishing line! These funds will help with the publishing costs, determine our order, and provide a free book to the veterans or their families in the book.
Many people have asked why I waited so long? A lot of times these men were not open to being photographed, but as the years went on, they realized the importance of preserving their history, which might otherwise be lost. In recent years I've been getting more willing responses from many of these men.
The first 12" x 12" hardcover coffee table book consists of 81 veterans' portraits with their stories and some historical background, in 184 pages. The second hardcover coffee table book consists of approximately 77 veteran's portraits and their stories.
Please help me preserve the images and stories of these heroic men who fought for our country while their own families were incarcerated in camps. This is not just Japanese American history, it is American history.
HOW DID THIS PROJECT GET STARTED ?
In 1999 I had been working as a freelance photographer out of my Los Angeles Arts District studio. Christine Yamazaki and Diane Tanaka saw my large portraits of ladies in a retirement home. They liked how I was able to show the women's strength and dignity as well as personality despite living in the confinements of a nursing home. It struck a cord with them and Christine asked if I wanted to do a series of the veterans.
I had been working with the vets for a few years already, so I thought it was it was a great idea. They wanted to keep the unity of the "Go For Broke" Foundation in which they were all going to wear their white 442 club shirts. I decided on a black and white series in which the subject would stand out from what basically was white on white background.
What came next was a yearlong project of shooting veterans from Los Angeles, Hawaii, and Seattle. I used a Pentax 6x7 medium format camera and Tri-X 400 film. I was trying to keep the images to one roll per veteran, or 10 pictures each. Some I shot maybe a roll and a half if I wanted something extra or I felt I did not get it. I tried to bring out a little personality with each subject. Some were serious, some were playful, others were somber and stoic.
From 2007 to the present, I again travelled and shot in Los Angeles, Hawaii, Salt Lake City, Chicago, New York, Washington DC and Seattle, sometimes shooting the same vets again. I wanted to show to a future generation strong, vibrant, color portraits of what these men did for America. Armed with my new Canon 5D digital cameras, portable lights, and Photoshop, I could shoot almost anywhere. I shot for many years, sometimes only getting a few at a time, not really knowing what I was going to do with the finished portraits. I just knew that this needed to be done.
Working with the vets has always fascinated me for two reasons. For one, being Japanese-American myself, I felt proud of the honor these men brought for all Japanese-Americans living in this country. And second, I was struck by their humility. While small in physical stature, the accomplishments of these men were powerful and moved an entire generation.
This kept me going as it was difficult to convince them to take a portrait or to convince veterans organizations to even allow me to try and take any portraits. They had to be convinced it was for a future generation to see and that I was an appropriate person for this. This camaraderie and strength are probably what gave them the courage to fight together for America against racism, and fight to prove that they belong. My troubles seem minor indeed when I think of these things, and I hope to continue to take these portraits as long as I am able.
Book Trailer for the first volume of The Go For Broke Spirit. The second book will follow the same format as the first book with over 70 new images of veterans and their stories.
WHAT ARE THE REWARDS ?
We have a wide range of options from postcard set to copies of the first and second book as well as signed copies. Shane Sato personally carried a few copies around the country to get veterans to signed the book. Some copies of the book have up to thirty signatures from all over the United States, some sad to say some have passed on since.
At the higher levels, we are giving an option of either lunch with photographer Shane Sato and a veteran or an artist talk presented by Shane Sato about his book project to you as an individual or in a group setting. These would be held in Los Angeles, Hawaii and Seattle.
WHAT IF I PLEDGED TO THE FIRST KICKSTARTER ?
For those of you who already donated for the name in the second book from our previous Kickstarter back in 2017, not to worry. If you donate again under the same name, we are going to highlight that name so it stands out as a recognition you donated twice. Thank you very much. If you donate at a lower level than from the first Kickstarter, the higher level will be used in the acknowledgement.
HOW DOES KICKSTARTER WORK ?
Funding on Kickstarter . . . unless we reach our $15,000 goal, and we only have 30 days to reach that goal. If we don’t make it, the project will not go forward and no credit cards will be charged. So please kickstart my project by making a pledge. Thank you!
WANNA GET IN TOUCH WITH ME ?
If you have questions, comments or anything else, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Donation at $550 level or higher will received co-author Robert Horsting's award winning "Citizen Tanouye" DVD. In an effort to understand the man Ted Tanouye that once walked the halls of their Torrance, California high school over sixty years before, these eight students piece together Ted's story and that of his family incarcerated at Jerome, AR, from school yearbooks, newspaper articles, Internet sites and insightful conversations with World War II veterans. Stories from Ted's brother Isao "Easy" Tanouye, former classmates and fellow soldiers of Company "K" complete this puzzle and reveal how this all-American boy, of the 442nd RCT, overcame looking like the enemy and was awarded this country's highest military honor.
Risks and challenges
For the second book, I believe most of the difficulties have been taken care of during the course of making the first book.
These heroic men are passing on day by day and the biggest challenge is the march of time. I've exhausted a large amount of time, energy and funds to complete this first book, so unfortunately if the Kickstarter isn't successful, more than likely I will not be able to print the second book.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)