A member of the crew adjusts Joe Takehara’s wardrobe
On Thursday, April 28, Chicago Aikido Club senior instructor Joe Takehara stepped back through time into his own past. Although the actual place was the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, Illinois, it had been dressed up with props and other items to recreate the moment when Japanese Americans were forced to leave their homes and board trains, eventually bound for “internment camps” set up in rural areas around the U.S. following the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor that kicked off the Pacific War and full-scale American involvement in World War II. As a result of public wartime hysteria and racial intolerance, more than 110,000 Japanese Americans, nearly all who lived on the West Coast and including many American citizens, lost the homes and businesses they had spent lives building up, and would largely remain in the camps until 1944.
This was the set for The Orange Story, a short film in which Takehara plays a West Coast grocery store owner named Koji Oshima saying goodbye to his store before heading to the camps. The film is the first of four planned productions, and is being made in conjunction with an educational website for inclusion in curriculums at all levels of education.
The film is being produced by Chicago filmmaker Eugene Sun Park and his company Full Spectrum Features, in collaboration with fellow filmmaker Jason Matsumoto (a member of the Japanese drumming group Ho Etsu Taiko and is providing the soundtrack).
A shot is lined up on set
In real life, Takehara grew up in San Diego, California, and was relocated with his family to Poston War Relocation Center in southwestern Arizona. When the internment ended in 1945, his family migrated east, following a wave of some 20,000 Japanese American resettlers from various camps to Chicago (he was fourteen at the time).
The Orange Story is also being shot in California, and is slated to be released this year. It has been partially made possible by a nearly $160,000 grant from the National Park Service, which allocates funding for projects commemorating and preserving Japanese American confinement sites.
If you are interested in more information about The Orange Story project, please contact Jason at firstname.lastname@example.org or 773.504.4107.
An official fundraising campaign has been launched for The Orange Story. If you are interested in contributing, please visit the campaign website at http://tinyurl.com/zqujy3s.
Group photo from the railroad shoot