Hatsuki Wakasa Shot by M.P.

Hatsuki Wakasa Shot by M.P.

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Art was a valuable resource that incarcerated Japanese Americans used to not only express themselves within the confines of camp, but also to document the environment and wrongdoings they experienced. No one did this better than the master artist Chiura Obata. He painted hauntingly beautiful landscapes as well as chronicled oppression, such as this work, "Hatsuki Wakasa Shot by M.P." Obata was standing witness when a man attempting to pet a dog by the perimeter fence was shot down by guards. The guards were yelling at him but because of either the language barrier or the distance, Wakasa did not hear and was killed on the spot.
Obata knew that painting was a critical tool for expression and documentation. When he was imprisoned due to EO9066, he used his experience as a professor at UC Berkeley to open an art school at the Tanforan Detention Center where he was sent. Tanforan Art School taught hundreds of people of all ages how to draw and paint. Obata was later moved to the Topaz incarceration camp in Utah, and he carried over his art school and rebranded it into the Topaz Art School. Here Obata met Masako (Koho) Yamamoto, his star pupil at the camp. She studied under him for the duration of Obata's stay, and after the war Koho became a professionally famed artist herself.
Currently not on view
Object Name
place made
United States: Utah, Topaz War Relocation Center
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
metal (overall material)
glass (overall material)
plastic (overall material)
painted (overall production method/technique)
in frame: 17 in x 21 in x 1 in; 43.18 cm x 53.34 cm x 2.54 cm
overall: 11 in x 15 in x in; 27.94 cm x 38.1 cm x.00254 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Chiura Obata family
World War II
See more items in
Political and Military History: Armed Forces History, Japanese American
Executive Order 9066
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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